Dave Matthews

Dave Matthews Biography

Songwriter, Singer (1967–)
Dave Matthews is the front man, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the popular grassroots group The Dave Matthews Band.


Dave Matthews was born on January 9, 1967, in Johannesburg, South Africa. A self-taught musician, Matthews decided to assemble a band and put together a demo tape in 1990. Through college tours and grassroots marketing, the band developed a devoted following. In 1994, they released their major label debut, Under The Table And Dreaming, which went to No. 11 in the Billboard 200. The band followed with a string of popular albums, including Everyday (2001) and Stand Up (2005).

Early Life

Musician and actor David John Matthews was born on January 9, 1967, in Johannesburg, South Africa. A self-taught musician, he and his family moved around the world throughout his childhood. When he was 2 years old, they moved to the New York suburb of Yorktown Heights, where Matthews' father, a physicist, worked for IBM. In 1977, Matthews' father died of lung cancer, and the family returned to Johannesburg to be with relatives.

To avoid South Africa's compulsory military service, Matthews moved back to the United States after high school, where he became a bartender at a jazz club in Charlottesville, Virginia, called Miller's. It was there that he began to dream about starting his own band.

The Dave Matthews Band Forms

In 1990, Matthews decided to put together a demo tape and approached his favorite jazz musicians to accompany him: sax player Leroi Moore and drummer Carter Beauford. For bass, he signed on Stefan Lessard, a 16-year-old local prodigy. Violinist Boyd Tinsley was recruited just weeks after the band formed. Early local gigs were an immediate success, and the band quickly developed a devoted following. The band's manager, Coran Capshaw, utilized grassroots marketing to move the band to the national stage. The group was known as The Dave Matthews Band.

Commercial Success

The Dave Matthews Band was soon playing at frat houses and beach clubs around the country. People began to make bootlegs of their shows and word of the band spread quickly among the college crowd. In 1994, the band released its major label debut, Under The Table And Dreaming, which went to No. 11 in the Billboard 200. The band's second album, Crash, was released two years later, debuting at No. 2. Though the album didn't receive as much critical praise, the band's follow-up concert sold out New York's Madison Square Garden in three hours.

In October 1997, the band put out an official double-disc live album entitled Live at Red Rocks. Without any marketing or promotion, it debuted at No. 3, providing a high-quality and reasonably priced alternative to illegal live CDs that were beginning to flood the black market.

A New Sound

After taking some time off in 1997, the Dave Matthews Band went back into the studio to record Before These Crowded Streets (1998), which debuted at No. 1. The next album was repeatedly delayed before the band announced, in 2000, that they would be scrapping it and parting ways with producer Steve Lillywhite. Although Matthews felt that the music sounded tired and the band needed fresh input, it was an amicable break-up.

They hired Glen Ballard, who had worked with Alanis Morissette and Aerosmith, a few months later. Their next album, Everyday (2001), lived up to its promise. The following year, Busted Stuff delivered a smoother, jazzier sound and a similarly successful debut. Their 2005 album, Stand Up, topped the Billboard charts in its first week.

Acting Roles

In an unexpected shift, Matthews began to play his hand at acting in 2003. He made his big-screen debut in the Disney film Where the Red Fern Grows, and then followed with Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), co-starring Jeff Daniels and Eva Marie Saint. He also made appearances in the films I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007), You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008) and Just Go with It (2011), all of which starred Adam Sandler in the lead role.

Personal Life

After an eight-year courtship, Matthews married wife Ashley in August, 2000. Their twin daughters, Stella Busina and Grace Anne, were born one year later. They had a son August Oliver, born in June 2007.

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