Dave Matthews was born in Johannesburg, the capital city of South Africa, in 1967, one of four children. Within two years, the family moved to Westchester County, New York, as a result of his physicist father accepting work with IBM. Young Dave was encouraged by his father to take piano lessons, but Dave then gravitated towards guitar when he was about 9. In the early 70s, the Matthews family moved overseas to Cambridge, returning to New York in 1977, where the elder Matthews died of Hodgkin's disease. By 1980, the family were back in South Africa. Dave went to several schools there, and recalls that he became disillusioned with the evils of the current regime, and government in general.
After graduation, Dave was required to put in his two years of compulsory South African military service, but coming from a devout Quaker family, this was not an option. To get him out of South Africa, his mother approached the University of Virginia, where his father had once worked in the Physics Department. Accepted by the university in 1986, Dave moved to Charlottesville, VA, which is where his parents had lived in the 1960s.
Shifting around between South Africa, and Amsterdam, Dave chose to dip his creative toes into the local music community in Charlottesville. He tried acting for a while, and became a very popular bartender at Miller's. However, somewhat intimidated by the caliber of the local acting talent, he tended to avoid public performances, until a local star and good friend, Tim Reynolds, goaded Dave up on stage one night. The audience enthusiastically greeted his performance, which encouraged Dave to consider playing out on a regular basis. He made his first official public appearance at a modern dance performance, singing "Sensitive Feelings," (a song he didn't write), and then in 1990, came up with the idea of forming his own band. He had initially thought that his songs would present better if sung by someone else, but decided to tackle the vocals himself. He had written a few songs, and formed the Dave Matthews Band in early 1991, while still at Miller's. DMB made their debut at a private party in Charlottesville in 1991.
DMB caught fire from their first album on out - Under The Table and Dreaming, released in 1994, sold 6 million in the US; Crash, released in 1996, sold 7 million; Before These Crowded Streets, released in 1998, sold 3 million; Every Day, released 2001, 3 million; Busted Stuff, 2002, 2 million; Stand Up, 2005, 1 million. The new one, The Best of What's Out There, will be on the streets on October 17, 2006.
By the late 90s, Dave was guesting regularly on Rolling Stones concert appearances. He and manager Coran Capshaw formed ATO records in 2000, and Dave still remains an active executive at the label. In 2003, Dave released a solo album, Some Devil, which went platinum, and the single "Gravedigger" won a Grammy in 2004. In support of Some Devil Dave put together a side project, Dave Matthews and Friends, who play together when DMB is on hiatus.
Since 2001 Dave has also been one of the directors of Farm Aid, along with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp. He and his wife own a 1300-acre farm near Scottsville, VA, where he raises organic vegetables and herbs, and he also owns a small vineyard, Blenheim Vineyards. Although very much an American, Dave still returns to South Africa on a yearly basis.
Apparently having conquered his intimidation by the Charlottesville acting community, Dave also recently appeared in two feature films - Where The Red Fern Grows in 2003, and in 2005 he turned in a very capable performance as Otis, the local guitar-playing pet shop owner, in Because Of Winn-Dixie.