Uncle Dennis ‘Mop’ Conlon – frontman of the revered Indigenous rock outfit Mop & The Dropouts (formerly known as Dennis Conlon & The Magpies) – has died.
A Cherbourg musician and activist often dubbed the “King of Murri Country”, Conlon’s passing was confirmed today (September 19) by his uncle and bandmate, Hedley Johnson, who shared his “deepest condolences to [Conlon’s widow] Sandra Pickering, all of Dennis’ children and his brothers and sisters, O’Chin and Conlon families”.
The drummer posted of Conlon’s legacy: “Mop is an icon and is loved and respected in both Black and white communities in the Australian music industry. Through his music he has become a leader and fighter for indigenous rights for us all, I am very proud of his many achievements and proud the be a Dropout forever, I loved him dearly and will miss him… His music will live on forever.”
As reported by The Music, Conlon’s passing came amid the singer-songwriter’s battle with lung cancer, for which he’d been receiving chemotherapy treatments in recent months.
A touching tribute to Conlon was also aired today (September 19) on Murri Country radio station Triple A. So went their eulogy: “Mop gave a voice to the urban mob when the focus was on our First Nations mob coming out from the deserts, and the stories of land rights, it’s all been put through the hands of our Prime Minister. Yeah, there was an often forgotten mob who were sitting in parks and separated from family, and just that whole broken time.
Particular praise was given to Mop & The Dropouts’ iconic 1982 song ‘Brisbane Blacks’, which recounts the monumental protests that First Nations peoples embarked on – marching for Aboriginal rights – at the time of the 12th Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. Triple A’s tribute continued: “That song, we all know, it galvanised and it gave a face and a voice [to] that flashpoint.
“Mop tells a story of sitting there and watching it on the TV, all unfolding in front of him. His music has become an anthem and a call to arms for so many of our mob. This is something that ripples, and the repercussions of the stories being told will continue. You can’t have a legacy unless you can leave it behind, and Uncle Mop has a huge legacy, and his face and his voice will live in our hearts, and be carried forward by generations into the future.”
In a 2021 interview with Double J, Conlon said of ‘Brisbane Blacks’: “I was thinking, ‘They’re only going to show this video on TV once [so] I’ll write a song.’ The song belongs to everybody, doesn’t matter where we are. It’s all for us. All of us. They even picked it up in New Zealand, and I got a call from Los Angeles. I’m thinking, ‘Geez, must have a good message in it then.’”
Conlon’s family have allowed for his image and voice to be used in the wake of his passing, however they have requested privacy at this time.