1967–1994: Early Life

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Posted on Mon, 01/26/2015 - 3:24pm
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David John Matthews was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, the third of four children of parents John and Valerie Matthews. At two years old, Matthews' family moved 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 in 1985, 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 that same year in Charlottesville, Virginia, a town Matthews' family had lived in before he was born. In Charlottesville, he became part of the local music community, his first known band was a local Speed Metal band called Devastator. They only played a few local shows until breaking up a few months later; reasons have yet to be confirmed. Pursuing various interests, Matthews acted in various local productions. Although Matthews had started playing the guitar at age 9, it was only in Charlottesville that he started performing publicly. From time to time, local star (and future collaborator) Tim Reynolds had Dave join him on stage, and another friend, Ross Hoffman, persuaded Matthews to record some of his own songs. This 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.

Dave had originally envisioned someone else singing his songs but 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 LeRoi Moore, Carter Beauford, Stefan Lessard, Peter Griesar (who left the band in 1993), and Boyd Tinsley while working at Miller's. The band's first show was on March 14, 1991, as part of a benefit for the Middle East Children's Alliance at Trax Nightclub in Charlottesville.

In early 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 and was referenced in a few of his songs. On January 29, 1994, he performed with Tim Reynolds at The Wetlands in New York, where he dedicated that performance "to her [Anne's] 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 (his sister is the namesake of DMB's song, "The Song that Jane Likes").

 

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Dave Matthews - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Matthews http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/