Dragon formed in Auckland in 1972, led by Todd Hunter, who recruited his brother Marc Hunter shortly after. The band gained a profile with an appearance at 1973's Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival; after releasing two progressive rock albums, they shifted to Australia in 1975 and were signed to CBS by ex-pat Peter Dawkins. With songwriter-keyboardist Paul Hewson on board they shifted to a winning pop-rock formula, with Marc Hunter as charismatic lead singer. The hits included 'April Sun in Cuba' and 'Are You Old Enough'. Marc died in 1998 but the band continues to tour, with Kiwi Mark Williams on vocals.
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.
In this animated short from Auckland's Media Design School, a father and son travel through a magical landscape to find a powerful, wish granting dragon who can fix the boy's stammer. But nature conspires against the father, and the dragon's answer to the boy's request adds a nice twist to the tale. Media Design School lecturer James Cunningham wrote the script, and was granted his own wish from local iwi to film The Dragon's Scale in the dramatic landscapes of Tarawera National Park. The film premiered at the Auckland leg of the 2016 NZ International Film Festival.
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.
The Footprints of the Dragon examines immigration from China and Taiwan, through interviews with three families: the Kwoks, already into their fifth generation down under; and two families from Taiwan, who are far more recent arrivals. One woman is forced to return frequently to Taiwan, to earn money for the family. The documentary also examines discrimination against early Chinese migrants in the late 1800s, who were required to pay a 100 pound poll tax. The episode is directed by Listener film critic Helene Wong, herself a third-generation Chinese-New Zealander.
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."
Comedian (and rooster) Oscar Kightley fronts this 2013 beginner’s guide to the Chinese zodiac. His mission: to explore the 12 oriental star signs. As the Kiwi population heads towards one in six being of Asian origin, Kightley surveys a cavalcade of contemporary Kiwi personalities for their views on stargazing, from his Harry co-star Sam Neill to lawyer Mai Chen. This excerpt is a potted history of the oriental zodiac, aided by animation; then it's enter the dragon. Made for TV3’s Inside New Zealand documentary strand it was directed by bro’Town creator Elizabeth Mitchell.
'Dragons and Demons' is a track from Whats' Be Happen? — the first release from the Auckland pioneers of Pacific reggae. The album had a shot of the Bastion Point protest on its cover, however the emphasis in this song — written by original vocalist Tony Fonoti — is more personal than political as it exhorts people to control mental dragons and demons. Fonoti’s devotion to Rastafarianism made him uncomfortable with the band’s growing commercial success, and led to his departure. ‘Dragons and Demons’ received a new lease of life in 2009 when it was featured in Taika Waititi’s film Boy.
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.
This collection rounds up almost every music video for a number one hit by a Kiwi artist; everything from ballads to hip hop to glam rock. Press on the images below to find the hits for each decade — plus try this backgrounder by Michael Higgins, whose high speed history of local hits touches on the sometimes questionable ways past charts were created.