This month, Dave Dobbyn celebrates 40 years of music with a national tour, and a new album compiling his many hits. One of our most celebrated songwriters and performers, Dobbyn's history has seen him move from bands to become an accomplished solo artist, one who continues to be an important voice in our musical landscape.
The seeds of Dobbyn's path in music were sewn early. Forming Th' Dudes with former high school mates Ian Morris and Peter Urlich, the band recruited drummer Bruce Hambling and bassist Lez White, and quickly established themselves on the Auckland live scene. After three years of constant gigging they released their debut single - the Dobbyn and Morris-penned Be Mine Tonight. The song went on to win Single of the Year at the 1979 NZ Music Awards, becoming the first of many Dobbyn classics.
Watch the video for Be Mine Tonight here:
Th' Dudes split in 1980, and Dobbyn soon found himself fronting a new band. DD Smash also became firm favourites on the pub circuit, and provided a platform for Dobbyn's ever growing talent as a songwriter. Hits began to arrive thick and fast, and soon the band had its first Top 10 single, with Outlook for Thursday going on to spend an impressive 21 weeks in the charts.
Watch the video for Outlook for Thursday here:
Following the demise of DD Smash, Dobbyn sought to establish himself as a solo artist, signing on to compose and perform the soundtrack for the film adaptation of Murray Ball's Footrot Flats. Featuring guests Herbs, the soundtrack's lead single would become one of Dobbyn's biggest hits. Released in 1986, Slice of Heaven gave Dobbyn his first #1 - topping the charts in both New Zealand and Australia.
See the video for Slice of Heaven here:
Dobbyn's first full solo album, Loyal, was released in 1988, and featured the single of the same name. Of all of Dobbyn's hits, Loyal has arguably endured the longest, voted by APRA members in 2001 as the third-best New Zealand song of the 20th Century (one of his 10 songwriting credits on the list), used by Team New Zealand as its campaign song for its 2002 America's Cup defence, and widely agreed to have achieved national anthem status.
See the video for Loyal here:
Beneath their poetry, Dobbyn's lyrics also reveal him as an astute social commentator. 2005's Welcome Home was inspired by the treatment of asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui, and, more than a decade on, remains as relevant as ever in its call for togetherness.
Watch the video for Welcome Home here:
In 2014, Dobbyn was invited by Wellington's Orpheus Choir to pay tribute to those lost in the Pike River mine disaster. Before composing the resulting single - This Love - he travelled to Greymouth, meeting with the families of the victims and visiting the site of the mine. Captured in the documentary Dreams Lie Deeper, this excerpt shows the premiere performance of This Love at a Wellington tribute concert. Dreams Lie Deeper was broadcast on the fourth anniversary of the tragedy.
See Dave performing This Love here:
You can learn more about Dave Dobbyn here at AudioCulture.co.nz.
See more Dave Dobbyn content here, in NZ On Screen's Spotlight collection.