With his distinctive bald head, wild dancing and strident voice, Garrett was one of the most recognizable Australian singers of the last generation.

Midnight Oil’s protest song about Aboriginal land rights, “Beds are Burning,” was a hit around the world and the band played it at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

They managed to further politicize the performance by wearing black clothes emblazoned with the word “Sorry” in a reference to the government’s refusal to apologize to Aborigines for past mistreatment.

“The last 25 years have been incredibly fulfilling for me, and I leave with the greatest respect for the whole of Midnight Oil,” Garrett said in a statement posted on the band’s Web site. “The band has brought a lot of pleasure and meaning to people’s lives, including my own. Who could ask for more?”

But Garrett, a committed and eloquent environmental activist, said it was “time for me to move on and immerse myself in those things which are of deep concern to me and which I have been unable to fully apply myself to up to now.”

The remaining members of the band said they were committed to continue making music together “in another guise at some point down the track.”

“We’ve had a unique relationship and special chemistry for many years, one too good to lose,” band members Rob Hirst, Jim Moginie, Martin Rotsey, Gary Morris and Bones Hillman said in the statement.

Alongside his singing career, Garrett has served as president of the Australian Conservation Foundation between 1989 and 1993. He also has served on the international board of environmental group Greenpeace.

In recent years, Garrett has focused his activities closer to home, with particular emphasis on campaigns against genetic engineering, coastal development and the nuclear industry.

In the early 1980s, Garrett was narrowly defeated in a bid to gain a seat in the upper house of federal parliament on a Nuclear Disarmament ticket and speculation was rife Tuesday he would take another tilt, possibly for the Greens.

Greens Senator Bob Brown did not rule out Garrett running for his party.

“Peter’s a great and wonderful, warmhearted Australian. I’ve had a long friendship with Peter and I really appreciate that,” Brown said. “But everyone’s been calling me about Peter except Peter.”

When asked about Garrett’s links with the Greens, Brown said: “Peter’s already in the fold as far as I’m concerned, you know these things aren’t determined by whether you’re a member of this or that.”

Midnight Oil had just wrapped up a tour of their native land. This trek was particularly relevant for the band as their latest, and incidentally 14th album, Capricornia, was named after the tropical northern reaches of Australia where they were touring.