Arriving in Australia from New Zealand in 1975, Dragon adopted a hard image that was somewhat at odds with their genius for creating classic Top 40 pop with memorable hooks and riffs.
They were noted for never smiling in publicity photos, staring icily into the camera and smoking cigarettes when it was no longer fashionable (which was to cost singer Marc Hunter dearly in the end).
This was no Teenybopper band. On stage, they were ultra loud, almost menacingly. Keyboard player Paul Hewson liked to wear aviator sunglasses on stage and sometimes dyed the flicks of his hair blonde, but these touches of glam were rare. Dragon were hard, hard rockers.
They had quite an impact on the Australian singles charts throughout the 70’s, with tracks such as This Time (1976), Get That Jive (1977), Sunshine (1977), April Sun In Cuba (1977), Are You Old Enough? (1978) and Still In Love With You (1978).
But the band’s self-destructive streak ended their one big chance to make it overseas. It all went wrong at a make-or-break gig at a place called the Armadillo Room in Dallas, Texas, in front of a crowd of American record executives.
Frontman Marc Hunter (pictured below left) took it upon himself to announce to the audience that he had heard oral sex was illegal in their state and declared the Texans “wankers”. As the audience pelted the band with bottles, Hunter further antagonised the audience by striking a crucifixion pose . . .
Upon returning to Sydney, Marc was sacked from Dragon in February 1979 due to drug problems that were seriously affecting both his vocal performances and his health.
Singer Billy Rogers and violinist Richard Lee were recruited and Dragon recorded the commercially unsuccessful Power Play LP before breaking up in December 1979.
Marc Hunter cleaned up in the post-Dragon years and released two successful solo singles, Island Nights (1979) and Big City Talk (1981).
The band reunited in August 1982, ostensibly to pay off outstanding debts, with Terry Chambers (ex-XTC) joining the line-up on drums.
The single Rain (1983) was a surprise hit, going to #2 on the Australian chart and prompting Dragon to stay together as an ongoing venture. Their 1984 album Body and the Beat became one of the biggest-selling albums in Australia and New Zealand, producing two further hit singles, Magic (1984) and Cry (1984).
Keyboardist Paul Hewson died of a drug overdose in New Zealand on 9 January 1985.
Further line-up changes took place before the release of the Todd Rundgren-produced album, Dreams of Ordinary Men (1986), which spawned the Top 20 singles, Speak No Evil (1985) and Dreams Of Ordinary Men (1986).
The album Bondi Road (1989) yielded three domestic hit singles, the biggest of which was Young Years.
Todd Hunter left the band in 1995. Marc Hunter was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1997 and died on 17 July 1998 at David Berry Hospital on the South Coast of NSW, Australia. He was just 45.
In recent years, Todd Hunter took a touring version of the band on the road in Australia.