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Don McGlashan was born in Auckland, New Zealand. Along with Wayne Laird and Geoff Chapple, 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. From 1980 to 1982 he was drummer and singer with Auckland band Blam Blam Blam, which had a string of top 20 singles and an album “Luxury Length”, which went to No. 4 nationally. His song “Don’t Fight it, Marsha, It’s Bigger Than Both Of Us” won Song of the Year in the 1982 NZ Recording Industry Awards.
After a year living in New York – and touring the world – as a drummer with avant-garde dance company Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians, he returned to New Zealand and founded “The Front Lawn” with Harry Sinclair. An acoustic group that combined theatre and songs, they toured all over Australasia, Europe and America from 1985-90, picking up many awards and rave reviews, including the UK Independent Newspaper Award for a show at the Edinburgh Festival, and being called “a superb duo” by New York Times music critic Jon Pareles. Their 1987 record “Songs From The Front Lawn” won three New Zealand Music Awards.
From 1991 to 2002 he was singer and main songwriter in “The Mutton Birds”, releasing 4 NZ top ten albums (two platinum) and two top five singles, including one No. 1 single “The Heater”. His song “Anchor Me” won the A.P.R.A Silver Scroll (NZ’s top songwriting award) in 1994. In 1995 the Mutton Birds signed to Virgin Records UK, and lived in London until 1999, touring all over the world. Two of the band’s UK-released albums received 4-star reviews in Q magazine, and one, “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 over a dozen feature films and 5 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, 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, and he was based at the English Department during that year, writing many of the songs that would appear on his first solo album. 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 Hollie Smith’s version 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), while also touring extensively overseas and in New Zealand, both solo, with THE SEVEN SISTERS, and with side project, THE BELL BIRDS.
In 2011, Don scored two feature films: Fiona Samuels’s BLISS, – winning a further AFTA award – and SIONE’S TWO, the sequel to the comedy hit SIONE’S WEDDING, directed by Simon Bennett.
In 2012 he lead the re-formed 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 go into a prison and help 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 – and help devise – the New Zealand Dance Company’s show ROTUNDA. He performed with that show at the Holland Dance Festival, conducting top Dutch band BRASSBAND RIJNMOND in three shows in The Hague and one in Amsterdam.
That year he also scored the NZ/UK feature THE DEADLANDS – dir Toa Fraser. In 2015 he’s been scoring the up-coming Maori TV documentary OUR BLUE CANOE – dir Anna Marbrook, and looking forward to the release of his third solo album LUCKY STARS in April.