Dave Dobbyn

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Dave Dobbyn
Birth nameDavid Joseph Dobbyn
Also known asDave Dobbyn
Born (1957-01-03) 3 January 1957 (age 62)
GenresPop, rock
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano, bass
Years active1979–present
Sony BMG
Associated actsTh' Dudes
DD Smash

David Joseph Dobbyn ONZM (born 3 January 1957) is a New Zealand musician, singer–songwriter and record producer. In his early career he was a member of the rock group Th' Dudes and was the main creative force in pop band DD Smash. Since then he has released the majority of his recordings as a solo performer.

Early life[edit]

Dave Dobbyn was born in 1957 in the working class area of Glen Innes, Auckland, the third of five children to tour-bus driver Terry Dobbyn and Molly,[1][2] he was influenced by music from a young age, ranging from the Irish songs his father listened to, to the music of the church across the road, to the various radio stations he was able to pick up on the family radiogram.[3] While his family had a piano at home, he was the only member to not receive piano lessons, something he was grateful for in retrospect as it meant he was able to come to it without memories of strict lessons.[4] He, along with his three brothers, attended the local Catholic college Sacred Heart College,[1] where he would meet Ian Morris and Peter Urlich. While Sacred Heart actively encouraged music, Dobbyn was too shy to be involved, and on graduating high school worked nine months as a bank teller, and applied to teachers' college twice, to be accepted on the second try; as he started teachers' college he was asked by Morris and Urlich to join the band that would become Th' Dudes.[1]

Musical career[edit]

Th' Dudes (1975–80)[edit]

Dobbyn's first success came with rock band, Th' Dudes, which he joined as guitarist. After performing with the band for a year, Dobbyn quit teachers' college to focus on the band full-time.[1] Dobbyn suffered extreme stage fright and played early performances standing at the back with his eyes closed.[4] However, he took on the role of frontman for the song "Be Mine Tonight" (1978); the song won single of the year in 1979 in New Zealand and led to many critics seeing him as the breakout star of the band.[5] The band's 1980 song "Bliss" (1980) has become an iconic New Zealand drinking song.

DD Smash (1980–86)[edit]

After Th' Dudes disbanded in 1980, Dobbyn formed pop group DD Smash; the band's first release was the single "Lipstick Power", followed by "Bull by the Horns" (1981), thought to be about Dobbyn overcoming the stage fright he sometimes experienced while performing with Th' Dudes. Their first album Cool Bananas (1982) debuted in the New Zealand charts at number one.

After Treavaun, DD smash released Deep in the Heart of Taxes (1983), an album recorded live at Auckland's popular eighties venue Mainstreet, their final album, The Optimist (1984), although slicker sounding production-wise than its predecessor, showed signs of compromise with the dominant commercial, Blue-eyed soul inflected, synthpop sound of the post-new wave era of British and Australian music which was flooding the New Zealand charts at the time. Dobbyn apparently had his eye on the larger Australian market and it was not long before he had a number one solo hit there.[citation needed]

In December 1984, DD Smash were playing an outdoor concert in Aotea Square in Auckland. During their set a power failure led sections of the crowd to become restless; some of the crowd started throwing beer bottles and police arrested them. The situation escalated and the riot squad was called in. Dobbyn made negative remarks about the police which allegedly spurred on the crowd; the concert was stopped by the police and sections of the crowd rioted, smashing shop windows along Queen Street. Prime Minister David Lange called a commission of inquiry and as a result Dobbyn was charged with inciting a riot; the criminal prosecution against Dobbyn began June 1985. His lawyer successfully defended him and he was acquitted on the charge of "behaving in a manner likely to cause violence against person or property and using insulting language".[6]

When DD Smash eventually disbanded, partially to make room for the commercially expanding vision of Dobbyn, they left behind them the hit singles "Outlook for Thursday" (1983) and the violin-tinged, perennial classic "Whaling" (1984).

Solo career (1986–present)[edit]

When DD Smash folded, Dobbyn began a successful solo career, by writing the soundtrack music for the animated feature film Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale in 1986; the film yielded two hit singles: "You Oughta Be In Love" (1986) and the chart-topping "Slice of Heaven" (1986) recorded with the band Herbs. After the release of the film, "Slice of Heaven" became one of Dobbyn's best-known songs, frequently used in tourism advertisements aired on Australian television that encouraged people to visit New Zealand. With the success of the song in Australia, Dobbyn settled in Australia.

In April 1987, a re-worked version of Dobbyn's song "Slice of Heaven" featured in a number of television commercials in Australia. Funded by the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC), the commercials promoted the Devon meat product by substituting the word "Heaven" for "Devon" in the chorus.

Dobbyn released his debut solo album Loyal, a personal celebration of love and loyalty,[7] in 1988, his follow-up was the Mitchell Froom-produced Lament for the Numb (1993), which included members of Elvis Costello's one time backing band. The album was called "un-releasable" by Dobbyn's record label at the time and was shelved for a year until its eventual release.[8] After nearly a decade in Australia, Dobbyn moved back to Auckland in the early 1990s, and made 1994's Twist with fellow New Zealander and recently returned singer-songwriter Neil Finn,[9] whose contribution Dobbyn stated "was crucial to the sound of that record".[8] Twist is also notable for its inclusion of the Maori singer Emma Paki, who was popular in the country at the time of the album's release.

In 1995 Dobbyn became one of the first musical performers in the world to simulcast a performance on the Internet.[10][11] However, it was hindered by technical problems.

Dobbyn took on the role of producer in fourth solo album, The Islander; the album received widespread popular and critical acclaim, reaching number 1 on the New Zealand charts.

In 1999 Dobbyn joined Jan Hellriegel and Toi Iti to co-write "Read About It", the theme song of the Duffy Books in Homes programme[12] which is still performed by 100,000 children annually.

Dobbyn's hit song "Loyal" (1988) from his debut solo album Loyal (1988) was used as an anthem for Team New Zealand's failed 2003 America's Cup defence, he has also produced albums for Australian singer Grant McLennan and contributed to albums by Jenny Morris, Gyan Evans, Wayne Gillespie and Bic Runga. In 2000 Dobbyn toured New Zealand with Runga and Tim Finn; the tour was recorded and the live album, Together in Concert: Live (2000) was released soon after. The tour also included the lead off song "Just Add Water" from his 2000 album Hopetown, a record Dobbyn has since referred to as "a cartoon album".[4]

In 2005, Dobbyn released his sixth solo album; Available Light; the album received popular and critical acclaim. In the same year Dobbyn performed the lead single from Available Light, "Welcome Home" (2005) at the New Zealand Music Awards ceremony. During the performance, Ahmed Zaoui, who was appealing a security certificate issued due to alleged links to terrorist groups, appeared on stage with Dobbyn.[13]

2008 saw Dobbyn release Anotherland. The album entered the NZ Top 40 Album Charts at Number 2[14] and remained in the charts for 6 weeks, eventually attaining Gold status.

In 2009 Dobbyn released a second greatest hits album, including re-recorded versions of "Devil You Know" and "Whaling"; the second CD includes less known songs.[8] A limited edition version also included a DVD tracking his three decades in music, and included interviews with former bandmates and collaborators.

In 2012 Dobbyn was part of the all-star lineup for the Flight of the Conchords charity single Feel Inside; the song debuted at number 1 on the New Zealand music chart and remained there for two weeks.[15]


With Th' Dudes[edit]

With DD Smash[edit]

Solo studio albums[edit]

Year Title Details Peak chart
1986 Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale 5
1988 Loyal 9
1993 Lament for the Numb 13
1994 Twist 8
1998 The Islander 1
2000 Hopetown 9
2005 Available Light
  • Label: Sony BMG
  • Catalogue no: 5202672000
2008 Anotherland
  • Label: Red Trolley Records
  • Catalogue no: RTCD003
2016 Harmony House
  • Label: Red Trolley Records
  • Catalogue no: RTCD004/RTLP004
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Title Details Peak chart
1992 The Dave Dobbyn Collection 4
1999 Overnight Success 15
2009 Beside You: 30 Years of Hits 4
2017 A Slice of Heaven: 40 Years of Hits
  • Released: 7 April 2017
  • Label: Sony Music
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Live albums[edit]

Year Title Details Peak chart
2000 Together in Concert: Live 2
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
1981 "Lipstick Power" Non-album singles
"Bull by the Horns"
1986 "Slice of Heaven" (Dave Dobbyn with Herbs) 1 1 Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale
"You Oughta Be in Love" 2 63
"Sailing Away" (All of Us) 1 Non-album single
1988 "Love You Like I Should" 7 70 Loyal
"Loyal" 19 70
1989 "Space Junk" (Dave Dobbyn and the Lunettes) 32 Non-album singles
1991 "Shaky Isles" 26
1993 "Maybe the Rain" (Dave Dobbyn and the Stone People) 40 Lament for the Numb
"Don't Hold Your Breath"(Dave Dobbyn and the Stone People)
1994 "Language" 4 Twist
1995 "Lap of the Gods" 13
"Naked Flame" 20
1996 "Poor Boy" (ENZSO – lead vocals by Dave Dobbyn) 29 Enzso
1998 "Waiting" The Islander
"Hanging in the Wire"
1999 "Beside You" 28
2000 "Just Add Water" Hopetown
"My Kinda People"
2005 "Welcome Home" 10 Available Light
"Pour the Wine"
2006 "You Got Heart"
2008 "Wild Kisses Like Rain" Anotherland
2012 "Feel Inside (And Stuff Like That)" (Flight of the Conchords) 1 Non-album singles
2014 "This Love" (Dave Dobbyn and the Orpheus Choir of Wellington)
2015 "Team, Ball, Player, Thing"
(#KiwisCureBatten featuring Lorde, Kimbra, Brooke Fraser, et al.)
2017 "Nau Mai Rā (Welcome Home)" [A]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


  1. ^ "Nau Mai Rā (Welcome Home)" did not enter the NZ Top 40 Singles Chart, but peaked at number two on the NZ Heatseekers Singles Chart.[19]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Dobbyn has received numerous musical awards from both the New Zealand Music Awards and the APRA Silver Scroll Awards. In the 2003 New Year Honours, he was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to music.[20]

RIANZ Awards[edit]

The New Zealand Music Awards are awarded annually by the RIANZ in New Zealand; as of 2012, Dobbyn has won 22 awards.

Year Award[21] Work With Result
1979 Single of the Year "Be Mine Tonight" Th' Dudes Won
Top Group Th' Dudes Won
1982 Album of the Year Cool Bananas DD Smash Won
Top Male Vocalist DD Smash Won
Top Group of the Year DD Smash Won
Most Promising Male Vocalist DD Smash Won
1983 Album of the Year Live: Deep in the Heart of Taxes DD Smash Won
Single of the Year "Outlook for Thursday" DD Smash Won
Top Male Vocalist DD Smash Won
Top Group of the Year DD Smash Won
Producer of the Year "Outlook for Thursday" DD Smash Nominated
Most Popular Artist DD Smash Won
1985 International Achievement DD Smash Nominated
1986 Best Song of the Year "Slice of Heaven" solo Won
1987 Album of the Year Footrot Flats solo Nominated
Single of the Year "You Oughta Be in Love" solo Won
Best Male Vocalist solo Won
International Achievement solo Nominated
Best Film Soundtrack Footrot Flats solo Won
Best Producer Footrot Flats solo Won
Best Songwriter "You Oughta Be in Love" solo Nominated
1988 Album of the Year Loyal solo Won
Single of the Year "Love You Like I Should" solo Nominated
Best Male Vocalist solo Won
Best Songwriter "Love You Like I Should" solo Nominated
1995 Album of the Year Twist solo Nominated
Best Male Vocalist Twist solo Won
Best Songwriter 'Language' solo Won
1996 Best Male Vocalist solo Nominated
International Achievement solo Nominated
1999 Top Male Vocalist solo Nominated
Best Songwriter "Beside You" solo Nominated
2000 Top Male Vocalist solo Nominated
Best Film Soundtrack/Cast Recording/Compilation Overnight Success solo Won
2001 Album of the Year Hopetown solo Nominated
Together in Concert: Live Tim Finn, Bic Runga Nominated
Top Male Vocalist solo Nominated
2002 Best Cast Recording/Compilation Where Are the Girls?: Th' Definitive Collection Th' Dudes Nominated
2005 Single of the Year "Welcome Home" solo Nominated
Songwriter of the Year "Welcome Home" solo Won
2006 Album of the Year Available Light solo Nominated
Best Male Solo Artist Available Light solo Won
2009 Best Male Solo Artist solo Nominated

APRA Awards[edit]

As of 2013, Dobbyn has won 4 Silver Scroll Awards: 3 for the Silver Scroll Awards for songwriting, and 1 for the most performed work in New Zealand, he received a Lifetime Achievement award in 2001 at the NZ Music Awards.[22] As of 2013 he is the only musician to win the Silver Scroll award three times (1987, 1993, 1998). In 2013 it was announced that he would become the 13th inductee into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.[23][24]

Year Award[22][25] Work
1987 Silver Scroll "You Oughta Be in Love"
1993 Silver Scroll "Belle of the Ball"
1995 Most Performed Work in New Zealand "Language"
1998 Silver Scroll "Beside You"
2001 Lifetime Achievement Award
2013 New Zealand Music Hall of Fame

In 2001, a vote by members of APRA to find New Zealand's Top 100 songs (what would eventually become the Nature's Best series) included 10 Dobbyn songs; these were:

Lifetime Achievement Award[edit]

In 2001 the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) awarded Dobbyn a rare Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the 2001 New Zealand Music Awards; the award presenter Michael Glading, the managing director of Sony New Zealand, chose to forego a speech and instead read out the titles of the long list of Dobbyn's hit songs.[26][27]

Personal life[edit]

Dobbyn met his wife Anneliesje at a Whangamata Dudes New Years' show and married her in 1983,[1] they have two children.


  1. ^ a b c d e Legat, Nicola (January 1999). "A Portrait of the Artist As A Mature Man". North and South. Archived from the original on October 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  2. ^ "Dave Dobbyn: Biography". Sony Music. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  3. ^ Bourke, Chris. "Overnight Success: Liner Notes". CD Notes. Sony. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Homegrown Profiles: Dave Dobbyn". Documentary. NZ On Screen. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Dave Dobbyn: Bio". Biography. Itunes. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  6. ^ Queen Street riot 1984 (from New Zealand history online, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage)
  7. ^ Bourke, Chris. "Loyal: Notes". Rip It Up Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 April 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  8. ^ a b c Dave Dobbyn Interview 2009
  9. ^ Bollinger, Nick. "Essential New Zealand Albums: The Islander". Radio Show. Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  10. ^ "Internet Live Performance of Dave Dobbyn". Archived from the original on 16 July 1997. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  11. ^ Pamatatau, Richard (March 1996). "Another Slice of Heaven for Dobbyn". Infotech Weekly. Archived from the original on 3 November 1999. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  12. ^ Duffy: Books in Homes
  13. ^ Zaoui sings with Dobbyn Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (from News Talk ZB news story, dated 2006-10-6
  14. ^ NZ Album Chart Archived 25 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ http://nztop40.co.nz/chart/singles?chart=1992
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Gold and platinum New Zealand albums to 2013". Te Ara. Encyclopedia of NZ. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  17. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 21 March 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  18. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 17 April 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  19. ^ "NZ Heatseekers Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 18 September 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  20. ^ "New Year honours list 2003". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2002. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  21. ^ "NZMAs". nzmusicawards.co.nz. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  22. ^ a b "Dave Dobbyn and Loyal". Article. NZHistory.net. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  23. ^ "Dobbyn enters NZ Music Hall of Fame". New Zealand Herald. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  24. ^ "NZ music Hall of Fame welcomes Dave Dobbyn". TVNZ. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  25. ^ "Silver Scroll Award Winners". APRA. Archived from the original on 24 November 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  26. ^ "Dave Dobbyn". Article. NZMusic.net. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  27. ^ "Tui's song the best for years". NZ Herald. Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013.

External links[edit]