Lifted from a Usenet message by Graham Lee. Paragraph markers were lost in the
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 images.
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
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 travelled 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 release.
On Saturday 30th January Dave was involved in a car accident. He was not badly injured but spent the night in St Vincents
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.