Nick Cave

Active - 1987 - 2020  |   Born - Sep 22, 1957 in Warracknabeal, Victoria, Australia  |   Genres - Music, Western, Crime, Film, TV & Radio, Science Fiction

Share on

Biography by Lucia Bozzola

A post-punk, neo-gothic balladeer with an ardent following, Australian musician Nick Cave has also lent his distinctive presence to films as both a composer and performer. Raised in small town Wangaratta, Australia, Cave attended boarding school in Melbourne, where he met future collaborator Mick Harvey and formed a band that became the Birthday Party. After a couple of years in art school and a move to London, Cave and the Birthday Party left their incendiary mark on the second-generation punk scene before disbanding in 1983. Cave then settled in West Berlin following a brief sojourn in Los Angeles, teaming with Harvey and German musician Blixa Bargeld to form Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. As befitting a band named after a passage in the Bible, Cave's songs evolved into intense narratives filled with love, violence, and Biblical portent accompanied by dramatically eclectic, blues-tinged sonic backdrops. Among the Bad Seeds' admirers was German director Wim Wenders, who cast Cave and the band in his Berlin seraphim allegory Wings of Desire (1987). Appearing in the climactic scene, Cave inwardly despaired about having to perform a fan favorite before launching into the thematically fitting "From Her to Eternity." The Bad Seeds also contributed an apocalyptic love song to Wenders' millennial epic Until the End of the World (1991).

Continuing his movie work after Wings of Desire, a screenplay Cave helped pen during his Los Angeles stint was turned into a film by fellow Aussie John Hillcoat. A brutal prison drama based on actual events, Ghosts...of the Civil Dead (1988) featured Cave as one of the inmates, and was nominated for a slew of Australian Film Institute awards, including one for Cave and one for Harvey and Bargeld's haunting score. After kicking an infamous drug habit and moving to Brazil in the late '80s, Cave's creative output flourished into the 1990s, beginning with the sixth Bad Seeds album The Good Son and a German documentary chronicling the band, The Road to God Knows Where, in 1990. Continuing to make acclaimed music with the Bad Seeds throughout the decade, including the creepy Scream (1996) and X-Files (1998) soundtrack tune "Red Right Hand," Cave also contributed to a number of offbeat film projects. Sending up his usual dark attire and goth mien, Cave appeared as the platinum blond, white-clad rocker muse to Brad Pitt's wannabe title character in Tom DiCillo's wry indie Johnny Suede (1991). An apt match of innovators, Cave scored a documentary about American avant-garde cinema icon Jonas Mekas, Jonas in the Desert (1994); his skill with dark ballads elegantly meshed with the subject in the performance-documentary September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill (1995). Along with releasing the Bad Seeds' Murder Ballads in 1996, Cave acted in and composed the score for Rhinoceros Hunting in Budapest (1996), and reunited with Hillcoat to score Hillcoat's To Have & to Hold (1997). Moving back to London in the late '90s, Cave provided the music for the Irvine Welsh-scripted triptych film The Acid House (1998).

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • Formed first band, The Boys Next Door, in 1973 in with schoolmates Mick Harvey and Phill Calvert. In 1978, the band relocated from Australia to London and changed its name to the Birthday Party.
  • After the demise of the Birthday Party in 1983, he went on to form the band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
  • Released his first book, a compilation of poetry, lyrics, plays and writings entitled King Ink, in 1988; released the follow-up, King Ink II, in 1997.
  • Inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 2007.
  • Russell Crowe approached him to write a sequel to Gladiator; in 2009, the script was rejected by the studio for not being in keeping with the spirit of the original.