The band was formed by Ian Morris, Peter Urlich, Peter Coleman and Dave Dobbyn, students at Sacred Heart College in Auckland, which was the same school that Neil (Crowded House) and Tim Finn went to. The band name derived from the "Lone Groover" comic strip in the English music paper, NME. The band's sound was heavily influenced by the British scene, especially The Beatles, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones, and later by the Punk and New Wave sounds of Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, The Stranglers and The Clash.
Starting off as a covers band that played surf clubs and private parties, Th' Dudes quickly earned a reputation as an energetic and skilful outfit featuring dual guitar work from Dobbyn and Morris, a tight no-nonsense rhythm section (Peter Coleman on bass, later replaced by Lez White, and drummer Bruce Hambling) and charismatic vocalist Urlich. Slowly the repertoire featured more originals and their status rose to the point where Th' Dudes were acclaimed NZ Group of the Year in 1979 (although it took until 2005 for Dave Dobbyn to actually receive his award). They eventually disbanded in mid 1980.
The mid-1990s saw a resurgence of interest in Th' Dudes in New Zealand as "classic hits" and "classic rock" radio became more prevalent, and the compositional, performance and production qualities of the band's records endured. Their song, "Bliss", attained particular popularity and has since established itself as New Zealand's unofficial national drinking song. The song is also commonly played (and sung) following the dismissal of an opposing batsman at New Zealand national cricket games.
In October 2006 Th' Dudes embarked on a tour of New Zealand as part of Radio Hauraki's 40th anniversary celebrations. The original tour was 11 dates, but quickly expanded to 17 shows due to demand. Due to a dispute with the holders of the band's master tapes, Stebbing Studios Ltd, the band was unable to release any product to support the tour. Instead, they compiled a six-track CD of demo and alternate versions of their biggest hits, culled from the band's own collections. This CD was available only at shows on the tour and was called Pubs, Parks, Theatres, Clubs, Church Halls, Gardens, Lounges & Band Rotundas.
In late 2007 Th' Dudes embarked on the "Summer of Love" tour of popular NZ holiday destinations: Mangawhai (28 December 2007); Mount Maunganui (29 December 2007); Coroglen (30 December 2007); Waihi Beach (New Year's Eve, 31 December 2007); Lake Hawea (2 January 2008), Riwaka (4 January 2008); and New Plymouth (5 January 2008). Chances of the band doing more any shows are said to be "very slim".
Ian Morris died suddenly in Napier on the 7 October 2010. Prior to his death Morris produced records and wrote advertising music.