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Split Enz

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Split Enz
Split Enz at Rod Laver Arena, June 2006
Split Enz at Rod Laver Arena, June 2006
Background information
OriginAuckland, New Zealand
DiscographySplit Enz discography
Years active1972–1984, 1986, 1992-1993, 1999, 2002, 2005-2006, 2008-2009
LabelsMushroom, Chrysalis, A&M
Past membersSee Members
Split Enz at the Nambassa festival, New Zealand, January 1979
True Colours Tour, Commodore Ballroom

Split Enz were a New Zealand band formed in 1972. Regarded as the first New Zealand band to gain significant recognition outside of Australasia,[2] they were initially noted for their progressive/art rock sound, flamboyant visual style and theatrical performances. The band later moved toward a pop/new wave sound that yielded the breakthrough hit single "I Got You" (1980). Split Enz broke up in 1984. Since that time, the band has staged several brief reunions.


Tim Finn/Phil Judd era (1972–1977)[edit]

Originally named Split Ends, presumably referencing split ends of hairs, the band were formed by songwriters Tim Finn (vocals) and Phil Judd (guitar/vocals). The original line-up was completed by Mike Chunn (bass), Miles Golding (violin) and Mike Howard (flute), with the band making their first live appearance on 10 December 1972, at the Wynyard Tavern in Auckland, New Zealand. At the beginning of 1973, they were joined by drummer Div Vercoe, though within a few months, Vercoe, Golding and Howard had all departed, with Finn, Judd and Chunn recruiting Wally Wilkinson on guitar and Chunn's brother Geoff on drums. Keyboardist Eddie Rayner and saxophonist Rob Gillies were also added in early 1974, around which time the band altered their name to Split Enz, with the "nz" in the name referring to New Zealand.

During 1973 and 1974, the group recorded three singles, "For You", "The Sweet Talking Spoon Song" and "No Bother to Me" (the latter not being released until 1975). Those singles, and their B-sides, along with several demos from this period, would later be released as The Beginning of the Enz album in 1979. Later in 1974, Rob Gillies and Geoff Chunn left the band, with the latter being replaced by Emlyn Crowther, while Noel Crombie also joined as percussionist and the band's visual director. In the early years of Split Enz, they were known as an "adventurous, flamboyant art-rock band" with unique, theatrical live shows. In 1975, the band moved to Australia and recorded their first album Mental Notes, which reached No. 7 in New Zealand and No. 35 in Australia. Shortly after the album's release, Wilkinson departed and Rob Gillies re-joined.

In 1976, the band moved to England, where they recorded their second album Second Thoughts, produced by Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera.[2] While in the UK, the band toured as support to English folk-rockers Jack the Lad.[3] Crowther left the band in late 1976 and was replaced by Malcolm Green.

Tim Finn/Neil Finn era (1977–1984)[edit]

Phil Judd and Mike Chunn left the band in 1977.[2] Tim Finn's brother, Neil Finn, joined as Judd's replacement on 7 April 1977,[4] while Nigel Griggs replaced Chunn on bass. Over time, as well as being the band's guitarist, Neil Finn became their co-lead singer and a key songwriter, both alongside his brother Tim. Split Enz' third album, Dizrythmia, was recorded at London's AIR Studios with producer, and former Beatles engineer, Geoff Emerick, from June to July 1977.[5] The album was released in August 1977.[2] At the beginning of 1978, Gillies left the band. An attempted reunion with Phil Judd lasted around a month before he departed for the second and final time, after which the remaining members continued as a six-piece.

By mid 1978, Split Enz had no agent, no manager, and no record contract. The New Zealand Arts Council gave the band a grant of $5,000. The grant money was used to book studio time, and the band used that time to record what became known as the "Rootin' Tootin' Luton Tapes". One of the songs the band recorded was called "I See Red".[2] Released as a single later that year, "I See Red" marked a significant move away from the band's early progressive/art rock style, towards high-energy, guitar-based power pop.[6] While "I See Red" did not chart in England, it did bring the band critical attention.[2] The single peaked at No. 15 in New Zealand.[2]

Grant of $5000 NZD for Split Enz from NZ Arts Council

The group went home to New Zealand for Christmas 1978. Just after Christmas, there was a serious setback when their equipment was destroyed in a suspicious fire at a rehearsal studio. Using borrowed equipment, Split Enz played what proved to be a pivotal concert, stunning friends and fans alike with a legendary performance at the second Nambassa Festival in January 1979.[7] The band released their fourth album Frenzy in 1979.

Split Enz in 1980

True Colours, released in 1980, further marked the band's shift to a "power pop" style. The hit single "I Got You" reached No. 1 in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, No. 12 in the United Kingdom, and No. 53 in the United States. True Colours reached No. 1 on the album charts in Australia and New Zealand and made the Top 40 in both the UK and the US.[2]

Split Enz's next album, 1981's Waiata, released as Corroboree in Australia, reached No. 1 in Australia and New Zealand. After the album's completion, Malcolm Green departed, and the band continued as a five-piece, with Noel Crombie moving from percussionist to drummer. The next album, 1982's Time and Tide, reached No. 1 in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. One of the album's songs, "Six Months in a Leaky Boat", was listed as the fifth-best New Zealand song of all time in the 2001 Australasian Performing Right Association, but the song became controversial in England because it was perceived as a criticism of the Falklands War.[2]

After releasing Conflicting Emotions in 1983, the band became a six-piece again with the addition of drummer Paul Hester, while Crombie returned to his previous role of percussionist. In the spring of 1984, Tim Finn left the band for a solo career, following the success of his first solo album Escapade the previous year. Neil Finn assumed the role of band leader and main songwriter, but felt uncomfortable continuing the band without either of its founders Tim Finn or Phil Judd. It was decided their next album See Ya 'Round would be their last. Following the album's release, Tim Finn re-joined for a final farewell tour. Split Enz played their final show on 6 December 1984 at Logan Campbell Centre in Auckland, after which they officially split.[2]

Neil Finn and Paul Hester went on to form a new band called the Mullanes with bassist Nick Seymour. They had changed their name to Crowded House by the time their self-titled first album was released in 1986, going on to achieve worldwide success.[8] Tim Finn also joined Crowded House as a fourth member from 1989 to 1991, during which time the band recorded and released their third album Woodface.


In 1986, two years after Split Enz broke up, they reunited for a Greenpeace benefit concert.[9][10] That was followed by a pair of concerts in Australia in 1989/1990.[11] The first of those performances was scheduled for 28 December 1989 at the Newcastle Worker's Club. However, the club was virtually destroyed that morning by an earthquake.[12] The band instead appeared at a benefit concert in February 1990 which raised funds to support the town's recovery.[13]

The band reunited in 1993 for their twentieth anniversary tour, during which they played at Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland, supported by The Holy Toledos. They appeared on TV in 2002 to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary. In 2006, Split Enz toured with a membership consisting of the classic 1978–1981 line-up of Tim Finn, Neil Finn, Nigel Griggs, Eddie Rayner, Noel Crombie, and Malcolm Green.[citation needed]

Another reunion tour followed in March 2008, with four shows in New Zealand.[14] A one-off reunion performance took place on 14 March 2009, as part of the Sound Relief festival.[15]


In total, Split Enz had ten albums (including seven studio albums) reach the top 10 of the Official New Zealand Music Chart. They have had eight songs listed in the APRA Top 100 New Zealand Songs of All Time, more than any other band.[citation needed]


  • Tim Finn – vocals, acoustic guitar, piano (1972–1984, 1984; plus reunions in 1986, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009)
  • Phil Judd – vocals, guitar, mandolin (1972–1977, 1978)
  • Mike Chunn – bass, backing vocals (1972–1977; plus reunions in 1992 and 2002)
  • Miles Golding – violin (1972–1973)
  • Mike Howard – flute (1972–1973)
  • Div Vercoe – drums (1973)
  • Wally Wilkinson – guitar, backing vocals (1973–1975)
  • Geoff Chunn – drums (1973–1974; plus reunions in 1992 and 2002)
  • Eddie Rayner – keyboards, piano, backing vocals (1974–1984; plus reunions in 1986, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009)
  • Rob Gillies – saxophone (1974, 1975–1978; plus reunions in 1992 and 2002)
  • Emlyn Crowther – drums (1974–1976; plus reunions in 1992 and 2002)
  • Noel Crombie – percussion, drums, backing vocals (1974–1984; plus reunions in 1986, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009)
  • Malcolm Green – drums, backing vocals (1976–1981; plus reunions in 2005 and 2006)
  • Neil Finn – vocals, guitar, mandolin (1977–1984; plus reunions in 1986, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009)
  • Nigel Griggs – bass, backing vocals (1977–1984; plus reunions in 1986, 1989, 1993, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009)
  • Paul Hester – drums, backing vocals (1983–1984; plus reunions in 1986, 1989, 1993 and 1999) (died 2005)


Studio albums

Awards and nominations[edit]

ARIA Music Awards[edit]

The ARIA Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony that recognises excellence, innovation, and achievement across all genres of Australian music. They commenced in 1987. Split Enz were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.[16]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2005 Split Enz ARIA Hall of Fame inductee

TV Week / Countdown Awards[edit]

Countdown was an Australian pop music TV series on national broadcaster ABC-TV from 1974 to 1987, it presented music awards from 1979 to 1987, initially in conjunction with magazine TV Week. The TV Week / Countdown Awards were a combination of popular-voted and peer-voted awards.[17]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1980 True Colours Best Australian Album Nominated
Most Popular Australian Record Nominated
Best Australian Record Cover Design Nominated
"I Got You" Best Single Record Won
themselves Most Outstanding Achievement Nominated
Most Popular Group Nominated
Neil Finn (Split Enz) Best Recorded Song Writer Nominated
1981 themselves Most Popular Group Nominated
Neil Finn (Split Enz) Best Australian Songwriter Nominated
Most Popular Male Performer Nominated
1982 Time and Tide Best Australian Album Won
"Six Months in a Leaky Boat" Best Australian Single Nominated
Themselves Most Popular Group Won
1983 Themselves Most Popular Group Nominated


  1. ^ Henry, Julian. "Crowded House: In With The In-Crowd". Rock's Backpages.(Subscription required.)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Split Enz". nzhistory.govt.nz.
  3. ^ Robertson, Donald (4 December 2014). "Walking Down The Road". Roadrunnertwice. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  4. ^ Woodstra, Chris. "Split Enz". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  5. ^ Rayner, Eddie (1 July 1977). "The Latest From Eddie". Rip It Up. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Music Month flashback: I See Red by Split Enz". The New Zealand Herald. 7 September 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  7. ^ Harrop, Nicky (27 January 2018). "Weekend Rewind: Remember these NZ music festivals?". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  8. ^ Houghton, Cillea (3 February 2023). "Behind the Band Name: Crowded House". American Songwriter.
  9. ^ "Rainbow Warrior music festival". NZHistory. History Group of the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  10. ^ "Rainbow Warrior concert 1986". Frenz Forum. 14 July 2006. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  11. ^ "Split Enz Tours & Concerts". www.concertarchives.org/. Concert Archives. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  12. ^ "30 years on – Commemorating the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake". Geoscience Australia. Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia). 13 August 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  13. ^ "Earthquake relief". www.concertarchives.org/. Concert Archives. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  14. ^ Kara, Scott (29 March 2008). "Split Enz at the Vector Arena". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  15. ^ Doole, Kerry (1 April 2013). "Split Enz – Part Two – The Eighties". Audio Culture. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Winners by Award: Hall of Fame". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Countdown to the Awards" (Portable document format (PDF)). Countdown Magazine. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). March 1987. Retrieved 16 December 2010.


  • Chunn, Mike. Stranger Than Fiction: The Life and Times of Split Enz. GP Publications, 1992. ISBN 1-86956-050-7
  • Chunn, Mike. Stranger Than Fiction: The Life and Times of Split Enz (revised ebook edition). Hurricane Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9922556-3-3
  • Dix, John. Stranded in Paradise: New Zealand Rock and Roll, 1955 to the Modern Era. Penguin Books, 2005. ISBN 0-14-301953-8
  • Green, Peter. Letters to My Frenz. Rocket Pocket Books, 2006. ISBN 0-9579712-3-0
  • Green, Peter, and Goulding, Mark, Wings Off Flies. Rocket Pocket Books, 2002. ISBN 0-9579712-2-2

External links[edit]