Doc Neeson, Frontman For The Angels, Dies At 67

Doc Neeson, the charismatic frontman for the seminal Australian rock band the Angels, died from brain cancer on Wednesday. He was 67.

Bernard “Doc” Neeson died in his sleep at his family’s Sydney home, friend and publicist Catherine Swinton said.

Photo: Catalyst PR/AP
An undated photo shows the charismatic frontman for the Angels during a recording session.

“He has battled with a brain tumor for the last 17 months and sadly lost his fight this morning,” Neeson’s family said in a statement released by Swinton.

Neeson was born into a Roman Catholic family in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Jan. 4, 1947. He migrated with his family to Adelaide, South Australia, at the age of 13.

He was studying to become a teacher when he was drafted into the Australian army in the late 1960s. But he avoided the Vietnam War when the army became aware of his education training. He was sent to Papua New Guinea to teach the Pacific Island Regiment.

Neeson later took advantage of a returned soldiers’ scheme to study filmmaking in Adelaide. He met musicians in Adelaide and formed the Moonshine Jug and String Band, which morphed into the Keystone Angels and then the Angels.

The Angels became Australia’s highest-paid band by the late 1970s and continued with a string of hits into the 1990s, with Neeson as singer/songwriter.

The Angels’ first single, “Am I Ever Going to See Your Face Again,” released in 1976, became a youth anthem. Audiences around Australia reply with same expletive-laden response to the song’s chorus decades later.

Neeson said he heard what he described as “the response” or “the chant” from audiences in London and the Middle East, as well as around Australia.

“In a way, I’m really delighted to hear that because it’s Australian audiences making the song their own,” Neeson said in an Australian Broadcasting Corp. interview aired last month.

“When the band had first started, we were trying to write songs for Australian audiences and they’ve made it their own in a way I never would have thought possible,” he said.

Neeson is survived by his partner Annie Souter and four children.