Nicholas Edward Cave AO (born 22 September 1957) is an Australian singer, songwriter, poet, lyricist, author, screenwriter, composer and occasional actor. Known for his baritone voice and for fronting the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Cave's music is generally characterised by emotional intensity, a wide variety of influences and lyrical obsessions with death, religion, love and violence.
Born and raised in rural Victoria, Cave studied art in Melbourne before fronting the Birthday Party, one of the city's leading post-punk bands, in the late 1970s. They relocated to London in 1980. Disillusioned by life there, they evolved towards a darker and more challenging sound that helped inspire gothic rock and acquired a reputation as "the most violent live band in the world". Cave became recognised for his confrontational performances, his shock of black hair and pale, emaciated look. The band broke up soon after moving to Berlin in 1982, and Cave formed Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds the year after, later described as one of rock's "most redoubtable, enduring" bands. Much of their early material is set in a mythic American Deep South, drawing on spirituals and Delta blues, while Cave's preoccupation with Old Testament notions of good versus evil culminated in what has been called his signature song, "The Mercy Seat" (1988), and in his debut novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989). Also in 1988, he appeared in Ghosts... of the Civil Dead, an Australian prison film which he co-wrote and scored.
The 1990s saw Cave move between São Paulo and England, and find inspiration in the New Testament. He went on to achieve mainstream success with quieter, piano-driven ballads, notably the Kylie Minogue duet "Where the Wild Roses Grow" (1996), and "Into My Arms" (1997). Turning increasingly to film in the 2000s, Cave wrote the Australian Western The Proposition (2005), also composing its soundtrack with frequent collaborator Warren Ellis. The pair's film score credits include The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), The Road (2009) and Lawless (2012). Their garage rock side project Grinderman has released two albums since 2006. In 2009, he released his second novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, and starred in the semi-fictional "day in the life" film 20,000 Days on Earth (2014). His more recent musical work features ambient and electronic elements, as well as increasingly abstract lyrics, informed in part by grief over his son Arthur's 2015 death, which is explored in the documentary One More Time with Feeling (2016) and the Bad Seeds' 17th and latest album, Ghosteen (2019).
Cave maintains The Red Hand Files, a newsletter he uses to respond to questions from fans. His work is the subject of academic study, and his songs have been covered by a wide range of artists, including Johnny Cash ("The Mercy Seat"), Metallica ("Loverman") and Snoop Dogg ("Red Right Hand"). He was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007, and named an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2017.
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