21 Oct 2019
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Don McGlashan

Bio

Don McGlashan is one of New Zealand’s best known and highly regarded songwriters.

Don was a member of Philip Dadson’s From Scratch music/performance art group from 1979-86. The group performed worldwide and Don helped record three albums while a member.

In 1980, with guitarist Mark Bell and bassist Tim Mahon, he formed Auckland band Blam Blam Blam. His song Don't Fight It, Marsha, It’s Bigger Than Both of Us was named 'Song of the Year' in the 1982 New Zealand Recording Industry Awards.

He formed The Front Lawn duo and performed in it with actor (now film director) Harry Sinclair from 1985-90; combining songs, dance, theatre and film. They performed in Europe, America, and Australia, including twice at the Edinburgh Festival, winning The Independent Newspaper's Theatre award in 1988, and both years gaining a place in the 'Pick of the Fringe' season at London's Donmar Warehouse.

With Ross Burge, Alan Gregg and David Long, Don formed The Mutton Birds in 1991, and was singer and main songwriter for the ten years the group existed. They released 4 NZ top ten albums, including two platinum, and two top five singles, one of them (The Heater) a No. 1. The group won Best Album, Best Single and Best Group in the 1993 NZ Music Awards. His song Anchor Me won the APRA Silver Scroll, New Zealand’s top songwriting award, in 1994. The group signed to Virgin records UK in 1995, and lived in London for four years, touring all over the world. The Mutton Birds' album, Envy of Angels (1997), made the U.K. Sunday Times ten best records of the year list.

Parallel to his songwriting and performing career, Don has scored 14 feature films and 6 TV serieses, including Jane Campion's feature 'An Angel At My Table'. (1990), and the British Film Institute's '100 Years of New Zealand Cinema', directed by Sam Neill and Judy Rymer (1995).

After returning to New Zealand from London in 1999, McGlashan wrote the music for the TV drama series 'Street Legal' from 2001-2004, for which he won the NZ AFTA Award for best score in 2003; in 2001 he was awarded the Auckland University Literary Fellowship for his song writing. In 2002 he was named one of that year's five New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureates.

In 2006 his score for Toa Fraser’s 'No.2' won Best Original Music in that year’s NZ Film Awards. His song for that movie, Bathe In The River, won Don a second Silver Scroll in 2006, and became one of the country’s biggest singles of all time.

Also in 2006, he released his first solo album, Warm Hand, which reached Gold status in NZ and received wide critical acclaim.

In 2008 he composed the music for both the Toa Fraser film 'Dean Spanley' (starring Peter O’Toole and Sam Neill) and Anthony McCarten’s 'Show of Hands'. He also toured the USA and Europe with Crowded House as the opening act and guest musician within the band.

In 2009 he was part of 'Seven Worlds Collide', a collaboration with musicians including Neil Finn, Johnny Marr and members of Wilco and Radiohead, and he also released his second solo album Marvellous Year with his band The Seven Sisters. That year he also scored the feature film 'Matariki', directed by Michael Bennett.

2010 saw him scoring TVNZ’s flagship drama 'This Is Not My Life', (for which he won another AFTA Award for Best Score), while also touring extensively overseas and in New Zealand, both solo, with The Seven Sisters, and with side project, The Bellbirds.

In 2011, Don scored two feature films: Fiona Samuels’s 'Bliss', - which won him a further AFTA award for best original music - and 'Sione's Two', the sequel to the comedy hit 'Sione's Wedding', directed by Simon Bennett.

In 2012 he was invited to be one of the mentors at the Australian Song Summit, and he lead the re-formed The Mutton Birds on a NZ tour and a show at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London.

In 2012 he was also made one of the year’s five Auckland University Distinguished Alumni, sharing that honour with Dr Ranginui Walker, Dame Robin White, Dr Mark Sagar and Professor Charles Alcock.

In 2013 he featured in 'Songs From The Inside', a Maori TV documentary series in which songwriters went into a prison and helped inmates to write and record their own songs. He also toured Australia, The United Arab Emirates and the UK in a duo show with fellow NZ singer-songwriter Dave Dobbyn.

In February 2014 he was Musical Director of the New Zealand Dance Company’s performances at the Holland Dance Festival, in which he conducted top Dutch band Brassband Rijnmond in three shows in The Hague and one in Amsterdam.

In 2014 he scored the NZ/UK feature 'The Deadlands' - dir. Toa Fraser, and in 2015 he wrote the original music for the Maori TV documentary 'Our Blue Canoe' - dir. Anna Marbrook.

Also in 2015 McGlashan released his third solo album: Lucky Stars, which has been his most successful record since his hits with The Mutton Birds, going top five on the NZ charts, receiving 5 stars in The NZ herald, and 4 1/2 stars in The Sydney Morning Herald.

"The detail in Don’s songs – his lyrics – framed by the strange angels resting on his shoulders, cresting the wave of each song with him, help to shape and place this music as moment, postcard, handwritten letter."
Off The Tracks - NZ, 2016

"A masterclass in song craft... with an inner world all his own."
Australian Rolling Stone, 2016

"Don McGlashan is one of the most complete musicians to grace this planet. Whether it’s singing, songwriting, or blowing on a euphonium, Don always comes at it from his own unique angle. He’s a misfit’s Renaissance Man."
Brian Ritchie, The Violent Femmes, 2017

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  • Auckland

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