After the break up of Split Enz at the end of 1984, one of its major songwriters, Neil Finn, along with latter-day Split Enz drummer Paul Hester, Nick Seymour and Craig Hooper formed a new unit known as the Mullanes. After completing the signing of a recording contract with American label Capitol Records the band, minus Hooper, decamped to Los Angeles to work with producer Mitchell Froom. They also changed their name to Crowded House in homage to their cramped living conditions. The trio's debut album was released in 1986 to little fanfare, but two singles lifted from it became enormously successful giving the band US chart hits with 'Don't Dream It's Over' (number 2) and 'Something So Strong' (number 7) in 1987. The album had one of the longest ascents up the charts ever noted, eventually peaking at number 12. A second album Temple Of Low Men failed to consolidate the band's reputation in the singles chart despite reaching the US Top 40. Nevertheless, the album contained some of Neil Finn's most affecting songs, including a striking meditation on the lure of adultery, 'Into Temptation'. Paul Young gave the band some welcome publicity in the UK by singing 'Don't Dream It's Over' at the Nelson Mandela concert at Wembley Stadium in June 1988.
Neil Finn's reconciliation with brother Tim Finn led to Crowded House strengthening the line-up when he joined in 1990. The Finn brothers, who had previously worked together in Split Enz, subsequently cracked the UK market with the sublime Top 20 hit 'Fall At Your Feet' (1991), and reached the Top 10 with the highly catchy 'Weather With You' (1992). The much acclaimed album Woodface also reached the Top 10 in the UK, although the album fared relatively poorly in the USA. Crowded House's standing in their adopted home town of Melbourne, Australia prompted the Melbourne Museum For Performing Arts to inaugurate a Crowded House exhibition, containing assorted memorabilia.
In November 1991, while Crowded House was enjoying worldwide success, Tim Finn decided to leave the line-up and continue with his solo career. Keyboard player Mark Hart was drafted in to help the band out on stage. Both Finn brothers were awarded the OBE in June 1993 for their contribution to New Zealand music. The fourth Crowded House album Together Alone was released the same year and, despite being an altogether more low-key effort, unveiled a string of new Neil Finn classics, most notably the lush 'Private Universe' and the soaring 'Distant Sun'. Drummer Paul Hester bowed out of the band the following year and was replaced by Peter Jones. Sessions for a projected fifth album fizzled out when Neil Finn rejoined his brother to record an album as Finn. Hester returned to the line-up in 1996 to help record three new songs ('Not The Girl You Think You Are', 'Everything Is Good For You' and 'Instinct') for an excellent compilation package, and the same June the band announced they were bowing out. Crowded House's emotional final performance was at Sydney Opera House on 24 November 1996. Neil Finn moved on to a solo career, releasing his debut album in summer 1998, and later reunited with his brother to record an album as the Finn Brothers. Drummer Hester began a new career in broadcasting and worked with the group Largest Living Things. In a tragic turn of events, he was found hanged in a Melbourne park in March 2005.
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