Dave Matthews Biography
Matthews was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, the third of four children born to John and Valerie Matthews. At two years old, Matthews' family immigrated to Yorktown Heights in Westchester County, New York, where his father, a physicist, started working for IBM.
In 1974, the family moved to Cambridge, England, for a year before returning to New York, where his father died from lung cancer in 1977. Biographer Nevin Martell argues that Dave's father's death may be an impetus for his "carpe diem" lyrics. At some point while residing in New York, Matthews attended his first concert when his mother took him to a performance by Pete Seeger. The family moved back to Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1977.
Upon Matthews' graduation from St Stithians College high school, he was faced with conscription into the South African military just as civil disobedience to the practice was becoming widespread. A Quaker (and consequently pacifist), Matthews left South Africa to avoid service.
Matthews moved to New York in 1986 where he worked for IBM for a short time, then joined his mother in Charlottesville, Virginia, the same year, a town Matthews' family had lived in before he was born. It was in Charlottesville that he became part of the local music community. Pursuing various interests, Matthews acted in various local productions. Although Matthews had started playing the guitar at the age of 9, it was only in Charlottesville that he started performing publicly. From time to time local star (and future collaborator) Tim Reynolds had Matthews join him on stage, and another friend, Ross Hoffman, persuaded Matthews to record some of his own songs. This eventually led to his first professional musical gig at a modern dance performance by the Miki Liszt Dance Company, based at McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville, singing "Meaningful Love", composed by John D'earth and Dawn Thompson. In 1991 he hatched the idea to form his own band.
In 1994, Matthews' older sister, Anne, who lived in South Africa, was murdered by her husband, who subsequently committed suicide, on or around January 27 of that year. The event had a drastic effect on Matthews' outlook on life. On January 29, 1994, he performed with Tim Reynolds at The Wetlands in New York where he dedicated that performance "to her memory". Dave Matthews Band's Under the Table and Dreaming, released later that year, was dedicated to her. Anne Matthews was survived by her two children who, upon her death, traveled to America, where Dave and his younger sister Jane took responsibility for their upbringing.
Matthews had originally envisioned someone else singing his songs, but instead decided to use his own vocals. After writing his first few songs, including "I'll Back You Up", "The Song that Jane Likes" and "Recently", he began to consider starting his own band. Matthews formed Dave Matthews Band in early 1991 with Boyd Tinsley, LeRoi Moore, Carter Beauford, Stefan Lessard, and Peter Griesar (who left the band in 1993) while working at Miller's. The band's first show was on April 20, 1991, at the Earth Day Festival in Charlottesville.
Matthews focused primarily on his work with Dave Matthews Band from 1990 to 2003. Since that period, he has occasionally ventured outside the band in various solo performances and records. Matthews sang on the track "Sing Along" on Blue Man Group's second album The Complex in 2003. Later that year he released a solo album, "Some Devil", which went platinum; its single, "Gravedigger", won a Grammy Award in 2004. To support the album, Matthews toured with a group of musicians (most of whom performed on "Some Devil") under the name Dave Matthews & Friends.
Matthews is also a close friend of Béla Fleck. Matthews appears as a guest vocalist on Béla Fleck and the Flecktones' 1998 release Left of Cool and both Fleck and Flecktones bassist Victor Wooten have made numerous appearances both live and studio with DMB (e.g. Wooten soloed in the second part of The Maker, and also in #41 on the 1998 live album Live in Chicago). The Flecktones also opened for DMB on several tours. Matthews performed a duet with Emmylou Harris on "My Antonia" on her 2000 album, Red Dirt Girl. They also appeared together on the musical television show CMT Crossroads, where the two performed Matthews' "Gravedigger" and the folk song "Long Black Veil."
Dave performed a cover of Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done" at the 2010 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute honoring recording artist Neil Young on January 29, 2010.
Before he was known as a musician, Matthews was an amateur actor, appearing onstage in several productions at Charlottesville's Offstage Theatre and Live Arts theater in the early 1990s; the role for which he is best remembered is as a used car salesman in Offstage Theatre's "Just Say No," directed by John Quinn, co-starring Kylie Sicher . Dave Matthews has also acted in four feature films. He played Will Coleman in the 2003 adaptation of the novel Where the Red Fern Grows. In the 2005 film Because of Winn-Dixie (based on the novel of the same name), Matthews portrayed the character of Otis, a timid pet-shop employee. In 2007, Matthews appeared briefly in the movie I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, where he plays a homosexual salesman. In 2008, he appeared in another Adam Sandler movie, You Don't Mess with the Zohan, as a racist character named James. He also had a significant role in Lake City with Sissy Spacek and Troy Garity, in which he portrays the character "Red." He is currently acting in two movies, The Other Side with Lindsay Lohan, Giovanni Ribisi, and Jason Lee. The other movie is In The Woods, starring Debra Winger and Terrence Howard.
In 2007, Matthews guest starred in the Fox drama series House in the episode "Half-Wit." He played a piano-playing musical savant who ended up having half of his brain removed in order to recover from his epilepsy, but at the expense of his musical abilities. Matthews had a piano double for the complex pieces, but played the simpler pieces himself. In the Season One episode of "House" -"Love Hurts"- the song "Some Devil" can be heard playing at the end. In another episode, one of the tracks from Stand Up, "You Might Die Trying" was played ("House M.D", Season Five -"Not Cancer"-) .
The fifth time Matthews appeared as musical guest on Saturday Night Live in November 2009 (which was also the fourth time the Dave Matthews Band appeared on the show), he made an appearance as Ozzy Osbourne in a skit called "The Mellow Show". Interestingly, Bill Hader impersonated Matthews in the same skit.
With 5 official guest appearances on SNL, Matthews is a member of the "Five-Timers Club".