Neil Mullane Finn was born on 27 May 1958 in Te Awamutu near Hamilton in New Zealand. His brother, Tim (founder of seminal New Zealand band Split Enz) was 6 years older, and involved Neil in music very early on, sending him tapes of jam sessions from university.
In his teens, Neil joined the All'n Some Folk Club, which gave him the chance to play with other musicians, and a forum to present his own music. In 1975, aged 18, Neil played as a support act on
the Split Enz Australia/New Zealand tour, and got excellent reviews. A year later he formed the Neil
band After Hours, but that was short lived as his brother Tim invited him to join Split Enz line-up in 1977.
Neil brought new blood and a new perspective to Split Enz's songwriting team, and he wrote many of the band's biggest hits. The most important of these was probably I Got You, which was instrumental in lifting the Enz to worldwide fame after several years of relative obscurity. It was the biggest selling Australian Single in 1979 and received the "Song of the Year" award at the ARIA's, the biggest music awards in Australia.
After the Enz broke up in 1985, Neil formed a new group, briefly called The Mullanes before the name was changed to Crowded House. This was to become the most successful New Zealand band in the late 80's and early 90's, almost entirely due to the beautifully crafted, haunting lyrics and music that Neil wrote.
Crowded House remained together for 10 years, and although the band only recorded four albums in that period, songs like Don't Dream It's Over, Distant Sun, Four Seasons in One Day and Better Be Home Soon are such classic pop that they are guaranteed to be remembered.
In 1995 Neil recoded Finn, an album which was his and brother Tim's from start to finish. As well as writing all the material, they produced, and played all their own instruments.
In 1996, Neil was involved in in Eddie Rayner's ENZSO project where the music of Split Enz got the full orchestral treatment, and Recurring Dream, a compilation of Crowded House's greatest hits, was released after the band's dissolution was announced. They played a final tour, culminating with a farewwell performance at the Sydney Opera House.
Since then, Neil has been working on solo projects and tours, with Try Whistling This recorded in New York City in December 1997, and released in 1998. His second album One Nil due for release in March 2001. Neil is touring extensively in 2001, and on the New Zealand leg of the tour he's making a departure -- rather than taking a band with him, at each gig he is supported on stage by young local musicians -- risky, but resulting (certainly at the show I saw on 1 March 2001) in a raw, energetic, back-to-basics feel.
Neil Finn will never be prolific, but for as long as he goes on writing as he has, he will always be worth seeing.