Dave Matthews is the front man, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the popular group The Dave Matthews Band.
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 live 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.
Formed in 1990 by South African self-taught vocalist/guitarist Dave Matthews, the Dave Matthews Band presented a more pop-oriented version of the Grateful Dead crossed with elements of jazz, funk, and the worldbeat explorations of Paul Simon and Sting. Matthews decided to assemble a band and put together a demo tape with several Virginia-based musicians — bassist Stefan Lessard, saxophonist Leroi Moore, violinist Boyd Tinsley, drummer Carter Beauford, and short-lived keyboardist Peter Griesar — and the band built up a strong word-of-mouth buzz by touring the country constantly, with special attention paid to college campuses and grassroots marketing. Griesar left the lineup in March 1993, but the Dave Matthews Band moved ahead in his absence, releasing the independent album Remember Two Things later that year and issuing a live EP, Recently, in 1994. 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.
After fielding offers from major labels, the band signed with RCA and released the debut effort Under the Table and Dreaming in September 1994 which went to No. 11 in the Billboard 200 . By the following spring, the record had launched the hit single “What Would You Say” and sold over one million copies, thus setting the stage for an extremely successful career. A year and a half after the release of Under the Table and Dreaming, the record had sold over four million copies in the U.S. alone, propelled in part by the success of “Ants Marching” and “Satellite.” The Dave Matthews Band responded by releasing 1996’s Crash, which entered the charts at number two and quickly went platinum. The group spent the bulk of 1996 touring in support of the eclectic album, which reached multi-platinum status and spun off five successful singles, including the Grammy-nominated “Crash into Me.” That same year, Matthews launched an attack on bootleggers in conjunction with the federal government, targeting stores that were selling semi-legal discs of live performances. The efforts of Matthews, his band, and his management resulted in an unprecedented crackdown on for-profit bootleggers in early 1997 — with nearly all of the major foreign bootlegging companies placed under arrest by the United States — thereby putting a moratorium on the entire underground industry. 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.
The live record paved the way for a string of future DMB concert recordings; it also drummed up support for the April 1998 release of Before These Crowded Streets, the group’s most ambitious album to date. The new millennium, however, saw the band returning to the studio with producer Glen Ballard to record a fourth studio album, Everyday, which was issued in February 2001. Although notable for its slick, mainstream-minded sound — not to mention the presence of electric guitar, which Matthews had never used on previous albums — it was overshadowed by rumors of a darker album that had been recorded with Steve Lillywhite in 2000. Although the original album was rejected, the band eventually chose songs from those sessions, re-recorded several others, and released the results in July 2002 as Busted Stuff. Its debut single, “Where Are You Going,” fared well on national radio, and the band rounded out 2002 with the release of Live at Folsom Field in November.
Several years after releasing Live at Luther College, a concert album that did not feature his band, Dave Matthews released his first proper solo album in 2003. The moody and brooding Some Devil was supported by a “Dave Matthews & Friends” tour — the “friends” being Trey Anastasio, Brady Blade, Tony Hall, Ray Paczkowski, and Tim Reynolds — and the album’s chief single, “Gravedigger,” earned Matthews a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. Boyd Tinsley also released a solo album that year, but the Dave Matthews Band reconvened shortly thereafter, releasing two additional live albums (The Central Park Concert & The Gorge) and returning to the road in 2004. The band mates also joined Bruce Springsteen‘s Vote for Change tour toward the end of the year, just as their mail-order-only DMB Live Trax series debuted. In early 2005, they launched a website that featured progress reports on their next album in the form of video footage, diaries, and sound bites. When the flawed Stand Up finally appeared in May, it was the band’s first album of all-new material since 2001’s Everyday. Like its three predecessors, Stand Up topped the charts, making DMB the only band other than U2 and Metallica to score four consecutive number one albums.
Weekend on the Rocks, another live set, followed Stand Up at the end of 2005, and a two-disc compilation entitled The Best of What’s Around, Vol. 1 collected studio material and unreleased live recordings one year later. Matthews and Tim Reynolds launched another joint tour in 2007, canvassing Europe and North America in the process. A performance from the latter continent was featured on the album Live at Radio City Music Hall, which served as a companion piece to 1999’s Luther College.
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.
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.