The public face of the improvisational, jazz/jam fusion-based Dave Matthews Band (DMB), Dave Matthews enjoyed a religiously devoted fanbase who lived for the band's tours, albums and live music recordings. Launching from the college/fraternity circuit and powered by a bootleg-swapping, Matthews-approved community, the Grammy-winning group's nonstop tours made it one of the most financially successful acts of all time. Notching smash albums like Under the Table and Dreaming and Crash, as well as hit singles such as "Ants Marching," "Crash Into Me" and "The Space Between," DMB became more than a beloved band, but a Grateful Dead-type movement whose followers adored Matthews's funky, rough-edged sound and Earth-friendly ethos. Matthews himself remained the good-natured global citizen at the center of it all, releasing a solo album Some Devil, collaborating with a slew of talented musicians, and making small film appearances in features like "Because of Winn-Dixie" (2005) and several Adam Sandler crowd-pleasers including "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" (2007) and "Just Go With It" (2011). Always humble and unfailingly polite in his public appearances and interviews, Dave Matthews built an amazing musical empire without sacrificing his core message of living a happy and centered life.
Born Jan. 9, 1967 in Johannesburg, South Africa, David John Matthews was born to American parents, John and Valerie Matthews. When he was two, his father's job with IBM moved the family to New York City. At seven, Matthews and his family spent a year in Cambridge, England, but they returned to New York, and Matthews began playing guitar at age nine. In 1977, Matthews' father died of lung cancer, and in 1980, the family returned to Johannesburg, South Africa. Because of the nation's policy of apartheid and mandatory military service, after high school graduation, Matthews returned to the United States and ended up in Charlottesville, VA. Bartending to pay the bills, he joined the local music and theater communities and began to write songs and perform.
Inspired by the musicians he met while serving drinks, Matthews formed a band in early 1991 with a talented group of jazz and classically trained performers: LeRoi Moore, Carter Beauford, Peter Griesar, Boyd Tinsley and Stefan Lessard. Their name "Dave Matthews Band" came about by accident, and even though it seemed to place the focus on Matthews himself, the members considered themselves a true collective. With an eclectic, jam-based sound that included violin/fiddle and harmonica, DMB began to book jobs in the area, especially at fraternity houses, colleges and local clubs. From the beginning, DMB set themselves apart from other acts by encouraging fans to bootleg and share performances, especially since the band's free-flowing, improvisational nature ensured that no two shows would ever sound just the same. With that rare mindset, they succeeded in eventually building a long-lasting, passionate community.
While Griesar left the band in spring of 1993, the remaining members cohered into a powerhouse core, and that fall, released the independent album Remember Two Things, which topped the college charts. Featuring concert staples such as "Tripping Billies," DMB's album and outlook reflected the type of fan/artist relationship reminiscent of The Grateful Dead: the creation of a harmonious and interactive community of empowered fans. Their first live EP, 1994's Recently, helped cement their college fanbase, but their commercial breakthrough came with their 1994 major label release, Under the Table and Dreaming. The set launched the muscular-hippie jam hits "What Would You Say" and "Ants Marching" as well as the soft, melodic "Satellite." Ever present on the tsunami of DMB-related merchandise was a stylized female image of a "firedancer," which was based on a sketch by Matthews and became an instantly recognizable band logo.
The death of Matthews's older sister Anne in a murder/suicide that same year shaped his songwriting and outlook on life. He dedicated Under the Table and Dreaming to her memory, and helped his sister Jane raise Anne's two children. The band's professional momentum went into overdrive with the 1996 release of Crash, which earned them a Grammy as well as mainstream success across the board, propelled by the radio-conquering hits "So Much to Say," "Too Much" and especially the inescapable ballad "Crash Into Me." No matter how powerful the band proved on the charts, their bread and butter remained touring. Drawing record-breaking crowds, faithful followers considered each jam-heavy concert a new religious experience, full of moments of epiphany. In 1997, RCA rereleased DMB's first two indie albums, which went platinum, and the band recorded the enormously popular fan-valentine Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95, notable for its inclusion of Matthews's longtime friend, collaborator and semi-DMB member Tim Reynolds on electric guitar.
Before These Crowded Streets (1998) featured a more somber tone, and launched darker-tinged singles including "Don't Drink the Water" and "Crush." Without the rest of the band, Matthews and Reynolds released a 1999 one-off, Live at Luther College, but DMB reunited to jam at Woodstock '99 and launch another live album, Listener Supported, which also served as a PBS television special and DVD. The band took to the recording studio under producer Steve Lillywhite to work on their fourth album, but scrapped the sessions as well as the producer. Instead, Matthews hooked up with Alanis Morissette's producer, Glen Ballard, to write 2001's more pop-oriented Everyday. Containing some of the band's most commercially successful singles, including "Everyday," "I Did It" and "The Space Between," the album proved divisive with longtime fans who felt that DMB's charmingly rough edges had been smoothed over. The online leaking of The Lillywhite Sessions added a controversial footnote to Everyday, since fans and critics were able to compare the sets' divergent sounds.
In response, DMB took the long-shelved songs and reinterpreted them along with new material on 2002's Busted Stuff, which pleased fans. They also continued to tour and release live albums and DVDs. Matthews weathered a public relations black eye when one of the band's tour bus drivers dumped more than 800 pounds of liquid human waste through a Chicago bridge grate, unfortunately dousing passengers on a boat below. To make amends, they fired the driver, donated a hefty sum to a Chicago River charity and settled the resulting civil lawsuit. Undaunted, Matthews released a platinum-selling solo album, 2003's Some Devil, which spawned the Grammy-winning single "Gravedigger." He toured to support the album as "Dave Matthews & Friends," but soon enough a recharged DMB reunited with the successful 2005 release of Stand Up. Reflecting the breadth of fans enjoyed by DMB, Julia Roberts starred in the video for the single "Dreamgirl."
Although he resisted the label, Matthews was undeniably the band's face and most famous member, and he made many appearances on his own. He played Southern-fried fellows in the family films "Where the Red Fern Grows" (2003) and "Because of Winn-Dixie" (2005), and guested on "House" (FOX, 2004-12) as a musical genius in danger of losing his talent to epilepsy. As part of DMB, he was a repeated musical guest on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) and spoofed Ozzy Osbourne in a 2009 skit which saw cast member Bill Hader playing an ultra laidback Matthews. The singer placed the song "Where Are You Going" in Adam Sandler's comedy "Mr. Deeds" (2002), and the two struck up a friendship, in part based on their similar frat/college-age fanbases and senses of humor. Matthews lensed goofy cameos in the comedian's "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" (2007) as a swishy salesman, "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" (2008) as a racist redneck, and "Just Go With It" (2011) as Nicole Kidman's gay husband.
Still touring the world, DMB allowed fans to determine the lineup for their greatest hits, 2006's The Best of What's Around Vol. 1. Loyal Virginians, the band played a free concert for Virginia Tech in 2007 after the infamous school shootings, and Matthews lent his musical and touring support to Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Always placing equal importance on fans as a necessary member of the band, Matthews announced the 2008 death of the band's saxophonist, LeRoi Moore, at a concert. DMB then released the platinum-selling Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King in 2009, and performed single "You and Me" on the Grammys. In 2011, an era ended when the band made the shocking announcement that they were taking the year off from touring for the first time in their 20 years together.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Special)
Family moved to Cambridge, England from Johannesburg, South Africa
Moved to New York; briefly worked for IBM
Formed the Dave Matthews Band in Charlottesville, Virginia
Played first public show at Charlottesville, VA's Earth Day Festival
Released Dave Matthews Band's debu album <i>Remember Two Things</i> on their Bama Rags label
Released major label debut <i>Under the Table & Dreaming</i> after signing with RCA; produced by Steve Lillywhite
Matthews launched an attack on bootleggers in conjunction with the Federal Government, targeting stores that were selling semilegal discs of live performances
Released <i>Crash</i> the band's second album for RCA
Released double-disc <i>Live at Red Rocks 8-15-95</i> under the Bama Rags/RCA label; without any marketing or promotion, the album debuted at No. 3 on the <i>Billboard</i> charts and was instantly certified platinum
Released third studio album <i>Before These Crowded Streets</i>
Bama Rags/RCA released collaboration album <i>Live at Luther College: An Acoustic Performance by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds</i>
Released <i>Listener Supported</i>, the third installment in ongoing live album series; album was recorded live at New Jersey's Continental Airlines Arena and a video of the performance concurrently released
Joined legendary producer Glen Ballard to co-write 12 new songs for <i>Everyday</i>
Released <i>Busted Stuff</i>, which included the single "Where Are You Going"; single featured on the soundtrack for the Adam Sandler film "Mr. Deeds"
Released first solo album <i>Some Devil</i>, featuring the single "Gravedigger"
Made feature film debut in "Where the Red Fern Grows"
Starred in the family drama "Because of Winn-Dixie" opposite Jeff Daniels and Cicely Tyson
Made a cameo in Sandler's film "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry"
Cast as a racist in "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," starring Sandler
Third film opposite Sandler, "Just Go with It"
Reunited with producer Steve Lillywhite for the Dave Matthews Band album <i>Away From The World</i>