In advance of next week’s Crowded House reunion shows in Sydney, and the band’s induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame, NZ On Screen’s Nicky Harrop traces the many musical branches of the Finn family tree.

Goodness knows what was going on in the 1950s in Te Awamutu, but the small Waikato town (and resident Mary Finn) was responsible for birthing a major force in New Zealand music. With a legacy that now spans close to 50 years, the following represents but a small sample from our first family of songwriting.

Starting life in the early 70s, Split Enz (originally Split Ends) was formed by Tim Finn, Mike Chunn, Robert Gillies, Phil Judd and Noel Crombie. Early songwriting duties largely fell to Finn and Judd, and, following Judd's 1977 departure from the group, Tim was responsible for writing a number of the band's hits. Among them, the still-fantastic I See Red - a slice of infectious new wave that moved the Enz away from their art rock roots and closer to pop territory.

Watch the video for I See Red here:


Judd's Split Enz replacement was found in Tim's then 18 year-old brother, Neil. Neil quickly emerged as a strong songwriting force in the band, and penned the track that would give them their first big taste of international success. I Got You not only went #1 on both sides of the Tasman, but earned the Enz the honour of being the first New Zealand act to break into the US and UK markets.

Watch the video for I Got You here:


Tim Finn would leave Split Enz in 1984, but not before releasing his debut solo album. Escapade was led by single Fraction Too Much Friction, its video featuring a Wayfarer-clad Tim, with ghetto blaster atop shoulder, exuding 80s cool.

Advertisement

Watch the video for Fraction Too Much Friction here:


Neil Finn was the next to depart the band, ultimately signalling the end of the Enz. His next musical outing would bring him global acclaim, and, for a time, reunite him with his brother. Crowded House was formed in Melbourne in 1985, with Neil recruiting former Enz drummer Paul Hester and bassist Nick Seymour to form the band's core. Success didn't take long to arrive, with single Don't Dream It's Over - released the following year - reaching #2 in the US, in addition to topping the charts at home.

Watch the video for Don't Dream It's Over here:


It seems the apple doesn't fall far from the proverbial tree when it comes to the Finns. Both of Neil's sons, Elroy and Liam, are accomplished musicians, with Liam fronting band Betchadupa before embarking on a solo career. Taken from his first solo outing 'I'll Be Lightning', Gather to the Chapel was recorded at Neil's Roundhead Studios, with the video filmed at St Stephen's Chapel above the Parnell Baths.

Watch the video for Gather to the Chapel here:


Continuing to keep it in the family, in 2011 Neil and wife Sharon - facing a not so crowded house once their boys left home - decided to form a band. With Neil swapping to drums, and Sharon on bass, the pair recruited Sean Donnelly (SJD), and Pajama Club was born. The trio recorded an album before adding a fourth member and venturing out on the road. Single Tell Me What You Want offers a great taster of the band's stripped-back style.

Watch the video for Tell Me What You Want here:


See more Finn family content here, in NZ On Screen's Spotlight collection.
Auckland Museum's Volume exhibition also features some great Finn family memorabilia.