Happy 70th birthday to one of the drumming world’s anonymous greats – Malcolm Green. Green is mostly remembered for his time with Split Enz, but has done quite a bit more although, unfortunately for him, seems like he’s always been “one step ahead” (to borrow from one of the bigger hits he worked on) or perhaps behind in hitting it big.
Green’s British, but his most successful period was spent Down Under, in Australia. He began drumming professionally at age 16, and was in several British bands that did OK, but seemingly just after they’d peaked. Notably, The Honeycombs and The Love Affair, who had a #1 song there with “Everlasting Love” (later an American hit for Carl Carlton). It’s unclear when he was with them, but his name isn’t on the credits for that single.
Split Enz seemed to go through drummers something short of Spinal Tap’s rate but more frequently than most groups, and when they went looking again in 1976, the Finn brothers knew of Green and invited him. He moved to Australia and took the job and was the guy behind the kit for their growth years, in which they went from small-time Aussie successes to international stars. Particularly the 1980 True Colours album, with the single “I Got You.” The album was their first top 50 hit in the States and the UK, their first top 10 in Canada and their first chart-topper at home, both in Australia and New Zealand. He was given co-writing credits on one song on it, the instrumental “The Choral Sea”, but wanted more input. But Tim Finn had a problem with that, so after one more album (’81’s Waiata), he was fired unceremoniously.
After a seemingly half-hearted attempt to go solo, he bought a new house in a beautiful neighborhood of Sydney and built a studio in it – Green Sounds Music. It’s unusual in that it’s said to be entirely “wired to optimize utilizing different acoustic spaces”. Basically, you could play and record in any room! He then concentrated on producing artists in his home, though he did rejoin Split Enz briefly, for their 2005 induction into the Australian Music Hall of Fame and a few concerts the next year.
Green keeps a low profile these days. He seemingly is a spokesman for Roland drums, but he sold his studio to return to Britain in 2014.
So cheers to Malcolm. Not a Ringo Starr or Dave Grohl, but one of the many minor names that collectively are what keeps much of our music alive and kicking.