Dave Matthews
David John "Dave" Matthews
(born January 9, 1967) is a South African singer-songwriter, musician and actor, best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band. He performs mainly with acoustic guitar and favours rhythm rather than solos in his playing. His band Dave Matthews Band sold more tickets than any act from 2000-2010, making him the top selling front man from 2000-2010.

Early LifeEdit

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 in Charlottesville, Virginia, the same year, a town Matthews' family had lived in before he was born. In Charlottesville, he became part of the local music community. Pursuing various interests, Matthews acted in various local productions. Although Matthews had started playing the guitar at the age of 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 brand.

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 Greisar (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 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 Matthew's outlook on life and was referenced in a few of his songs (such as "Shotgun"). On January 19, 1994, he performed with Tim Reynolds at The Wetlands in New York where he dedicated that performance "to her 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, travelled 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").


Dave focused primarily on his work with Dave Matthews Band from 1990 to 2003. Since that period, he has occasionally ventured outside the band in various solo performances and records. Matthews sang on the track "Sing Along" on Blue Man Group's second album The Complex in 2003. Later that year he released a solo album, "Some Devil", which went platinum; its single, "Gravedigger", won a Grammy Award in 2004. To support the album, Matthews toured with a group of musicians (most of whom performed on "Some Devil") under the same Dave Matthews & Friends.

Dave is also a close friend of Bela Fleck. Matthews appears as a guest vocalist on Bela Fleck and the Flecktones' 1998 release Left of Cool and both Fleck and Flectones bassist Victor Wooten have made numerous appearances both live and studio with DMB (e.g. Wooten soloed in the second part of The Maker, and also in #41 on the 1998 live album Live in Chicago). The Flecktones also opened for DMB on several tours. Matthews performed a duet with Emmylou Harris on "My Antonia" on her 2000 album, Red Dirt Girl. They also appeared together on the musical television show CMT Crossroads, where the two performed Matthews' "Gravedigger" and the folk song "Long Black Veil".

Matthews performed a cover of Neil Young's song, "The Needle and the Damage Done" at the 2010 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute honouring Young on January 29, 2010. Matthews also joined The Rolling Stones on their Bridges to Babylon Tour 1997-1998, and sang "Wild Horses", and "Memory Motel" alongside vocalist Mick Jagger after The Dave Matthews Band opened for the Rolling Stones.


Before he was known as a musician, Dave Matthews was an amateur actor, appearing onstage in several productions at Charlottesville's Offstage Theatre and Live Arts theatre in the early 1990s; the role for which he is best remembered is as a used car salesman in Offstage Theatre's "Just Say No," directed by John Quinn, co-starring Kylie Sicher. He played Will Coleman in the 2003 adaptation of the novel Where the Red Fern Grows. In 2005 he played in Because of Winn-Dixie as Otis, a man who works at a pet store and plays guitar. In 2007, Matthews appeared briefly in the movie I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, where he plays a homosexual salesman. In 2008, he appeared in another Adam Sandler movie, You Don't Mess with the Zohan, as a racist redneck character named James. He also had a significant role in Lake City with Sissy Spacek and Troy Garity, in which he portrays the character "Red." He was also in three 2011 movies, The Other Side with Giovanni Ribisi and Jason Lee. In The Woods, starring Debra Winger and Terrence Howard, and the Adam Sandler comedy Just Go With It. He was also in Deuce Bigalow.

In 2007, Matthews guest starred in the FOX drama series House in the episode "Half-Wit". He played a piano-playing musical savant who ended up having half of his brain removed in order to recover from his epilepsy, but at the expense of his musical abilities. Dave had a piano double for the complex pieces, but played the simpler pieces himself. In the Season One episode of "House", "Love Hurts", the song "Some Devil" can be heard playing at the end. In another episode, one of the tracks from Stand Up, "You Might Die Trying" was played ("House M.D", Season Five, "Not Cancer").

The fifth time Matthews appeared as musical guest on Saturday Night Live in November 2009 (which was also the fourth time the Dave Matthews Band appeared on the show), he made an appearance as Ozzy Osbourne in a skit called "The Mellow Show." Bill Hader impersonated Matthews in the same skit. With 5 official guest appearances on SNL, Matthews is officially a member of the "Five-Timers Club".

Matthews was also a cast member and performer in the popular music documentary Before the Music Dies.

Other ActivitiesEdit

In 2011, Matthews collaborated with wine maker Steve Reeder in creating the Dreaming Tree Wines.

In April 2012, Matthews was credited as producer on a major documentary, "Last Call at the Oasis", directed by Jessica Yu. Ref: "ATO Pictures to Distribute Must-See Doc "Last Call at the Oasis"".

Personal LifeEdit

Dave Matthews married longtime partner Jennifer Ashley Harper in 2000. The couple has twin daughters, Stella Busina and Grace Anne, born in 2001, and a son, August Oliver, born in 2007. They reside in Seattle, Washington. In a 2001 interview, Matthews stated that he was agnostic.


Matthews published an Internet video prior to the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, urging viewers to vote without advocating any candidate. He mentioned only Ralph Nader by name, and updated fans about the recording sessions for Everyday. Although his music often explores political and social issues, Matthews refrained from public campaigning for Presidential candidates until 2004. He cast his support strongly with Democratic nominee John Kerry, performing at political events including the Vote for Change tour.

Matthews also supported Barack Obama for President in 2008, both in the primaries and in the general election. On April 6, 2008, he and Tim Reynolds played a concert titled "Change Rocks" at Indiana University to encourage students to register to vote. The tickets were distributed by the Obama campaign. Questions regarding his citizenship were answered by advertisements and videos on YouTube, where he says he is a "real American" and a "real Virginian", stating that "real Virginians get out and vote." Even though he was recently bereaved by the loss of band co-founder and saxophonist, LeRoi Moore on August 19, 2008, he and Tim Reynolds played for the Democratic National Convention delegates on Sunday, August 24 at Red Rocks, and again with Reynolds at the Virginia Commonwealth University, on October 26, 2008, among other places Matthews has often supported environmental initiatives, such as biofuel availability and the fight against global climate change.

On September 21, 2009, Matthews stated that some of President Barack Obama's harsher critics were motivated by his race, and stated that he "sees it everywhere" in the United States.

Matthews is also a strong supporter of Gay Rights and participated in "Love United Shepard Fairey Equality Project", a gay marriage advocat project.

On May 10th, 2012, Matthews entertained a sell-out crowd at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington, where President Obama was hosting a campaign fundraiser.

Past and Present EquipmentEdit

Past EquipmentEdit

  • Martin DM3MD Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar serial numbers 1, 2 and 3
  • Martin HD-28V Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar
  • Martin D-35 Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar
  • Martin D12-28 Steel 12-String Acoustic Guitar
  • Taylor 714 Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar
  • Taylor 512 Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar
  • Taylor Custom Baritone Jumbo Guitar (Based on LKSM6)
  • Yamaha Country Jumbo CJ-818SB 6-String Guitar
  • Gibson J-150 6-String Guitar
  • Gibson Chet Atkins SST Solid Body Acoustic Guitar (not used since 2000)
  • Lakewood M-32 Steel 6-String Acoustic Guitar
  • Jerry Jones Baritone Electric Guitar
  • Santa Cruz Bob Brozman Baritone
  • Fender Hot Rod Deluxe
  • Shure UHE Antenna Distro
  • UltraSound/BSS Audio Soundweb Custom Switcher
  • Korg DTR-1 Digital Tuner
  • Taylor GS8 (three songs on radio city album)

Present EquipmentEdit

  • Rockbridge SJ Sunburst Acoustic Guitar (used in 2011) (Spring/Summer 2009 DMB Tour & Summer/Fall 2010 DMB Tour)
  • Taylor 914c 6-String Acoustic Guitar w/Venetian Cutaway (standard guitar used for all songs not listed below)
  • Taylor 914 6-String Acoustic Guitar w/Florentine Cutaway (Drop D Tuning) (Don't Drink The Water, Bartender, Crush, Shake Me Like A Monkey, Seven, Break Free)
  • Taylor GA7 (Beach Ball, You Never Know, Sister, Oh, Write A Song)
  • Gibson Custom Sunburst Acoustic (Raised B Tuning, Lying In The Hands of God, Stay or Leave)
  • Taylor W65 12-String (Grey Street, Raven, Bartender, Sweet Up and Down, Kit Kat Jam, JTR, The Last Stop, Big Eyed Fish, Monkey Man)
  • Jerry Jones Original Single-cutaway Baritone (Smooth Rider, Louisiana Bayou, What You Are, So Right, Break Free, Some Devil, Kill the King)
  • Veillette Gryphon (Shotgun, Squirm, Baby Blue, Idea of You, Falling Of The Roof)
  • National ResoLectric (Alligator Pie)
  • Fender custom Stratocaster (Why I Am)
  • Dunlop Tortex .6mm Guitar Picks
  • D'Addario EXP17 Strings (6-String)
  • D'Addario EJ39 Strings (12-String)
  • Matchless DC-30 Amplifier
  • Shure UHF Wireless System


Studio AlbumsEdit

  • Some Devil (2003)
  • Imagine We Were (2005)- as Tribe of Heaven; originally recorded in 1989

Live AlbumsEdit

  • Live at Luther College (1999)- with Tim Reynolds
  • Live at Radio City (2007)- with Tim Reynolds
  • Live in Las Vegas (2010)- with Tim Reynolds


Year Single Album
2003 "Gravedigger" Some Devil
"Save Me"
2004 "Oh"
2007 "Eh Hee"

Live at Radio City

Other Charted SongsEdit

Year Single Album
2008 "I'm Alive" (with Kenny Chesney) Lucky Old Son

Guest SinglesEdit

Year Single Artist Album
2009 "I'm Alive" Kenny Chesney Greatest Hits
  • "I'm Alive" charted as an album cut in 2008 before being released as a single in 2009

Music VideosEdit

Year Video Director
2009 "I'm Alive" (with Kenny Chesney) Shaun Silva/Potsy Ponciroli


  • "Tomorrow Never Knows" (2010), off the Herbie Hancock album "The Imagine Project"
  • "You Should Know Me", "Oh, Bangladesh" & "And He Slayed Her" (2010) off the Liz Phair album Funstyle
  • "Caveman" & "Road" (2009) off the Danny Barnes album "Pizza Box"
  • "Fat Man In The Bathtub" (2008) off the Little Feat album "Little Feat & Friends: Join The Band"
  • "I'm Alive" (2008) off the Kenny Chesney album Lucky Old Sun
  • "Mamma Boulet" (2008) off the Dave Grant album "Bubbalon by Bass"
  • "Tremendous Brunettes" (2007) off the Mike Doughty album Haughty Melodic
  • "Work It Out" (2006) off the Jurassic 5 album Feedback
  • "Sing Along" (2003) off the Blue Man Group album The Complex with music video
  • "Love Is The Only Way" (2006) off the Robert Randolph and the Family Band album Colorblind
  • "Joyful Girl" (2002) off the Soulive album- Next
  • "Iwoya" (2002) off the Angelique Kidjo album Black Ivory Soul
  • "For You" (2002) off the We Were Soldiers soundtrack with Johnny Cash
  • "My Antonia" (2000) off the Emmylou Harris Studio album Red Dirt Girl, where Dave duets with Emmylou on her composition
  • Love of My Life" (1999) & "Rain Down On Me" (2010), off the Santana album Supernatural
  • "Communication" & "Trouble and Strife" (1998), off the Bela Fleck and the Flecktones album Left of Cool
  • "Eleanor" (1994), off the Shannon Worrell album Three Wishes
  • "A Pirate Looks at Forty" (2012) with Jack Johnson and Tim Reynolds, off the live album Jack Johnson and Friends- Best of Kokua Festival
  • "Walk of Shame" (2012) with Jimmy Fallon, off the comedy rock album Blow Your Pants Off
  • "All the Same" (2011) off the Vieux Farka Toure album- The Secret



  • 1997: Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group- "So Much to Say", Dave Matthews Band
  • 2004: Best Male Rock Vocal Performance- "Gravedigger", Dave Matthews

ASCAP Film and Television Music AwardsEdit

  • Most Performed Song from a Motion Picture- "Where Are You Going" (for Mr. Deeds)

Honorary DegreesEdit

  • Dave Matthews was awarded D.M.A. honoris causa by Haverford College on May 15, 2005, see her for his commencement speech.


  • 2002: Orville Gibson Award for Best Acoustic Guitarist
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