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Neil Finn

Neil Finn
Finn at the world premiere of The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey - November 2012 Wellington, New Zealand
Background information
Birth name Neil Mullane Finn
Born (1958-05-27) 27 May 1958
Te Awamutu, New Zealand
Genres Rock, art rock, new wave, pop
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, ukulele, mandolin, keyboards, bass guitar, drums, piano
Years active 1976–present
Labels Columbia
Lester Records, LTD
Associated acts After Hours, Split Enz, Crowded House, Finn Brothers, The Mullanes, Flight of the Conchords, 7 Worlds Collide, Pajama Club
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul
1963 Fender Stratocaster
Fender Telecaster
Roland JC 160 amp
VOX AC30 amp
Gretsch Jet Firebird
Maton Signature Acoustic
Maton Sapphire
Maton Fyrbyrd

Neil Mullane Finn OBE (born 27 May 1958) is a New Zealand singer/songwriter and musician. Along with his brother Tim Finn, he was the co-frontman for Split Enz, a project that he joined after it was initially founded by Tim Finn and others, and is now frontman for Crowded House. He has also recorded several successful solo albums and assembled diverse musicians for the 7 Worlds Collide project; contributor Ed O'Brien, also guitarist for Radiohead, has hailed Finn as popular music's "most prolific writer of great songs".[3]

Finn rose to prominence in the late 1970s with Split Enz and wrote the successful songs "One Step Ahead", "History Never Repeats", "I Got You" and "Message to My Girl", among others. Finn rose from prominence to international fame after Split Enz broke up in 1984. While his brother Tim Finn left for England, Neil was the founder of Crowded House with Split Enz's final drummer Paul Hester in 1985. The group achieved international success in 1987 when they released the single "Don't Dream It's Over", written by Neil Finn.

He ended Crowded House in 1996 to embark upon what was to become a moderately successful solo career, and has released two albums with his brother Tim under the title the Finn Brothers. In 2006, following the death of Hester, Finn reformed Crowded House (adding Beck's former drummer Matt Sherrod) and released their first studio album in over 13 years, Time on Earth, and the band began a world tour. In 2010, Finn commenced another world tour with Crowded House in support of their 2010 release, Intriguer. In February 2014 Finn released his third solo album "Dizzy Heights."[4]


  • Biography 1
    • 1958–1978: Early life 1.1
    • 1977–1984: Split Enz 1.2
    • 1985–1996: Crowded House 1.3
    • 1997–2006: Solo work 1.4
    • 2006–present: Reformation of Crowded House and Pajama Club 1.5
  • Film and television 2
  • Collaborations 3
  • Charity work 4
  • Personal life 5
  • Recent work 6
  • Neil Finn solo discography 7
    • Albums 7.1
    • Singles 7.2
    • Other contributions 7.3
      • As performer 7.3.1
      • As producer 7.3.2
      • As session musician 7.3.3
  • Awards 8
    • APRA Awards 8.1
    • RIANZ New Zealand Music Awards 8.2
  • References 9
  • External links 10


1958–1978: Early life

Neil Finn during Crowded House's heyday – San Francisco, 1987

Finn was born the youngest of four children to Dick and Mary Finn in Te Awamutu, New Zealand.[5] His mother, a devout Catholic who moved to New Zealand from Ireland at the age of two, maintained a religious influence over the family.[6] Speaking of Catholicism, Finn stated "It's a great fertile ground for pulling lyrics out. [There's] lots of good stuff going on in there, good rituals and imagery and lots of guilt. It's a very potent combination. I think you're blessed, really, to be brought up with some kind of weird dogma like that."[7] His father, the son of a farmer from Waikato, served in the army in Italy and became an accountant during World War II.[6] His parents instilled an "inspiring admiration of music" in young Finn; the family would often engage in sing-alongs around the family piano.[8] In addition to music, Finn also enjoyed sports, particularly swimming, rugby, tennis, and biking.[9]

As a child, Finn would often perform at family gatherings with his older brother Tim. Finn recalled, "We'd sing all night. It was very much part of our upbringing...That was the first inkling of the seduction of live performance."[10] He idolized his brother and wished to imitate his actions, learning to play guitar and piano at the same time Tim Finn did.[11] Tim Finn was more public about his musical aspirations, and won ten shillings in his school's annual talent contest shortly after enrolling.[12] When Tim Finn left to study at Sacred Heart College, a boarding school in Auckland, eight-year-old Neil Finn started playing a guitar that was left behind by his older brother.[13] A natural performer, Finn was nicknamed 'The Ant' by his family due to his determined and ambitious nature.[14]

Finn attended Sacred Heart boarding school and Te Awamutu College. He decided to become a musician at the age of 12 and throughout his school years performed in prisons and hospitals, as well as at home gatherings. Finn finished school in 1975.

1977–1984: Split Enz

In 1976, Finn formed the group After Hours, with Mark Hough, Geoff Chunn and Alan Brown. Not long after the band's debut performance, Finn was invited to London to join Split Enz, replacing original singer-songwriter Phil Judd. By 1980, he was sharing lead singer duties and wrote their first international hit, "I Got You". Finn contributed significantly to the band's later albums, and even briefly assumed leadership of the band after Tim Finn left in 1984, prior to the cessation of the band.

1985–1996: Crowded House

Performing with Crowded House in 1996

After the breakup of Split Enz in 1984. Finn formed a new band called The Mullanes (Mullane being both his middle name and his mother's maiden name) with Split Enz drummer Paul Hester, guitarist Craig Hooper of The Reels and bassist Nick Seymour (younger brother of Hunters & Collectors leader Mark Seymour), whom Neil had met on the final Split Enz tour. Hooper left just before they recorded their first album, at which time the band was renamed Crowded House, inspired by the rental home they shared while recording in Los Angeles.

Crowded House went on to enormous success worldwide, in particular with two major hits: "Don't Dream It's Over" (US #2, 1987) and "Weather With You" (UK #7, 1992). Both Neil and his brother Tim were invested as Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to New Zealand music in the 1993 Queen's Birthday Honours List.[15] After releasing four albums, Crowded House, Temple of Low Men, Woodface, and Together Alone, the group broke up in 1996, and followed this action by releasing a greatest hits album Recurring Dream.

1997–2006: Solo work

Following the breakup of Crowded House, Finn embarked on a solo career. The album Afterglow was released in 1999, which contained previously unreleased Crowded House recordings. Finn appeared alongside Roddy Frame and Graham Gouldman as part of the BBC Four's "Songwriters' Circle" series in 1999, and explained that "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Better Be Home Soon" were both written quickly, with all of the elements of each song—such as lyrics and verses—emerging at the same time—Finn also sang the opening lines of The Verve song "The Drugs Don't Work" to the opening chords of the latter song.[16]

Finn has recorded three solo albums to-date, the most recent being "Dizzy Heights" (2014). His previous albums were Try Whistling This (1998) and One Nil (2001). One Nil was released in the US and Canada in a remixed version—with two new tracks, one track deleted and reordering—and was renamed One All (2002). Finn and Tim Finn also collaborated on a Finn Brothers albums, Finn, that was released in 1995/

In 2001, he released a live album/DVD (7 Worlds Collide) consisting of songs recorded at St James Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand with the likes of Lisa Germano, Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing), Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway (Radiohead), Johnny Marr (The Smiths), Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Paul Jeffrey, Tim Finn, and Betchadupa. Finn was additionally heavily involved in creating the 2001 soundtrack for the motion picture Rain. Everyone Is Here, a second Finn Brothers album, was released in 2004.

2006–present: Reformation of Crowded House and Pajama Club

In January 2007, Crowded House reformed with Neil, Nick Seymour, Mark Hart and new drummer Matt Sherrod (following the suicide of Paul Hester in 2005). The group's new album Time on Earth was released in June 2007; in the pre-release build up, they headlined a show at Coachella in April 2007, then commenced a world tour.

In March 2009, Finn joined Tim Finn on stage, with his son Liam, at Melbourne's charity Sound Relief concert at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, in support of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. Liam Finn played drums on a rendition of the Crowded House song "Weather With You".[17]

Finn and wife Sharon began a side project called Pajama Club in 2011. After Finn's children, Liam and Elroy, left the family home to pursue their own musical careers, the two wondered what to do to fill the time left open by their children's absence.[18] The two decided to repair the music room in their Auckland home and begin making music of their own: "We've had a bit more time on our hands since the boys left home, and we just decided to make a record. It was as simple as that. We called the group Pajama Club, because we were dressed in our pajamas when we started."[18] Here, Sharon began to play the bass guitar, while Neil sat behind the drum set, despite the fact that neither had played either instrument before. Neil commented that "We found ourselves locking into these grooves which were incredibly fun to play...We naturally gravitated towards being 'funky'," drawing influence from South Bronx band ESG.[18] Pajama Club released their self-titled debut album in September 2011.

In February 2014, Finn released his third solo album titled Dizzy Heights, before embarking on a world tour spanning four continents.[4]

Film and television

Finn has contributed solo music to various film and TV soundtracks including Rain, Boston Legal, Boston Public, The Waiting Game, Antz, and Sports Night. In 2012, Finn recorded the song "Song of the Lonely Mountain", which was featured in the end credits of Peter Jackson's film adaptation The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.[19]


The Dixie Chicks release Taking the Long Way has a song co-written with Finn, entitled "Silent House", which is also on Crowded House's "Time On Earth" album. It deals with people suffering from Alzheimer's disease, slowly finding that familiar faces and items long cherished are slipping away from their memory. Neil Finn was also featured as a backing vocalist on the Sheryl Crow song, "Everyday is a Winding Road" from her self-titled second album, released in 1997. He also produced the song "Greenstone" from Emma Paki's debut album Oxygen of Love. Finn has also produced and recorded with various New Zealand acts such as Bic Runga, The Mutton Birds and Dave Dobbyn.

In 2006, Neil and Tim Finn were both honoured by a slew of women re-recording and re-interpreting a selection of their songs with the album She Will Have Her Way which featured artists performing Neil Finn's songs such as Kasey Chambers, Clare Bowditch, Boh Runga with her band Stellar*, Renée Geyer, Brooke Fraser, Holly Throsby, Sarah Blasko, Amiel and Natalie Imbruglia.

Finn playing at Calvin Theatre, August 2007

Neil played solo at New Zealand WOMAD 2008 festival, filling in at short notice for another performer who had become unwell.

In December 2008 several of the 7 Worlds Collide lineup reconvened in Auckland, New Zealand to record The Sun Came Out, a charity album for Oxfam to be released 29 September 2009. It was recorded in Finn's own Roundhead Studios and will feature all-new material, with singing and songwriting contributions divided amongst the group. Most of the original members of Crowded House have returned, along with several new additions including Jeff Tweedy and three other members of Wilco, Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall, and notable New Zealand songwriters Don McGlashan and Bic Runga. As in 2001 the group gave a series of live performances, though at three nights the run was shorter and the venue was more intimate.

Finn had a cameo appearance acting role on the BBC Radio Show Flight of the Conchords. Finn appeared on fellow musician Missy Higgins' CD, On a Clear Night (2007). He played electric guitar for the song "Peachy", and sang backing vocals on "Going North".

During February and March 2013 Finn and Paul Kelly undertook their collaborative Goin' Your Way Tour of Australia.[20][21] One of their performances at the Sydney Opera House was recorded for the live album, Goin' Your Way (8 November 2013).[20] It was issued as a 2× CD, which peaked at No. 5 on the ARIA Albums Chart.[22] It was also issued as a DVD, which peaked at No. 1 on the related ARIA Music DVD Chart.[23]

Charity work

In 1986 Finn performed with The Rock Party a charity project initiated by The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NCADA), which included many Australasian musicians such as Reg Mombassa from Mental As Anything, Eddie Rayner, Tim Finn, Nick Seymour and Paul Hester of Crowded House, Geoff Stapleton, Mark Callaghan and Robbie James of GANGgajang, Mary Azzopardi of Rockmelons, Andrew Barnum of The Vitabeats, Lissa Barnum, Michael Barclay, Peter Blakely, Deborah Conway, Jenny Morris, Danny De Costa, Greg Herbert (The Promise), Spencer P Jones, Sean Kelly (Models), John Kennedy, Paul Kelly, Martin Plaza (Mental as Anything), Robert Susz (Dynamic Hepnotics) and Rick Swinn (The Venetians).[24] The Rock Party released a 12" single "Everything To Live For", which was produced by Joe Wissert, Phil Rigger and Phil Beazley.[24]

Neil Finn in 1996

In February 2007, Neil Finn performed with his son Elroy and Jimmy Barnes at a charity benefit concert for cerebral palsy. The event was held at the Roxburgh Hall, Stowe School, Stowe in Buckinghamshire, UK. The benefit was in aid of the UK charity Scope, a charity for people with cerebral palsy.

Personal life

Finn married Sharon Dawn Johnson, on 13 February 1982. The song "I Love You Dawn", available on Afterglow (an album of unreleased Crowded House tracks and B-sides) was penned in her honour. Sharon creates chandeliers in her workshop in Auckland, many of which featured on stage in the 2004–05 tours promoting the Everyone Is Here album. She has appeared on backing vocals on various albums such as Crowded House and Alex Lloyd's Watching Angels Mend She also features prominently on the new 7 Worlds Collide project, co-writing (and sharing lead vocal on) the track 'Little By Little' with her husband and sings on the track 'Isolation' on the new Crowded House album, Intriguer.

Finn and wife Sharon formed a band of their own titled 'Pajama Club' after their two sons moved out of the family home and they were left with a lot of free time. They released their self-titled debut album in September 2011.[25]

They have two sons, Liam Mullane Finn (born 1983) (Split Enz's "Our Day" was written about his birth) and Elroy Timothy Finn (born 1989). Both sons are multi-instrumentalists, like their father, and often perform alongside him on tour and in the recording studio. Liam had his own band, Betchadupa, originally based in Auckland, then London before releasing a solo album, I'll Be Lightning in 2008. He also played in Crowded House's touring band lineup in 2007. Elroy Finn is also following in his father and brother's musical footsteps as drummer for the psychobilly band The Tricks and has previously filled in on drums for Cut Off Your Hands. Elroy began touring as Liam's drummer in 2011 to promote Liam's second album 'FOMO'.

Recent work

Both Tim and Neil Finn share the stage and have released two albums under the name The Finn Brothers. They have also performed with Neil Finn's son Liam Finn.

Neil Finn's "Song of the Lonely Mountain" was composed for end credits of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. His sons Elroy and Liam perform with him.[19]

Neil Finn's solo album Dizzy Heights was released in Australia and New Zealand on 7 February 2014 via Kobalt Label Services. His sons and his wife also play on the album.[26]

On the 27th February 2015 Tim, Neil and Liam performed a sellout show at the Auckland Zoo (Auckland, New Zealand) that also featured Elroy Finn, Sharon Finn, Tim's children Harper and Elliot Finn, and Dick Finn (Tim and Neil's dad) watched on skype.

Neil Finn solo discography

This discography relates to solo releases by Neil Finn only. See Split Enz discography, Crowded House discography and The Finn Brothers' discography for other related works.


Title Details Peak chart positions
Try Whistling This
  • Released: 16 June 1998
  • Label: Parlophone (72434 95139 2 1)
1 1 5 18 88 19
Sessions at West 54th
One Nil
  • Released with the title One All in the United States in 2002.
  • Released: 19 March 2001
  • Label: Parlophone (7243 5 32112 2 6)
1 9 14 26
7 Worlds Collide
  • Released: 26 February 2002
  • Label: Parlophone (5366452)
5 140 45
The Sun Came Out
  • Released: 31 August 2009
  • Label: Sony (88697583451)
2 39 58
Goin' Your Way 5
Dizzy Heights
  • Released: 7 February 2014
  • Label: Lester Records Ltd, Kobalt
5 6 22 53
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Message to My Girl"
(ENZSO with Neil Finn)
1996 56 ENZSO
"Sinner" 1998 40 39 Try Whistling This
"She Will Have Her Way" 19 61 26
"Last One Standing" 1999
"I Can See Clearly Now" 16 88 Non-album single
"Can You Hear Us" 1
"Rest of the Day Off" 2001 29 77 One Nil
"Wherever You Are" 32
"Last to Know"
"Hole In the Ice" 43
"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" 7 Worlds Collide
"Divebomber" 2014 Dizzy Heights
"Flying in the Face of Love"
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Other contributions

As performer

As producer

As session musician

  • Just Drove Thru Town (1979, album) - Citizen Band
  • Sing (1984, album) - Big Choir
  • "Everything To Live For" (1986, maxi-single) - The Rock Party
  • Rikki & Pete (1988, soundtrack)[32]


APRA Awards

  • 2002 Silver Scroll Award: "Turn and Run"
  • Most Performed Work Overseas (1994): Neil Finn & Tim Finn, "Weather With You" (with Crowded House)
  • Most Performed Work Overseas (1995, 2000-1, 2003 – present): Neil Finn, "Don't Dream It's Over" (with Crowded House)

RIANZ New Zealand Music Awards

The New Zealand Music Awards are awarded annually by the RIANZ in New Zealand.
Year Award[33] Work With Result
1984 International Achievement Split Enz Nominated
1987 International Achievement Neil Finn Won
1988 International Achievement Neil Finn Won
1992 Best Songwriter "Fall At Your Feet" Neil Finn, Crowded House Won
"It's Only Natural" with Tim Finn, Crowded House Nominated
1994 International Achievement Crowded House Won
1995 Best Producer "Twist" Nominated
"Greenstone" Nominated
Best Songwriter "Private Universe" Won
International Achievement Crowded House Won
1996 Album of the Year Finn Finn Brothers Nominated
Best Group Finn Brothers Nominated
International Achievement: Finn Brothers Nominated
Best Cover Finn Neil Finn and Wayne Conway Nominated
1997 International Achievement Crowded House Nominated
1999 Album of the Year Try Whistling This solo Nominated
Top Male Vocalist solo Won
International Achievement: solo Nominated
Best Songwriter "She Will Have Her Way" solo Nominated
2002 Album of the Year One Nil solo Nominated
Top Male Vocalist One Nil solo Won
2005 Album of the Year Everyone Is Here Finn Brothers Nominated
Single of the Year "Won't Give In" Finn Brothers Nominated
International Achievement Award Everyone Is Here Finn Brothers Won



  1. ^
  2. ^ Musician (vol. 177-122) Amordian Press, 1988 (Neil Finn has a sunburst Fender Telecaster, sunburst 1 963 Fender Stratocaster and a reissue gold-top Gibson Les Paul. He runs them through a Hotcake distortion pedal and Yamaha SPX90, then splits the signal into a Roland JC 160 and Vox AC30)
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Apter 2010, p. 8.
  6. ^ a b Apter 2010, pp. 9-10.
  7. ^ Apter 2010, p. 9.
  8. ^ Apter 2010, p. 16.
  9. ^ Apter 2010, p. 19.
  10. ^ Apter 2010, p. 22.
  11. ^ Apter 2010, p. 25.
  12. ^ Apter 2010, p. 27.
  13. ^ Apter 2010, p. 41.
  14. ^ Apter 2010, p. 49.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53334. p. 38. 11 June 1993.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b c
  19. ^ a b
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ a b
  28. ^ a b
  29. ^ a b
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^



External links

  • Official website
  • AudioCulture profile
  • Audio interview with Neil Finn on the Sodajerker On Songwriting podcast
  • Neil Finn: Songwriter
  • Interview with Neil Finn : The Pajama Club
  • Trouser Press commentary on Crowded House, Neil Finn and Tim Finn discography
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