Performing Arts Collection
Cave, Nick
Cave, Nick


Nick Cave has received widespread acclaim, both in Australia and overseas, as an innovative, enigmatic and highly creative writer, songwriter and musician. He has produced a unique body of work not easily attributed to stylistic conventions. While rock and the blues are key touchstones for his music, his work is equally focused on his interest in narrative forms, most notably, the ballad and the love song.

Nick Cave's journey began in 1975, when he and long-time friend and collaborator, Mick Harvey formed the band The Boys Next Door, with fellow schoolmates, Tracey Pew and Phil Calvert. The band's early influences came from 1960s British R&B and pop, the glam rock of David Bowie and American bands and individuals such as The Ramones, Alice Cooper and Lou Reed. The band became an integral part of the alternative Melbourne music scene and the St.Kilda venue, the Crystal Ballroom.

In 1980 The Boys Next Door made the decisive shift overseas and moved to London. It was here that the band evolved to become The Birthday Party and its members included Nick Cave (vocals), Mick Harvey (keyboards and guitar), Tracey Pew (bass), Phil Calvert (drums) and Rowland S. Howard (guitar and vocals). The Birthday Party was renowned for its creativity, passion and the sheer volume and aggressiveness of its music. During their short and intense life, they released 3 studio albums and developed an appreciative fan base, collaborating with various artists such as singer/songwriter Anita Lane, New York based Lydia Lunch, and members of Australian bands the Moodists and the Go-Betweens. However, in 1983, The Birthday Party disbanded, performing their final gig in Melbourne.

The enduring collaboration between Cave and Mick Harvey resulted in the formation of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in 1984. The core line-up eventually included Blixa Bargeld (guitar), Conway Savage (piano), Martin P Casey (bass) and Thomas Wydler (drums). Over 22 years The Bad Seeds have attained a reputation akin to legendary status, retaining their cutting edge image and music while finding increasing acceptance by the mainstream music industry. Cave's duet with Kylie Minogue, "Where the Wild Roses Grow"in 1995, proved a surprising hit. While the band line-up has changed, the band's continuity can be attributed to the nucleus of Cave and Harvey and the flexibility for each member to pursue other projects. Since the first Bad Seeds album, From Her To Eternity (1984), the band has released 13 studio albums, the most recent produced in 2004, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus.

Alongside Cave's involvement in The Bad Seeds, his varied creative projects include writing a novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989); collaborating with film directors Wim Wenders and John Hillcoat as an actor, lyricist, scriptwriter and soundtrack composer; releasing two volumes of his lyrics and curating the 1999 Meltdown Festival at the South Bank Centre, London.

Collection Highlights

In 1992 Nick Cave donated handwritten lyrics for The Mercy Seat (1988), A Box for Black Paul (1983), and a cover design for his collection of lyrics, King Ink (1988). Also in 1992, photographer Peter Milne documented Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on tour in Europe and a selection of 34 of these images form a central part of the Nick Cave collection at the Arts Centre Melbourne. These images featured in the Performing Arts Collection's exhibition Just Pretend I'm Not Here: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on Tour, Europe 1992.

Other photographers featured in the Performing Arts Collection such as Shellie Tonkin, Kathleen O'Brien, Michel Lawrence and Tony Mott, have also documented Nick Cave performing and in studio shoots. Complementing the studio, performance and tour images are a collection of posters.

In 2003, Cave agreed to donate a collection of his work to the Arts Centre Melbourne - lyrics, notebooks, artwork and photographs - both significant and intensely personal. His personal archive formed the basis of the major Icon Exhibition presented by the Arts Centre Melbourne in 2007, and which subsequently toured the nation. Interest in the Nick Cave collection grew during this time and another important donation was made by Andrew & Lynne Trute. The Trute Collection contains material relating to Nick Cave and the Boys Next Door, The Birthday Party, Immaculate Consumptives, Man or Myth and the Bad Seeds.

> View the Nick Cave Catalogue Records

Shoes worn by Nick Cave, c.1993
Photograph of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Bag, Kylie bag owned by Nick Cave c 1992