DD Smash. Napier. Marine Parade, Soundshell. 1984. I was at primary school. I loved DD Smash. Well, I liked them. Well, I knew that one song Outlook for Thursday. But more importantly, my brother liked DD Smash. And mum and dad did too. They didn’t like them enough to pay – so we sat outside on the concrete, with a blanket. Just staring at the tent wall as the cacophony of muffled sound spilled out on to the street. Just us. And one hundred other families that weren’t keen to pay.
At the end of the show, they let us in for free to have a look. My dad lifted me up to see the band – and right as I got a glimpse of the little ginge imp, better know as Dave Dobbyn, a bottle was thrown on the stage. It wasn’t a plastic pump bottle; it wasn’t a coke bottle; nor was it one of those modern plastic stubbies they sell at the cricket. No. This was the 1980s. And this was a 750ml quart of Tui, tossed – half full – straight from the crate, and aimed right at Dobbyn’s curly strawberry-blonde afro. He moved out of range in time and promptly screamed at the audience. The front row was taken up with patched gang members. There was more than one bottle thrown that night.
I remember the DD Smash show not so much as a gig, but as a visceral experience. I was too young to remember how bad the language and the bottle-throwing were at the time; I thought it was cool. And I have based my memories largely around conversations with my parents and my brother after that fact.
But it is one of my earliest musical memories. And they stick with you. I still like Dave Dobbyn to this day. And now, in this day, he is Sir Dave Dobbyn. Arise! In a perfect world I would be paid to write his biography – that would be a dream job. I have asked. Maybe one day it will happen…
Other music that has stayed with me – from the earliest years – would be Split Enz. My mum used to crank up a vinyl copy of the Enz of an Era compilation; from memory, and sorry to dredge up a date here mum, but my brother and I bought that LP for her 28th birthday. I doubt I paid anything towards it because I wasn’t good as a gift giver in my young years and still try hard to make up for it now (well, one time I bought her an orange plastic bangle for $1.50) but I remember hearing that album over and again as a wee child.
Frampton Comes Alive remains an enduring album from my early years. I am powerless when the needle is dropped; against better judgment I will want to listen to that double live album always.
And of course The Beatles permeate my musical world – still.
I am naming artists here that I became aware of before I learned to shave or drive, before I was drinking – and I should point out again I was born and raised in Hawke’s Bay. So that does mean pre-teen.
These are artists that followed me from kindergarten to primary school to intermediate and then on to high school…and they are still with me now.
Right on that cusp of high school the Tour of Duty soundtracks rattled my cage somewhat and I was opened up to the wider world of 1960s and 1970s music. And my parents finally got a CD player – my dad won it in a sales competition. We also scored some free CDs with it: I chose Prince’s Purple Rain, my brother recommended Miles Davis’s Tutu – we had to choose from a list you see (otherwise it might have been Kind of Blue)…and there was The Best of the Blues Brothers – we had loved that movie on its frequent late night TV replays.
Yip, those are the artists that stick out for me: Dave Dobbyn, Split Enz, Peter Frampton, the Beatles, Prince, Miles Davis and the Blues Brothers Band. There were a few more…of course… (including the Rolling Stones, Santana, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Anita O”Day and, oh, about two dozen others…)
Not every early musical experience is a happy one. But I had so many. I feel so lucky.