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New Zealand Music Icons

In this area of we will put together New Zealands music icons of NZ. Our definition of an icon is a group or individual that is famous in New Zealand and should be known in the rest of the world. Some musical New Zealand icons you would know others you may not (but should), but if you mention any of these groups or people to a New Zealander they will know what you are talking about, from Crowded House to Dave Dobbyn.

Crowded House
Split Enz
Kiri Te Kanawa
Neil Finn
Dave Dobbyn

Crowded House

After the break up of Split Enz in 1984, one of its major songwriters, Neil Finn (b. 27 May 1958, Te Awamutu, New Zealand; guitar), along with Split Enz drummer Paul Hester plus Craig Hooper (guitar) and Nick Seymour (bass) formed Crowded House in 1986, after originally calling themselves the Mullanes.
Signed to Capitol Records, the group resided in Los Angeles (where they were given their new name after the group's cramped living conditions), and worked with producer Mitchell Froom. With the group by now reduced to a trio with the departure of Hooper, Crowded House's debut album was released to little fanfare, but two singles lifted from it became enormously successful giving the group US chart hits with 'Don't Dream It's Over' (number 2) and 'Something So Strong' (number 7) in 1987. The album had one of the longest ascents up the charts ever noted, eventually peaking at number 12.
A subdued reaction to the second album failed to consolidate the group's reputation in the singles chart despite reaching the US Top 40. Paul Young gave the group some welcome publicity in the UK by singing 'Don't Dream It's Over' at the Nelson Mandela concert at Wembley Stadium in June 1988. Neil's reconciliation with brother Tim Finn led to Crowded House strengthening the line-up when he joined in February 1991. The Finn brothers subsequently cracked the UK market with the Top 20 hit 'Fall At Your Feet' (1991) and the Top 10 with 'Weather With You' (1992). The much acclaimed album Woodface also reached the Top 10 in the UK Crowded House's standing in their adopted home of Melbourne, Australia is such that the Melbourne Museum For Performing Arts displays a Crowded House exhibition, containing assorted memorabilia of the group.
In November 1991, while the band were enjoying world-wide success, Tim Finn decided to leave the line-up and continue with his solo career. Both brothers were awarded the OBE in June 1993 for their contribution to music of New Zealand. In June 1996 they announced their farewell, bowing out with an excellent compilation package featuring three new songs. Their emotional final performance was in Sydney on 24 November 1996. Neil Finn moved on to a solo career, releasing his debut album in June 1998.

Split Enz

Split Enz was a successful New Zealand band during the late 1970s and early 1980s featuring brothers Tim and Neil Finn. Their musical style was eclectic and original, incorporating influences from art rock, vaudeville, swing, punk, rock and pop.
The band started life in 1971 at the Auckland University, where Tim met up with (old friend) Mike Chunn, Robert Gillies, Philip Judd and Noel Crombie. From 1972 the band became a full-time occupation for the friends, and they called the band Split Ends. The spelling was later changed to Split Enz when they went on their first trip to Australia, to signify their New Zealand roots.
They were widely known for their unique visual presentation. Their costumes and hair were like nothing else, wild and colourful and inventive. The costumes were designed by Noel Crombie, who also designed most of the group's other visual material, such as stage sets, posters, stickers and album covers, as well as directing many of the band's music videos.
The group's career falls into two distinct phases. The first was firmly rooted in the progressive rock scene of the early 1970s. The Enz started out as an adventurous, flamboyant art-rock band -- although their music was generally far more accessible than some of their more grandiose European 'prog-rock' counterparts. This first incarnation lasted about five years, through their move to Australia and the early part of their stay in England, and closed with the departure of co-founder Philip Judd in 1977. During the transitional period of 1978-79, a new line-up consolidated behind Tim Finn, and though they struggled to survive, they gradually reined in the more extreme aspects of their music and presentation without sacrificing their individuality. In 1980, Split Enz (Mark II) scored major successes with a superb trio of early 80's albums -- True Colours, Waiata (released as Corroboree in Australia) and Time & Tide -- which made them one of the most successful and popular Australasian groups, a position they held until their final split in 1984.
It is also notable that Split Enz only recorded original material; every song on every Enz album and single was written by members of the group.


Artist Profile & Brief Biography

Band members:
Tim Finn, Phil Judd, Jonathan Michael Chunn, Noel Crombie, Paul Emlyn Crowther, Neil Finn, Robert Gillies, Mal Green, Nigel Griggs, Paul Hester, Eddie Rayner, Wally Wilkinson, Miles Golding, Geoff Chunn, Michael Howard
Musical style:
New Wave, Art Rock, Pop
Performed songs by:
Tim Finn, Neil Finn, Phil Judd, Eddie Rayner, Nigel Griggs, Robert Gillies, Noel Crombie, Mal Green, Jonathan Michael Chunn
Formal connections:
Neil Finn, Tim Finn, Crowded House, Finn Brothers, Schnell Fenster, ALT, Enzso, Phil Judd, Swingers, The Makers
Similar artists:
XTC, Squeeze, Mental as Anything
Selected discography:
1975 - Mental Notes
1976 - Second Thoughts
1977 - Dizrhythmia
1978 - Frenzy
1979 - True Colours
1981 - Waiata (Corroboree)
1982 - Time and Tide
1983 - Conflicting Emotions
1984 - See Ya Round

Kiri Te Kanawa

  • Born 6 March 1944 in Gisborne.
  • Studied under Sister Mary Leo 1959-65 at St Mary's College in Auckland.
  • Was second to Malvina Major in the Mobil Song Quest in 1963, won it in 1965.
  • Won the Melbourne Sun Aria in 1965, and was awarded an arts council bursary to study at the London Opera Centre. Has been based overseas since.
  • Has sung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Covent Garden, and the Royal Opera House in London, and La Scala in Milan, Italy.
  • In 1981 sang at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in St Paul's Cathedral.
  • Became Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in 1982, and has returned to New Zealand to sing several times, including the New Year's millennium concert at Gisborne in January 2000.
  • In 1994 celebrated her 50th birthday, culminating in a spectacular Birthday Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
  • November 1999 released a new album Maori Songs.
  • Sang in her last opera Vanessa in 2002, but plans to continue with recital and concert work and establishing the Dame Kiri Foundation, to help young music students.

Neil Finn

  • Born 27 May 1958 in Te Awamutu. Older brother Tim.
  • As a teenager joined the All'nSome Folk Club, which gave him the chance to play with other musicians, and to try out his own music.
  • 1975 was the support act for Split Enz Australia/New Zealand tour, and formed band After Hours in 1976.
  • Was called into Split Enz by his brother Tim. Wrote many of the band's hits, including I got you.
  • After Split Enz broke up formed The Mullanes, and moved to Los Angeles in 1985. They were living in cramped accommodation, and decided to change the band's name to Crowded House.
  • Released self-titled debut album in 1987. Song Don't dream it's over reached No. 2 on the US Billboard charts.
  • 1989 worked with Crowded House and brother Tim. Released Woodface album in 1991 - went triple platinum in the United Kingdom.
  • 1993 awarded an OBE for services to New Zealand music.
  • 1994 Crowded House won the Q magazine award for Best International Act.
  • 1995 worked with Tim as Finn Brothers. Produced album Finn.
  • 1996 worked with Eddie Raynor and Dave Dobbyn on ENZSO project
  • November 24 1996 Crowded House gave farewell concert in Sydney.
  • 1997 Neil worked on first solo release Try whistling this, released in 1998. His 7 year-old son, Elroy, designed the album cover and won an award for it at the 1999 New Zealand music awards
  • 2001 released One All and in 2002 released 7 Worlds Collide our live album concurrently with a DVD of the concert.
  • Neil's son Liam now has his own band Betchadupa.

Dave Dobbyn

  • Born in 1957 in Auckland
  • Formed Th' Dudes in the late 70s with friends from school, with Dobbyn as lead guitarist.
  • Wrote the hit song "Be mine tonight" for their debut album - won single of the year at the 1979 music awards.
  • Th' Dudes broke up in 1980.
  • Mid 1981 formed DD Smash. Hit singles: Devil you know (1982), Outlook for Thursday (1983), Whaling (1984), Magic (what she do) (1984).
  • 7 December 1984 DD Smash gave a free concert in Auckland that ended in a riot, with windows smashed. Dobbyn was charged with inciting a riot but the charges were later dismissed. Went to Australia.
  • Wrote the music for the film Footrot Flats (1985) (hit single Slice of Heaven).
  • 1988 released new album Loyal, and in 1989 wrote the theme song Space junk for a television puppet series.
  • 1993 made the album Lament for the numb in Los Angeles, then returned to New Zealand in 1994, where he recorded Twist, produced by Neil Finn.
  • Worked with Eddie Rayner of Split Enz on his ENZSO project, rewriting classic Split Enz songs for the NZ Symphony Orchestra.
  • In 1998 released The Islander, and to mark 20 years of recording a compilation album Overnight success, in 1999. Released Hopetown, in 2000.
  • In November 2000 released with Tim Finn and Bic Runga their Together in Concert: Live album following their August tour of New Zealand.
  • “Loyal” chosen as the Team New Zealand theme song for the 2003 defence of the America's Cup.
  • Made Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2003 New Year's Honours list.

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