While Neil Finn1, made megabucks with Crowded House he cut his recording and performing teeth with his brother, Tim, in one of New Zealand's premier rock bands and the first to garner international success, Split Enz.
In the Beginning
Formed in 1972, Split Enz were a zany bunch of Kiwi individualists arguably more renowned for their outlandish stage costumes (designed by resident spoon specialist Noel Crombie) and anarchic antics than for their quirky music. They recorded their debut album in 1975, Mental Notes; it displayed an arty and eclectic mix of styles.
The original lead guitarist and co-founder, Phil Judd, by then disillusioned with audiences and touring, went his separate way during a tour in the mid-1970s and Tim roped in younger sibling Neil.
They released their Dizrythmia album showcasing Neil's already apparent talents in 1977. Its opener, 'My Mistake', was their first Top 20 hit in the Australian charts but, in England, with its punk explosion, they came across as one of the despised progressive rock bands and neither album nor single fared well.
In 1978 they released the disappointing Frenzy and a single from the album - the rocking 'I See Red', and the latter of these made the Australasian charts.
They followed this the following year with the far more satisfying True Colours, featuring the Neil-penned single 'I Got You'. Both were successful chartbusters in Australia and New Zealand, went platinum in Canada and performed respectably in the UK and USA.
In fact, their success at this time was such that on their 1981 American tour, they got equal billing with Tom Petty and his band.
Following a break from their intensive touring schedule, the band re-grouped to record Time and Tide, regarded as their most personal and artistically creative album to date. MTV, doting as it did on 'new wavers', gave heavy exposure to 'Dirty Creature' and 'Six Months In A Leaky Boat'. Aunty Beeb, however, for reasons best known to herself, banned the latter.
Leader of the Pack
Up to this point, Tim Finn had been responsible for the bulk of the songwriting duties. In 1983, he sidestepped Split Enz to release a solo gem, Escapade with its 'Fraction Too Much Friction' single.
Upon returning for the Conflicting Emotions album, he found not only a new drummer, Paul Hester, but also a band that had lost much of its breakneck impetus, and that Little Brother Neil had written most of the songs on the set.
Perhaps this was just as well, as he soon announced his imminent departure. Now in the lead role, Neil gathered the band for a last hurrah, the patchy See Ya Round.
Split Enz was dissolved in 1985 but Neil remained teamed with Paul; the rest, as they say, is history.
In 1996, Tim and Neil undertook a major New Zealand tour backed up by none other than the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra. Set up by Enz keyboards player Eddie Rayner, it also involved another Kiwi rock legend, Dave Dobbyn, chanteuse Annie Crummer and popular poet, Sam Hunt. The concerts received rave reviews and were well received by appreciative audiences everywhere.