A new documentary about legendary Kiwi band Dragon screens Tuesday night on Prime. NZ On Screen’s Nicky Harrop revisits some of the band’s greatest hits.

Todd Hunter and younger brother Marc were born into a musical family in 1950s Taumaranui. Dragon was formed by Todd in 1972, with Marc swiftly recruited as frontman. After gaining profile in New Zealand, the band relocated to Sydney, working their way up the ranks to eventually achieve significant success on both sides of the Tasman.

Dragon's story has not been without its share of tragedy, however, with the drug-related deaths of drummer Neil Storey and keyboardist (and prolific songwriter) Paul Hewson, as well as the later loss of Marc Hunter.

But Todd Hunter and the band (with new singer Mark Williams) are still going strong, performing the songs that have become Australasian anthems.

April Sun in Cuba

Dragon's major breakthrough came in 1977, with April Sun in Cuba. The song was inspired by a book on chess champion Bobby Fischer, in which he blamed the loss of a game on having the sun in his eyes. Paul Hewson created the signature intro riff on a broken guitar, while lyrics reference John F Kennedy, Fidel Castro and the Cuban missile crisis.

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Are You Old Enough

Released in 1978, Are You Old Enough gave Dragon their first (and only) number one single. Thematically dancing around the age of consent, the song aptly became the theme tune for Australian TV series Puberty Blues in 2012. The video is a time capsule of 70s Melbourne, with Marc Hunter wandering through the city's streets and tramways.




Still in Love With You

Also taken from the O Zambesi album, Still in Love With You is another Paul Hewson-penned Dragon hit. The video does a great job of capturing Marc Hunter's eye-shadowed swagger, while the rest of the band rock shades and, particularly in the case of Hewson, some great late 70s finery.




Rain

After splitting in 1979, Dragon reformed in 1983 to tour and pay off debts. The reunion sparked a creative resurgence, resulting in material for a new album, Body and the Beat. Released in Australia during a time of severe drought, Rain was written by Todd and Marc Hunter with Todd's partner Johanna Piggott. The song's slick 80s production comes courtesy of producer, and later band member, Alan Mansfield (partner of Sharon O'Neill).




Young Years

Released in 1989, the nostalgic lyric of Young Years seems all the more poignant with the knowledge that it marks one of the Hunter brothers' last new recordings together. After being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, Marc Hunter died in 1998, aged 44. Taking the best part of a decade to recover from the loss, Todd eventually started rehearsing a new line-up in 2006.



The Dragon Story screens Tuesday August 11 at 8:30pm on Prime.
You can read a full profile of Dragon at AudioCulture