Heisted from someone
who lifted a Usenet message by Graham Lee.
from Black-eyed Susans Site
David McComb 17/2/62-2/2/99
On Wednesday night Paul Kelly dedicated
his entire show at the Prince of Wales to the memory of David McComb. The bookend songs of the
evening were McComb compositions. Paul also combined with Chris Bailey
at the recent Mushroom Concert of the Century to perform a version of Dave's
"Wide Open Road" to make sure one of his favourite writers was represented.
This indicates the esteem in which Dave was held by his peers.
The youngest of four sons, Dave was born
into a medical family; his father, Harold, is a plastic surgeon and his mother, Athol, a geneticist.
He grew up in Perth and attended Christ Church Grammer School. A gifted
student, Dave consistently won prizes throughout high school in English
Literature and Divinity. Whilst still in high school he formed his first
band, Dalsy, with Alsy MacDonald. Ambitious from the start, Dalsy was a
multimedia project that saw the boys producing music, books and photographic
His early musical influences reveal an
adventurous and discerning taste- the Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Leonard
Cohen- McComb was naturally drawn to the wordsmiths though his eclectic
tastes would soon see him developing an interest in early electronica,
country music, girl groups and hip hop. His early songs demonstrated a
keen melodic ear combined with a witty,
often sardonic approach to lyrics. By the end of his high school years, Dalsy had become the Triffids.
Dave continued his education at Curtin
University, studying journalism and literature while still developing his
musical craft. The Triffids first single, "Stand Up", was released in 1980,
the result of winning a band demo competition. The lyrics of the chorus
exemplify a tone that Dave would pursue throughout his work. "...Stand
up for your rights Grab your baby and hold her tight If she don't love you well it's
OK We're all gonna die anyway..."
After graduating in 1981 Dave moved to
Melbourne before eventually settling in Sydney with the Triffids. There
they recorded their debut album "Treeless Plain" bringing the band to national
attention. Now a full time concern the Triffids released numerous records
before relocating to London and making the landmark album "Born Sandy Devotional"
which spawned the quintessential single "Wide
Open Road". They had finally made it on Countdown. Like so many artists before them it was
as if McComb and the Triffids could only see the Australian experience
clearly from afar. The album's descriptions
of open spaces and beaches suggest an environment filled with light and
optimism but also a wilderness vast enough to get lost in. Dave had succeeded
in introducing a new vocabulary to Australian music. Wide Open Road?
A metaphor for the journey within.
The albums "In The Pines", "Calenture"
and "The Black Swan" followed as the Triffids continued to expand their following abroad, returning
to Australia each summer to tour. A sensation in Scandinavia, playing to
70,000 people at festivals in Belgium, being involved in a huge rock riot
in Athens, selling out the Town and Country in London and appearing twice
on the front cover of prestigious rock journal the New Musical Express-
these things were all very well but
commercial success still eluded the band and in 1989 they took an extended
break which turned out to be terminal. After completing one of their last annual summer tours McComb co-founded
The Blackeyed Susans and recorded and performed with them over subsequent
years whilst pursuing a solo career.
In 1994 Dave's long awaited solo album
"Love Of Will" was released as evidence of his unwaning potency. A band was assembled, The Red
Ponies, to tour Europe. A fabulous time was had by all and Dave was heartened
to see that his fans, in such old stomping grounds as Belgium and Sweden,
had not forgotten him. On his return Dave traveled to New York on a songwriting
expedition. He was taken ill and immediately flew home where he was admitted
to a cardiac ward. The prognosis was not good
and he was put on the heart transplant waiting list. In early 1995 a donor
was found and a successful operation performed.
Dave commenced studies at Melbourne University
and formed a new band, costar, (named after one of his dogs) to perform
his ever accumulating collection of great songs. Although his health made
performing difficult, costar played sporadically around Melbourne, audiences
impressed with the quality of the songs and the undeniable stage presence
of the band leader. Recordings had begun and a single was ready for a limited
On Saturday 30th January Dave was involved
in a car accident. He was not badly injured but spent the night in St Vincent's
Hospital. He was released on Sunday and went home to recuperate. On Tuesday
at about 6pm he died suddenly. Everyone who knew Dave either personally
or through his music will always remember him. He is sadly missed.