By this point, the organisation had musicians clambering to collaborate with it, thanks to its bold approach to confronting the injustices like nuclear testing in the Pacific. Contributor artist Suggs from Madness reflected this admiration, saying: “Greenpeace are ecologists but they do things. They don’t have debates, they don’t have marches, they just do things.”
1985 was also the year Greenpeace suffered the tragic loss of photographer Fernando Pereira, killed in the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland by French intelligence services.
The US release of the album featured a photo of the ship taken by Pereira.
Music on ships, 1990–2020
Greenpeace’s ships have been a staple part of its non-violent actions since the beginning. But the ships aren’t always out confronting whalers or dropping boulders to stop supertrawlers.
Here are a couple of times when they served as stages for the biggest names in music:
Eurythmics released their Peace album with a concert on the Rainbow Warrior in London in 1999:
Damon Albarn launched the shiny new Rainbow Warrior III in 2011:
One of the most overtly musical times for Greenpeace in recent years was the immense global campaign to stop oil drilling in the Arctic.
First, huge names in music rallied behind Greenpeace supporters in 2014 to free the Arctic 30 from Russian prison, including Paul McCartney and Madonna.
Then in 2015 Charlotte Church sang a Requiem for Arctic Ice in a protest against Shell’s proposals to drill for oil in the Arctic:
Radiohead’s Thom Yorke was the DJ on the Arctic Hope float during the People’s March for Climate Justice in London ahead of the COP21 climate conference (where the 2015 Paris climate agreement was agreed):
In 2018, Yorke also donated this track to the campaign to create the world’s largest protected area in the Antarctic:
And finally, in 2016, composer and Pianist Ludovico Einaudi performed on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean – a powerful showpiece on top of the world for the campaign that finally got Shell to withdraw its plans to drill in the Arctic:
The Greenpeace Field is a staple at Glastonbury, sitting at the heart of the world’s most famous music festival. For five nights and four days, Greenpeace volunteers offer everything from fun activities for children to free solar powered showers, vegan food and star-studded gigs.
Even in the year when live action festivals weren’t possible, Greenpeace broke new ground with a digital offering called Action All Areas in June 2020. The online festival featured an incredible lineup of stars beaming into our homes from all over the world – including the now-Mercury Prize winning Arlo Parks, singing from a bedroom setup!
Bonus track: DJs for Climate Action, 2020–21
There’s no doubt that the global pandemic has been devastating for music acts around the world. But music is often a soothing response to a crisis; a way to bring people and cultures together in a shared experience. This has been true for the dual health and climate crises we face.
During 2020, DJs for Climate Action asked producers around the world to create original tracks built from a sample pack field recordings made by Greenpeace, including Arctic ice claps, Amazonian storm loops, Pacific wave crashes, and (of course) whale sounds.
The response was phenomenal, and a number of the submissions are soon to be pressed on limited edition eco-friendly green vinyl. You can catch a sneak peak of the tracks on Soundcloud below.
Inspired by Succession? Whether or not there's a cousin Greg in your life, here's how you can follow in Uncle Ewan's footsteps and remember Greenpeace in your Will - or just chip in a few pounds today.