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Nicholas Edward "Nick" Cave (born 22 September 1957) is an Australian musician, songwriter, author, screenwriter, and occasional film actor.

He is best known for his work as a frontman of the critically acclaimed rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, established in 1984, a group known for its eclectic influences and musical styles. Before that, he had fronted the group The Birthday Party in the early 1980s, a band renowned for its highly dark, challenging lyrics and violent sound influenced by free jazz, blues, and post-punk. In 2006, he formed the garage rock band Grinderman that released its debut the following year. Cave's music is generally characterised by emotional intensity, a wide variety of influences, and lyrical obsessions with "religion, death, love, America, and violence."

Upon Cave's induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame, ARIA Awards committee chairman Ed St John said “Nick Cave has enjoyed - and continues to enjoy – one of the most extraordinary careers in the annals of popular music. He is an Australian artist like Sidney Nolan is an Australian artist – beyond comparison, beyond genre, beyond dispute."

Nick Cave currently lives in Brighton and Hovemarker, England.

Youth and education

Cave was born in the small town of Warracknabealmarker in the state of Victoriamarker, Australia, to Dawn and Colin Cave. He has two brothers: Tim (b. 1952) and Peter (b. 1954), and a sister, Julie (b. 1959). As a child, he lived in Warracknabeal and then Wangarattamarker in rural Victoria, Australia. His father Colin was an English teacher and administrator, with a love of literature, and his mother was a librarian. Raised as an Anglican, Cave sang in the boys choir at Wangaratta Cathedral. However, Cave grew to detest the attitudes of small-town Australia, and he was often in trouble with the local school authorities, so his parents sent him to boarding school at Melbournemarker's Caulfield Grammar Schoolmarker in 1970. Cave joined the school choir under choirmaster Norman Kaye, and also benefited from having a piano in his home. The following year he became a "day boy" when his family moved to Murrumbeenamarker, a suburb of Melbourne. Cave was 19 when his father was killed in a car accident; at the moment he was informed of this, his mother Dawn Cave was bailing him out of a St Kildamarker police station for a charge of burglary. Cave would later recall that his father "died at a point in my life when I was most confused", and "the loss of my father created in my life a vacuum, a space in which my words began to float and collect and find their purpose".

After his secondary schooling, Cave studied painting (Fine Art) at the Caulfield Institute of Technology (now Monash University, Caulfield Campus) in 1976, but dropped out in 1977 to pursue music. He also began using heroin around this time. On March 28, 2008 he received an honorary Doctor of Laws from this university.

Personal life

Cave dated Anita Lane from the late '70s to mid '80s. She had an undeniably strong influence upon Cave and his work, often cited as his "muse." Despite this, Cave and Lane recorded together on only a few occasions. Their most notable collaborations include Lane's 'cameo' verse on Cave's Bob Dylan cover "Death Is Not The End" from the album Murder Ballads, and a cover of the Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin song "Je t`aime/ I love you nor do I". Lane co-wrote the lyrics to the title track for Cave's 1984 LP, From Her to Eternity, as well as the lyrics of the song "Stranger Than Kindness" from Your Funeral, My Trial. Cave, Lydia Lunch and Lane wrote a comic book together, entitled AS-FIX-E-8, in the style of the old "Pussy Galore"/Russ Meyer movies.

After completing his debut novel And the Ass Saw the Angel, Cave left West Berlin shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wallmarker and moved to São Paulomarker, Brazilmarker, where he met Brazilian journalist Viviane Carneiro. The two have a son, Luke (b. 10 May 1991), but never married. Cave's son, Jethro (born in 1991) lives with his mother, Beau Lazenby, in Australia and has a career in modelling.

Cave briefly dated PJ Harvey during the mid 1990s. The love affair and their break-up inspired him to write the album The Boatman's Call.

Cave met his current partner, British model Susie Bick and they married in summer 1999. They have twin sons, Arthur and Earl (born in 2000). Cave and Bick lived for some time on a houseboat near Hove. He now lives with his family in Hove.

Cave performed "Into My Arms" at the televised funeral of Michael Hutchence, but refused to play in front of the cameras. Cave is godfather of Hutchence's only child, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.

In the past, Nick Cave claimed he was Christian. In his recorded lectures on music and songwriting, he has claimed that any true love song is a song for God and has ascribed the mellowing of his music to a shift in focus from the Old to the New Testaments. He does not belong to a particular denomination and has complained about how God has been "hijacked" by politicians. However, in an interview in the Guardian in 2009, he said: "Do I personally believe in a personal God? No".

Music career

Early years and The Birthday Party (1973–84)

In 1973, Cave met Mick Harvey (guitar), Tracy Pew (bass) and Phill Calvert (drums); fellow students at Caulfield Grammar. They founded a band with Cave as singer. Their repertoire consisted of proto-punk cover versions of songs by Lou Reed, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Roxy Music and Alex Harvey, among others. In 1977, after leaving school, they adopted the name The Boys Next Door and began playing predominantly original material. Guitarist and songwriter Rowland S. Howard joined the band in 1978.

From 1977 until their dissolution in 1984 (by which time they were known as The Birthday Party) the band explored various styles. They were a part of Melbourne's post-punk music scene in the late 1970s, playing hundreds of live shows in Australia before changing their name to the Birthday Party in 1980 and moving to London, then West Berlin. Cave's Australian girlfriend and muse Anita Lane accompanied them to London. The band were notorious for their provocative live performances which featured Cave shrieking, bellowing and throwing himself about the stage, backed up by harsh pounding rock music laced with guitar feedback.

After establishing a cult following in Europe and Australia, The Birthday Party disbanded in 1984. Howard and Cave found it difficult to continue working together and both were rather worn down from alcohol and drug use.

Current career with The Bad Seeds (since 1984)

Cave performing in 1986

The band with Cave as their leader and frontman has released fourteen studio albums. Their most recent album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! was released on 8 April 2008.

Critics Stephen Thomas Erlewine and Steve Huey write, "With the Bad Seeds, Cave continued to explore his obsessions with religion, death, love, America, and violence with a bizarre, sometimes self-consciously eclectic hybrid of blues, gospel, rock, and arty post-punk, although in a more subdued fashion than his work with the Birthday Party". Pitchfork Media calls the group one of rock's "most enduring, redoubtable" bands, with an accomplished discography.

Cave and the band curated an edition of the famous All Tomorrow's Parties music festival, the first in Australia, throughout the country in January 2009.

Solo work and Grinderman

In addition to his performances with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Cave has, since the '90s, performed live 'solo' tours with himself on piano/vocals, Warren Ellis on violin/accordion and various others on bass and drums. The current trio are Bad Seeds' Martyn P. Casey, Jim Sclavunos and Ellis (nicknamed the Mini-Seeds). In 2006, this line-up, now including Cave on electric guitar, continued his 'solo' tours performing Bad Seeds material.

In the same year three other Bad Seeds, Mick Harvey, Thomas Wydler and James Johnston, undertook Harvey's first 'solo' tours of Europe and Australia performing material from his own albums. Melbourne double bassist Rosie Westbrook completed the quartet.

An album of new material by Cave's 'solo' quartet, now named Grinderman, was released in March 2007.

Nick Cave 'solo' and Grinderman both played at the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival in April 2007. This was Grinderman's first public performance. Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream accompanied Grinderman on backing vocals and percussion.

Soundtrack involvement

Many of Cave's songs have found their way into movie soundtracks. An early fan was German director Wim Wenders, who lists him, along with Lou Reed and Portishead among his favorites. Two of Cave's songs were featured in his 1987 film Wings of Desire. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds also make a cameo appearance in this film. Two more songs were included in Wenders' 1993 sequel Faraway, So Close!, including the title track. The soundtrack for Wenders' 1991 film Until the End of the World features Cave's "(I'll Love You) Till the End of the World." His most recent production, Palermo Shooting, also contains a Nick Cave song, as does his 2003 documentary The Soul of a Man.

Cave's songs have also appeared in a number of Hollywood blockbusters and major TV shows. For instance, his "There is a Light" appears on the 1995 soundtrack for Batman Forever, and "Red Right Hand" appeared in a number of films and TV shows, including The X-Files, Dumb & Dumber; Scream, its sequels Scream 2 and 3, and Hellboy (performed by Pete Yorn). In Scream 3, the song was given a reworking with Cave writing new lyrics and adding an orchestra to the arrangement of the track. This version appears on The Bad Seeds B-Sides and Rarities album. The song "People Ain't No Good" was featured in the animated movie Shrek 2, as well as in one of the episodes of the television series The L Word. Cave also sang a cover of The Beatles' "Let It Be," for the 2001 film I Am Sam.

Original material written for movie productions includes the song "To Be By Your Side," for the soundtrack of the 2001 French documentary Le Peuple Migrateur (called Winged Migration in the US). Cave composed the soundtrack for the 2005 film The Proposition with fellow Australian and Bad Seed Warren Ellis. Cave and Ellis once again collaborated on the music for the 2007 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Also in 2007, Cave and Ellis wrote the soundtrack for the feature documentary The English Surgeon. The duo will also be providing original music for The Road in 2009 and the soundtrack for the audiobook of Cave's novel The Death of Bunny Munro.

Work with other artists

Nick Cave has also played with Shane MacGowan, in a cover version of Bob Dylan's "Death is Not the End", and Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World". Cave has also performed "What a Wonderful World" live with The Flaming Lips. Cave recorded a cover version of the Pogues song "Rainy Night in Soho", written by MacGowan.
MacGowan also sings a version of "Lucy", released on B-Sides and Rarities. On 3 May 2008, during the Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! tour Shane MacGowan joined Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds on stage to perform "Lucy" at Dublin Castle in Ireland. Pulp's single "Bad Cover Version" includes on its B-side a cover version by Cave of that band's song "Disco 2000". On the Deluxe Edition of Pulp's Different Class another take of this cover can be found.

In 2000, one of Cave's heroes, Johnny Cash, covered Cave's "The Mercy Seat" on the album American III: Solitary Man, seemingly repaying Cave for the compliment he paid by covering Cash's "The Singer" (originally "The Folk Singer") on his Kicking Against the Pricks album. Cave was then invited to be one of many rock and country artists to contribute to the liner notes of the retrospective The Essential Johnny Cash CD, released to coincide with Cash's 70th birthday. Subsequently, Cave cut a duet with Cash on a version of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" for Cash's American IV: The Man Comes Around album (2002). A similar duet, the American folk song "Cindy", was released posthumously on the "Johnny Cash: Unearthed" boxset. Cave's song "Let the Bells Ring" is a posthumous tribute to Cash. Cave has also covered the song "Wanted Man" which is best known as performed by Johnny Cash but is in fact a Bob Dylan composition.

In 2004, Cave gave a hand to Marianne Faithfull on the album, Before the Poison. He co-wrote and produced three songs ("Crazy Love", "There is a Ghost" and "Desperanto"), and the Bad Seeds are featured on all of them. He is also featured on "The Crane Wife" (originally by The Decemberists), on Faithfull's 2008 album, Easy Come, Easy Go.

Cave collaborated with the band Current 93 on their album All the Pretty Little Horses, where he sings the title track, a lullaby.

For his 1996 album Murder Ballads, Cave recorded "Where The Wild Roses Grow" with Kylie Minogue, and "Henry Lee" with P.J. Harvey.

In the 1980s he sang some tracks for the instrumentally based band "Die Haut" from Germany, like "Pleasure is the boss". The drummer of the Bad Seeds, Thomas Wydler, is a member of the group "Die Haut".

Cave as well took part in the "X-Files" compilation CD with some other artists, where he reads parts from the Bible combined with own texts, like "Time Jesum...", he outed himself as a fan of the series some years ago, but since he does not watch much TV, it was one of the only things he watched.

Cave collaborated on the 2003 single "Bring It On", with Chris Bailey, formerly of the seminal Australian punk group, The Saints.

Cave contributed vocals to the song "Sweet Rosyanne", on the 2006 album "Catch That Train!" from Dan Zanes & Friends, a children's music group.

Literary career

Cave released his first book King Ink, in 1988. It is a collection of lyrics and plays, including collaborations with American enfant terrible Lydia Lunch. In 1997, he followed up with King Ink II, containing lyrics, poems, and the transcript of a radio essay he did for the BBC in July 1996, "The Flesh Made Word," discussing in biographical format his relationship with Christianity.
While he was based in West Berlin, Cave started working on what was to become his debut novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989). Significant crossover is evident between the theme in the book and the lyrics Cave wrote in the late stages of the Birthday Party and the early stage of his solo career. "Swampland", from Mutiny, in particular, uses the same linguistic stylings ('mah' for 'my', for instance) and some of the same themes (the narrator being haunted by the memory of a girl called Lucy, being hunted like an animal, approaching death and execution). On 21 January 2008 a special edition of Cave's novel And the Ass Saw the Angel was released. Cave's second novel, The Death of Bunny Munro was published on the 8th of September 2009.

As proof of his interest in scripture, so evident in his lyrics and his prose writing, Cave wrote the foreword to a Canongate publication of the Gospel according to Mark, published in the UK in 1998. The American edition of the same book (published by Grove Press) contains a foreword by the noted American writer Barry Hannah.

Cave and Ellis composed scores for a production by the Icelandic theatre company Vesturport of Woyzeck by Georg Büchner, performed at the Barbican Theatre in the Barbican Arts Centremarker in London in 2005, and a stage adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis at the Lyric Hammersmith in London in 2006.

Acting and screenwriting

Cave has made occasional appearances as an actor, most prominently in the 1989 film Ghosts ... of the Civil Dead, written and directed by John Hillcoat, and in the 1991 film Johnny Suede, with Brad Pitt.

Cave appeared in the 2005 homage to Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, in which he performed "I'm Your Man" solo, and "Suzanne" with Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla. He also appeared in the 2007 film adaptation of Ron Hansen's novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, where he sings a song about Jesse James. Cave and Warren Ellis are credited for the film's soundtrack.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds also featured in Wim Wenders' 1987 film Wings of Desire.

Displaying a keen interest in other aspects of film, Cave wrote the screenplay for The Proposition, a film set in the colonial Australian Outback. Directed by John Hillcoat and filmed in Queensland in 2004, it premiered in October 2005 and has since been released worldwide to critical acclaim. The movie reviewer for British newspaper The Independent called it "peerless," "a star-studded and uncompromisingly violent outlaw film." It even features on a website promoting tourism to the area. The generally ambient soundtrack was recorded by Cave and Warren Ellis.

At the request of friend Russell Crowe, Cave wrote a script for a proposed sequel to Gladiator which was rejected by the studio.

Cave has also lent his voice in narrating an award winning animated film called The Cat Piano. It was Directed by Eddie White and Ari Gibson (of The People’s Republic Of Animation), Produced by Jessica Brentnall and has music by Benjamin Speed.

Cave has also completed the script for a new film titled "The Death of a Ladies Man"





  • The Secret Life of the Love Song - a spoken word lecture by Cave.

Books by Nick Cave

  • King Ink. Los Angeles: 2.13.61, 1988. ISBN 1-880985-08-X.
  • And the Ass Saw the Angel Los Angeles: 2.13.61, 1989. ISBN 1-880985-72-1.
  • King Ink II. Los Angeles: 2.13.61, 1997. ISBN 2-84261-053-9.
  • Introduction to The Pocket Canons Bible Series: Authorised King James Version: The Gospel According to Mark. Edinburgh: Canongate, 1998. ISBN 0-86241-796-1.
  • Complete Lyrics. London: Penguin, 2001. ISBN 0-14-100515-7.
  • The Death of Bunny Munro. 2009

Awards and honours

Further reading

  • Bad Seed: A Biography of Nick Cave, Ian Johnston (1997) ISBN 0316908339
  • The Life and Music of Nick Cave: An Illustrated Biography, Maximilian Dax & Johannes Beck (1999) ISBN 3-931126-27-7
  • Liner notes to the CDs Original Seeds: Songs that inspired Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Kim Beissel (1998 & 2004), Rubber Records
  • Kicking Against the Pricks: An Armchair Guide to Nick Cave, Amy Hanson (2005), ISBN 1-900924-96-X
  • Nick Cave Stories, Janine Barrand (2007)
  • Cultural Seeds: Essays on the Work of Nick Cave, eds. Karen Welberry and Tanya Dalziell (2009) ISBN 978-0-7546-8395-9


  1. Stephen Thomas Erlewine and Steve Huey, Allmusic, ((( Nick Cave > Biograpphy ))), accessed 2009-09-30
  2. Nick Cave to enter ARIA Hall of Fame
  3. Hattenstone, Simon. " Interview with Nick Cave", The Guardian. Retrieved on 10 November 2008.
  4. Maume, Chris. " Nick Cave: Devil's advocate", The Independent. Retrieved on 10 November 2008.
  5. Feelings are a Bourgeois luxury... | | Arts
  6. Nick Cave Online
  7. The Resurrection of Nick Cave: The most talented romantic Christian poet rocker in the world talks to Salon about his new record and his return to songwriting form. Interview in Salon Magazine, November 18, 2004.
  8. Nick Cave on the Death of Bunny Munroe. The Guardian Books Podcast, September 11, 2009.
  9. Stuart Berman, Pitchfork Media, "Album reviews: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: From Her to Eternity / The First Born is Dead / Kicking Against the Pricks / Your Funeral... My Trial, 6 May 2009, accessed 2009-09-30
  10. "Wenders unveils ode to rock'n'roll at Cannes", ABC News . Retrieved on 25 November 2008.
  11. Dave Tacon, " Wim Wenders", Senses of Cinema. Retrieved on 25 November 2008.
  12. " The Blues: The Soul of a Man", PBS. Retrieved on 25 November 2008.
  14. Nick Cave sees debut novel 'And The Ass Saw the Angel' re-released as collectors edition
  16. Jon Pareles, "Shaking Up ‘Woyzeck’ With Earthy Rock and Flying Trapeze", New York Times, 13 October 2008. [1] Access date: 14 October 2008.
  17. Brett McCracken, Film Review of The Proposition, Relevant Magazine. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  18. Will Self, " The Proposition: Bringing the revisionist Western to the Australian outback," The Independent. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  19. " Australian Outback Movies," on Outback Australia Travel Guide. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  20. Dawtrey, Adam, " 10 Screenwriters to Watch: Nick Cave," Variety, 22 June 2006.
  21. The Cat Piano
  26. Row Three » Nick Cave and Warren Ellis to Score The Road – Where Cinema is more than just $100 Million productions

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