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.
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.
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."
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.
"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 1992 TV One documentary follows the All Blacks on their first post-apartheid visit to South Africa. The footy tour tomfoolery of producer Ric Salizzo’s earlier All Blacks docos is subbed off for reflections on politics and sport from players — including ex-All Black Ken Gray, who refused to tour the republic in 1970 and joined protesters in 1981. Not all goes to script for a “new South Africa”: the Afrikaans anthem is played before the Ellis Park test, and the All Blacks win. Future South Africa cricket star Herschelle Gibbs is a young coloured player mentored by the ABs.
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.
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.
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.
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.