Born: Neil Mullane Finn
Date: May 27, 1958
Where: Te Awamutu, New Zealand
Known As: new wave/adult pop singer/songwriter
Check out the Dave’s Music Database podcast: The Best of Crowded House & Neil Finn based on the DMDB list of The Top 100 Songs of Neil & Tim Finn.
Hover over an album for the name and year of release. Click to see its DMDB page.
See the DMDB list of The Top 100 Songs of Neil & Tim Finn.
“Neil…was born in Te Awamutu, a small town near Hamilton in the volcanic regions of New Zealand…His father, Richard, was a farmer's accountant, and his mother, Mary, a Catholic daughter of an Irish farmhand. Neil has three siblings: Carolyn, Tim and Judy.” SW “From a young age, Neil’s [older] brother Tim…was a large musical influence.” JL Neil “learned to play the piano and his parents encouraged him to sing with his brother Tim at their parties.” SW
“One of Neil's early dreams in life was to become a priest, but soon he got interested in music…As a teenager, while studying at Sacred Heart College (a Catholic boarding school) and later at Te Awamutu College, he performed his music in prisons, hospitals and clinics in his hometown.” SW He sent his brother “recordings of early jam sessions with fellow Sacred Heart boarding school attendee Jonathan Michael Chunn” JL later of Split Enz.
”While a teenager, Neil found an outlet for his music by joining the All'n Some Folk Club, which allowed Neil the chance to play with other musicians and write his own music. In 1975, Neil was critically acclaimed as the support act for the Split Enz Australia/New Zealand tour.” JL
Split Enz (1977-1984):
“In 1976, he quit school and began working as a hospital orderly in Auckland, and formed a group called After Hours with Mark Hough, Geoff Chunn, and Alan Brown. After Hours' debut gig was in Auckland on March 15, 1977. In the audience was Geoff’s older brother Mike, bassist with Split Enz…[He was] in New Zealand to ask guitarist Alastair Riddell to replace the recently departed Phil Judd in Split Enz. Around two weeks later, Neil got a phone call from his brother Tim in London. Riddell had turned the offer down, and Mike…suggested Neil, [who had] impressed [Chunn with his] abilities as a singer and a songwriter…Neil arrived to London on April 7, 1977, to join Split Enz.” SW
”Neil brought a fresh perspective to the songwriting, and…penned many of the band’s major hits, most notably I Got You, which virtually catapulted the Enz from obscurity to international fame. It was the biggest selling Australian Single that year and received the "Song of the Year" award at the ARIA's, Australia's biggest music award.” JL
Neil stayed with the Enz until the end, even fronting the band on their 1984 final album, See Ya ‘Round, after brother Tim left for a solo career. “Neil…decided that it would be better to start from scratch with a new group.” JL
Crowded House (1985-1994):
“After…a farewell tour…Neil went on to form a new group…known as Mullanes after Neil's middle name” SW with “Paul Hester (Split Enz’s last drummer) and Melbourne bassist/artist Nick Seymour…They moved to Los Angeles in 1985 and stayed in a cramped North Hollywood home while shopping for a record label, which inspired a name change to Crowded House. Armed with producer Mitchell Froom and a record deal from Capitol, the band wrote and recorded what was to be their biggest commercial success. Their self-titled debut launched their most successful single Don’t Dream It’s Over, which reached #2 on the US Billboard charts in 1987. This album was followed in 1988 by Temple of Low Men, which drew rave reviews from the critics.” JL
”In 1989, while Neil simultaneously worked on both the next Crowded House album and a project with his brother, Tim suggested a merging of Crowded House and the Finn Brothers projects, combining the best songs from both. Tim joined Crowded House for their 1991 album Woodface and the following tour. Weather With You broke Crowded House into the UK market, reaching #7 on their charts, and Woodface went triple platinum in the UK and double platinum in Australia.” JL
”Together Alone, the band's fourth and final studio album…was released in 1993. In 1994, Crowded House won the much-coveted Q magazine award for Best International Act, beating out U2, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam.” JL
Beyond Crowded House (1995-2009):
“After the Together Alone tour, Neil returned home to New Zealand where he spent time with Tim working on the Finn Brothers sessions again. The result was 1995's Finn, an album which the brothers produced and played all their own instruments.” JL
”In 1996, Neil participated in Eddie Rayner’s ENZSO project (the symphonic orchestration of the music of Split Enz). Not long after the decision to break up CH, the band released Recurring Dream, a compilation of greatest hits, live tracks, and three songs that had been written and recorded for what would have been a fifth studio album.” JL
1998 marked Neil’s first solo release, Try Whistling This, an album followed three years later by One Nil. In 2004, the Finn Brothers released their second album.
“Neil Finn lives in Melbourne, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand, with his wife Sharon (whom he married on February 13, 1982) and their sons Liam Mullane (born on September 24, 1983) and Elroy Timothy (born on October 25, 1989) and their dog Lester.” SW “Neil and…Sharon own and run a pub in Auckland, called Tabac. [Son Liam] heads a band of his own, ‘Betchadupa’” WK and, in 2007, released a solo album, I’ll Be Lightning.
In 2009, Finn assembled many of the performers who’d come together for his 7 Worlds Collide live album. This time out, the collective recorded under the 7 Worlds Collide banner to craft a 2-disc collection called The Sun Came Out.
Crowded House Reunion (2007-2010):
In 2005, Paul Hester, who had played drums with Neil Finn in Split Enz and Crowded House, committed suicide. This prompted a reunion between Finn and Nick Seymour of Crowded House. They enlisted multi-instrumentalist Mark Hart, formerly of Supertramp, and drummer Matt Sherrod, who’d worked with Beck, to record the album Time on Earth in 2007.
The new Crowded House lineup toured in support of the album and re-convened again in 2010 for the album Intriguer.
Family Projects (2010-):
Over the next decade, Neil released another solo album, Dizzy Heights, in 2014 and worked on projects with family members. In 2011, he formed the one-off Pajama Club with his wife Sharon. In 2018, he and his son Liam recorded the album Lightsleeper. In 2021, Neil brought Crowded House together again, this time with his sons Liam and Elroy on board.
In 2012, Neil contributed the song “Song of the Lonely Mountain” to the soundtrack for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
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First posted 7/13/2010; updated 6/8/2021.