Dave Matthews Biography

Dave Matthews Biography on Monsters and Critics


"David John Matthews" (born January 9 1967) is a South African, now naturalized American, Grammy-winning lead vocalist and guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band. He has also worked as a solo artist and with other musicians such as Josh Groban, most often with Tim Reynolds. An occasional actor, he has appeared in three feature films.


Early life

Dave is the third of four children born to John and Val Matthews. At age two, Dave's family migrated to Yorktown Heights in Westchester County, New York, where his father, a physicist, went to work for IBM.

In 1974 the family again moved to Cambridge, England for a year before returning to New York-where his father died from lung cancer in 1977. Nevin Martell argues that his father's death may be an impetus for his 'carpe diem' lyrics. The family moved back to South Africa in 1980.

Upon Dave's graduation from St Stithians College high school, he faced a requirement by the South African government to put in two years of compulsory military service. Coming from a devoutly Quaker family, military service was not an option.

Dave would move to Charlottesville, Virgina, a town Dave's family had lived before he was born. It was in Charlottesville, Virginia that he became part of the local music community. Pursuing various interests, Matthews tried his hand on stage, acting in various local productions. While enthusiastic for music, and a popular bartender at a local watering hole called Miller's, Matthews was intimidated by the quality of the local musicians and largely shied away from performing publicly. But local star (and future collaborator) Tim Reynolds finally goaded Matthews to join him on stage one night, and Matthews stunned the audience with his performance. This eventually led to his first professional musical gig at a modern dance performance by the Miki Liszt Dance Company, singing 'Sensitive Feelings,' composed by John D'earth and Dawn Thompson. In 1990 he hatched the idea to form his own band.

In 1994, Dave's older sister, Anne, was murdered in a domestic tragedy that also took her husband's life in South Africa - an event that has had a drastic effect on Dave's outlook on life. Anne is survived by her two children, who, upon Anne's death traveled to America, where Dave and his younger sister Jane took responsibility for their upbringing.

Formation of Dave Matthews Band

Matthews had originally envisioned someone else singing his songs but instead decided to use his own vocals. Yet after writing his first few songs, including 'The Song that Jane Likes' and 'Recently', he began to consider starting his own band. Matthews formed The Dave Matthews Band in early 1991 with Boyd Tinsley, LeRoi Moore, Carter Beauford, Stefan Lessard, and Peter Griesar (who left the band a short time later) while he was working as a bartender at Miller's in Charlottesville. The band's first show was on April 20 1991, at the Earth Day Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia.

They began booking gigs on local stages and to date did not have a name. They considered "Dumela", the Sotho African word for hello, but no real enthusiasm was ever felt. They dropped the idea. It is reported that someone from the band telephoned a place where they were booked and said to 'just write Dave Matthews and a band will show up.' The person receiving the call wrote 'band' after the name, and consequently it stuck.


Originally receiving his musical training on piano, Dave Matthews took the aquired knowledge with his musical skills and transfered them over to the guitar. Such quality of musicianship allows Matthews to write the music first to his songs, before writing his lyrics.

In the late 1990s, Dave Matthews was a guest at two Rolling Stones concerts. He helped DMB manager Coran Capshaw found ATO Records in 2000, and he remains one of the principals of that label. Matthews sang on the track 'Sing Along' on Blue Man Group's second album "The Complex" in 2003. Later that year he released a solo album, "Some Devil", which went platinum; its single, 'Gravedigger,' won a Grammy Award in 2004. To support the album, Matthews toured with a group of musicians (most of whom performed on "Some Devil") under the name Dave Matthews & Friends. This side project of Matthews continues to be active when DMB is on hiatus.

Matthews is also a close friend of Bela Fleck. Matthews appears as a guest vocalist on Bela Fleck and the Flecktones' 1998 release Left of Cool and both Fleck and Flecktones bassist Victor Wooten have made numerous appearances both live and studio with DMB. The Flecktones also opened for DMB on several tours.

Matthews appeared solo and sang 'Everyday' on the post-September 11, 2001, worldwide televised telethon, 'America: A Tribute to Heroes.'

Matthews recorded a live session at Abbey Road Studios for Live From Abbey Road on the 14th May 2006.

Dave and Tim Reynolds recently did a three show tour performing at the Wang Theater for Performing Arts in Boston, MA, the campus of University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a much anticipated show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The dates of these shows were April 20, 21, and 22, 2007. The show at Radio City Music Hall (April 22, 2007) in New York City has been released as the first Dave and Tim CD/DVD combination set.


Dave Matthews has also acted in three feature films, with a fourth on the way. He played Will Coleman in the 2003 adaptation of the novel "Where the Red Fern Grows". He also portrayed the character Otis, the timid and shy cousin of the owner of a small pet-shop for which he is caring, in the 2005 film "Because of Winn-Dixie", which was based on the novel of the same name. In 2007, Matthews appears briefly in the movie "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" where he plays a homosexual salesman. His next film is Lake City with Sissy Spacek and Troy Garity.

Dave Matthews was an invited guest for season 3 episode 15 ('Half-Wit') of the FOX drama series "House M.D." which aired March 6th, 2007. Dave played a piano-playing musical savant named Patrick Obyedkov who ended up having half of his brain removed in order to recover from his mental retardation, but at the expense of his musical abilities. Patrick's father, Dr. Obyedkov (played by Kurtwood Smith), gave consent for the operation to proceed as he desired ultimate happiness for his son. Dr. Obyedkov reasoned that true happiness could only be experienced in a self-aware state of consciousness which Patrick had lacked since his accident when he was 10 years old. Matthews had a piano double for his complex pieces but played the simpler pieces. "House" star Hugh Laurie played all of his own piano parts.

Dave Matthews record label ATO also recently branched out into the film industry with the company's first feature film 'Joshua'. Dave Matthews also wrote and performed a song for the ending credits of the movie called 'The Fly'.

Farming and wine

Since 2001, Matthews has been one of the directors of Farm Aid along with Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young. Matthews owns 542 hectares (1,340 acres) of farmland near Scottsville, Virginia named Maple Hill Farm, where he grows organic vegetables, flowers, and herbs through a community-supported agriculture program. Close to the farm, Matthews maintains the 1.6 hectare (4 acre) Blenheim Vineyards which utilizes gravity flow and other gentle winemaking techniques.

Personal life

Matthews married his long time girlfriend, Ashley Harper who was a naturopathic doctor, on August 10, 2000. The couple has twin daughters, Stella Busina and Grace Anne, born on August 15, 2001, and a son, August Oliver, born on June 19, 2007, at their home in Seattle, Washington.


Matthews and his band performed a free concert for the Virginia Tech student body and faculty on September 6, 2007. They were joined by John Mayer, Phil Vassar, and Nas.

The whole concert lasted 6 hours and more than 52,000 people attended.

Past and present equipment

Martin DM3MD Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar model numbers 1, 2 and 3

Martin HD-28V Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar

Martin D-35 Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar

Martin D12-28 Steel 12-String Acoustic Guitar

Taylor 914C Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar

Taylor 714 Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar

Taylor W65 Steel 12-String Acoustic Guitar

Taylor Custom Baritone Jumbo Guitar (Based on LKSM6)

Yamaha Country Jumbo CJ-818SB 6 String Guitar

Gibson J-150 6 String Guitar

Gibson Chet Atkins SST Solid Body Acoustic Guitar (not used since 2000)

Lakewood M-32 Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar

Veillette Gryphon 12-String Guitar

Modulus Genesis Three SH

Jerry Jones Baritone Electric Guitar

Santa Cruz Bob Brozman Baritone

Dunlop Tortex .6mm Guitar Picks

D'Addario EXP15 Strings (6-String)

D'Addario EJ39 Strings (12-String)

Matchless DC-30 Amplifier

Shure UHF Wireless System

Shure UHE Antenna Distro

UltraSound/BSS Audio Soundweb Custom Switcher

Korg DTR-1 Digital Tuner

Taylor GS7


Studio albums

"Recently" (1997)

"Under the Table and Dreaming (1994)

"Crash" (1996)

"Before These Crowded Streets" (1998)

"Everyday" (2001)

"Busted Stuff" (2003)

"Some Devil solo album feat. Tim Reynolds & Trey Anastasio" (2003)

"Stand Up" (2005)

"The Best of What's Around, Vol.1 Disc 1" (2006)

Live albums

"Remember Two Things" (1992)

"Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95" (1995)

"Live in Chicago at the United Center 12.19.98" (1999)

"Live at Luther College" (1999) (with Tim Reynolds)

"Listener Supported" (1999)

"Live at Folsom Field - Boulder, Colorado" (2002)

"The Gorge" (2002)

"The Central Park Concert" (2003)

"Live at The Centrum, Worcester, MA" (2004)

"Live at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco" (2004)

"Live at Meadows Music Theatre, Hartford, CT" (2004)

"Live at the Classic Ampitheatre, Richmond, VA" (2005)* "


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Dave Matthews.

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