Legendary New Zealand band Dragon scaled the heights, then found itself making the call to fire its larger than life lead singer Marc Hunter — only to bring him back, then tragically lose him again. Along the way the band conjured up obscenely catchy hits in New Zealand and Australia, before reemerging with Kiwi Mark Williams on vocals. This collection offers documentary material and music videos capturing Dragon's birth, rebirth and “full moon and thunder” glory. Included are interviews, 'April Sun in Cuba’, ‘Are You Old Enough’ and more.
‘Still in Love With You’ dates from 1978's O Zambesi, the album that yielded Dragon ‘Are You Old Enough’, their first (and only) number one hit in Australia. One of a series of hook-laden singles penned by keyboardist Paul Hewson, 'Still in Love' became another live staple for the Auckland prog-rockers turned Aussie pop stars. A straight down the line performance video shot against a white-washed studio, the video works thanks to the star power of lead singer Marc Hunter, who brings to the party all of his swagger, charisma and coiffed hair. The band bring their sunnies.
Dragon have produced some of Australasian pop music's classic anthems ('April Sun in Cuba', 'Are You Old Enough'). This 2015 documentary charts 40 rock'n'roll years: chart success, drugs, fame, failure, family, survival. The first excerpt looks at the band facing early success and tragedy; the second covers the impact of the 1998 death of singer Marc Hunter, especially on his brother Todd. The doco screened in the Prime Rocks slot. "Made with care and quite a lot of love", praised NZ Herald’s Greg Dixon, "by turns, sad and uplifting, which is no mean feat."
After the classic line-up of Sydney-based hitmakers Dragon reformed in 1982, the band found a new lease of life when anthemic single 'Rain' got to number two on the Australian charts (at a time of severe drought). 'Rain' was a departure — written by Todd Hunter and his wife Joanna Piggott, instead of Dragon's songwriter supreme Paul Hewson. The video offers more evidence of a new look, thanks to drummer Terry Chambers (fresh from XTC) and US keyboardist and producer Alan Mansfield. The video is one of three made for 'Rain' — the band rejected a post-apocalyptic version.
This popular C4 series counted down 100 moments in New Zealand music history, scouring the archives en route to number one. Taken from episode three, this musical moment covers the time bands Hello Sailor and Dragon shared digs. Musos Graham Brazier and Todd Hunter, alongside music writer John Dix (Stranded in Paradise), provide the goss on the early 70s 'Ponsonby Rock' scene revolving around Mandrax Mansion — where members of the bands lived, played and partied hard. Brazier quotes lyrics from an unrecorded song about the then working class suburb.
This 1978 single marked the first number one for the Kiwi prog rockers turned Australian pop stars. It danced around the age of consent (the first line of the song gave the impression the narrator may be in jail). Later the song became the theme tune for 2012 Aussie TV show Puberty Blues. A time capsule of 70s Melbourne, the clip opens on singer Marc Hunter aimlessly wandering the city's streets and tramways, before transitioning to a glossier studio performance. Like many of the band's biggest hits, the song was written by Dragon's resident hook-writer, keyboardist Paul Hewson.
For this One Network News story from 16 July 1998, Jo Malcolm reports on ailing Dragon singer Marc Hunter. Suffering from throat cancer, Hunter had been in Korea and Italy seeking alternative treatment with money raised by a benefit concert. On returning to Australia he fell into a coma. The report features a montage of the band’s classic songs, earlier clips of Hunter reacting to the diagnosis and a poignant performance from Hunter at the March benefit concert. The legendary, larger than life frontman died the day after this report went to air.
Dragon's 'April Sun in Cuba' (from 1977 album Running Free) was originally released in Australia, where it charted at number two. New Zealand loved to hear Marc Hunter talking about Cuba and missile love too: in 1978, the song hit number nine. Later the Hunter/Paul Hewson composition made number 10 on the APRA list of Top 100 NZ Songs. This Aussie-made video, complete with footage of missiles, has the band in full big-hair rock star mode: a white-suited Marc Hunter gets in some high kicks while bassist brother Todd maintains his cool from behind his sunnies.
"Once a band has made it here in Godzone, the big question is: where to now?". As presenter Karyn Hay put it back in 1981, there was only one answer — Australia. RWP reporter Simon Morris headed to Sydney to meet Kiwi musos who'd made it (Marc Hunter, on hiatus from Dragon), and those trying (Sharon O’Neill, Dave McArtney, Mi-Sex's Kevin Stanton, Barry Saunders from The Tigers). Hunter muses on Sydney brashness versus NZ introspection, O’Neill shyly promotes 'Maybe' to Molly Meldrum, and expat music producer Peter Dawkins explains what makes a hit.
This 2010 Close Up excerpt sees presenter Mark Sainsbury interview rock band Dragon. After singer Marc Hunter’s death in 1998, the band went on hiatus until nearly a decade later, when Todd Hunter started rehearsing a new line-up, with Mark Williams on vocals. Hunter talks about reforming — "we are here to service the songs" — and he and Williams reflect on their rock’n’roll lives. "It must have been dangerous to be in the band?" asks Sainsbury. It wouldn’t be a Kiwi summer without 'Rain', and the band ends with a TVNZ rooftop rendition of the classic song.
Dragon brothers Marc and Todd Hunter bestride the hills of south east New South Wales in this video for one of their latter hits. The autumnal lyrics are a good fit for a band in its later and more reflective years: Marc is celebratory in one of his last videos with the band. Todd — bass against the bush background — is gleeful, and the cow unperturbed. Written by keyboard player Alan Mansfield and his partner, Kiwi singer Sharon O’Neill, ‘Young Years’ gained added poignancy following Marc Hunter’s death in 1998. O’Neill has dedicated her performances of the song to his memory.
Pop rock anthems like 'Are You Old Enough' made Dragon stars in Australasia in the late 70s, but the band dissolved in 1980. In 1982 they reformed and a reunion tour saw them back in the spotlight. In this excerpt from a Shazam! special on music across the ditch, Phillip Schofield chats with band members Robert Taylor and Paul Hewson about their musical direction ("more keyboards") and the challenges of making it in Australia ("you’ve got to work hard"). A clip from the video for hit single 'Rain', which peaked at number two on the Australian charts, concludes the story.
Open Home was a 90s series looking at New Zealand homes and the people making, designing and living in them. This episode from the third season ranges from deconstructionism to DIY. Builder (and future Dunedin mayor) David Cull checks out a Northland glasshouse designed by Nigel Cook, before visiting the renovated Australian farmhouse and digital recording studio of Dragon band member Todd Hunter. Susan Wood tries translating the architectural theory of deconstructionism with the help of Auckland architects, including Mark Wigley.