Neil Finn

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Neil Finn, OBE
Neil Finn.jpg
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 (age 55)
Te Awamutu, New Zealand
Genres Rock, art rock, New Wave, pop
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, ukulele, mandolin, keyboards, bass guitar, drums
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

Neil Mullane Finn, OBE (born 27 May 1958) is a New Zealand recording artist. Along with his brother Tim Finn, he was the co-frontman for Split Enz and is now frontman for Crowded House. He has also recorded several successful solo albums and assembled diverse musicians for the 7 Worlds Collide projects.

Finn rose to prominence in the late 1970s after replacing singer songwriter Phil Judd in his brother Tim Finn's band Split Enz. With the group, Finn wrote the hits "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.

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."[3]


1958-1978: Early life[edit]

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

Neil Finn was born the youngest of four children to Dick and Mary Finn in Te Awamutu, New Zealand.[4] His mother, a devout Catholic who moved to New Zealand from Ireland at the age of two, maintained a religious influence over the family.[5] 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."[6] His father, the son of a farmer from Waikato, served in the army in Italy and became an accountant during World War II.[5] His parents instilled an "inspiring admiration of music" in young Finn; the family would often engage in sing-alongs around the family piano.[7] In addition to music, Finn also enjoyed sports, particularly swimming, rugby, tennis, and biking.[8]

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."[9] He idolized his brother and wished to imitate his actions, learning to play guitar and piano at the same time Tim did.[10] Tim was more public about his musical aspirations, and won ten shillings in his school's annual talent contest shortly after enrolling.[11] When Tim left to study at Sacred Heart College, a boarding school in Auckland, eight-year-old Neil started playing a guitar that he had left behind.[12] A naturally willing performer, Finn was nicknamed 'The Ant' by his family due to his determined and ambitious nature.[13]

He 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. Neil finished school in 1975.

1977-1984: Split Enz[edit]

A year later he formed a group known as After Hours with Mark Hough, Geoff Chunn and Alan Brown. Not long after the band's debut performance, Neil was invited to London to join Split Enz, the band formed by his elder brother Tim. By 1980, he was sharing lead singer duties. He wrote their first international hit "I Got You" and contributed significantly to all their later albums, even briefly assuming leadership of the band after Tim left in 1984, soon before its breakup.

1985-1996: Crowded House[edit]

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.[14] 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[edit]

Following the breakup of Crowded House, Neil went solo. Later the album Afterglow was released, which contained Crowded House tracks not previously found on any of the band's albums.

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). Additionally, One Nil was released in the US and Canada in a remixed version, with two new tracks, one track deleted, reordered and renamed One All in 2002. Although these albums were well received, Neil and brother Tim have had greater success when they collaborated on two Finn Brothers albums, Finn (1995) and Everyone Is Here (2004).

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.

Finn has contributed solo music to various film and TV soundtracks including Rain, Boston Legal, Boston Public, The Waiting Game, Antz, and Sports Night.

2006-present: Reformation of Crowded House and Pajama Club[edit]

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, Neil joined brother Tim on stage with son Liam Finn at Melbourne's charity Sound Relief concert at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in support of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires.

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.[15] 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."[15] 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.[15] Pajama Club released their self-titled debut album in September 2011.

In 2012, Neil recorded the track "Song of the Lonely Mountain", which was featured in the end credits of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.[16]
In February 2014, Finn released his third solo album titled "Dizzy Heights"[3]


The Dixie Chicks release Taking the Long Way has a song co-written with Finn, entitled "Silent House". 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.[17][18] One of their performances at the Sydney Opera House was recorded for the live album, Goin' Your Way (8 November 2013).[17] It was issued as a 2× CD, which peaked at No. 5 on the ARIA Albums Chart.[19] It was also issued as a DVD, which peaked at No. 1 on the related ARIA Music DVD Chart.[20]

Charity work[edit]

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).[21] The Rock Party released a 12" single "Everything To Live For", which was produced by Joe Wissert, Phil Rigger and Phil Beazley.[21]

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.[citation needed] The event was held at the Roxburgh Hall, Stowe School, Stowe in Buckinghamshire, UK. The benefit was in aid of he UK charity Scope, a charity for people with cerebral palsy.

Personal life[edit]

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.

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[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[16]

Neil Finn's new solo album "Dizzy Heights" was released in Australia and New Zealand on 7 February 2014. His sons and his wife also play on the album.

Neil Finn solo discography[edit]

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
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
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Other contributions[edit]

As performer[edit]

As producer[edit]

As session musician[edit]

  • 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)[27]


APRA Awards[edit]

  • 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[edit]

The New Zealand Music Awards are awarded annually by the RIANZ in New Zealand.

Year Award[28] 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. ^ Christman, Ed. "Publishing Briefs: UMPG signs a Smeethington, Kobalt gets Neil Finn". Billboard. 
  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. ^ a b "Neil Finn Releasing new LP Dizzy Heights". Brooklyn Vegan. 
  4. ^ Apter 2010, p. 8.
  5. ^ a b Apter 2010, pp. 9-10.
  6. ^ Apter 2010, p. 9.
  7. ^ Apter 2010, p. 16.
  8. ^ Apter 2010, p. 19.
  9. ^ Apter 2010, p. 22.
  10. ^ Apter 2010, p. 25.
  11. ^ Apter 2010, p. 27.
  12. ^ Apter 2010, p. 41.
  13. ^ Apter 2010, p. 49.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53334. p. 38. 11 June 1993.
  15. ^ a b c Chick, Stevie (25 August 2011). "No more Crowded House: Neil Finn's new band, Pajama Club". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  16. ^ a b "Neil Finn Reaches Epic Heights on 'Song of the Lonely Mountain' – Song Premiere". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Shedden, Iain (16 November 2013). "Goin' Your Way (Neil Finn and Paul Kelly)". The Australian (News Corp Australia). Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "Neil Finn/Paul Kelly Australian Tour – Latest Dates". Neil Finn Official Website. January 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  19. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Neil Finn & Paul Kelly – Goin' Your Way". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  20. ^ "The ARIA Report:" (PDF) (1238). Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). 18 November 2013. p. 24. Archived from the original on 24 November 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Holmgren, Magnus; Warqvist, Stefan. "The Rock Party". Australian Rock Database. (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 21 September 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "NEIL FINN IN NEW ZEALAND CHARTS". Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  23. ^ a b "NEIL FINN IN AUSTRALIAN CHARTS". Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  24. ^ a b "NEIL FINN". Official Charts Company. The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "NEIL FINN IN NORWEGIAN CHARTS". Norwegian Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "NEIL FINN IN DUTCH CHARTS". Dutch Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  27. ^ Holmgren, Magnus; Warqvist, Stefan. "Neil Finn". Australian Rock Database. (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  28. ^ "Past Winners". Retrieved 30 September 2012. 



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