Nicholas Edward Cave AO (born 22 September 1957) is an Australian singer, songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer and occasional actor, best known for fronting the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Cave's music is generally characterized by his baritone voice, 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 before fronting The Birthday Party, one of Melbourne's leading post-punk bands, in the late 1970s. They relocated to London in 1980, but, disillusioned by life there, evolved towards a darker, more challenging sound, and acquired a reputation as "the most violent live band in the world". At this time, Cave, with his shock of black hair and pale, emaciated look, became an unwilling gothic rock poster boy. Soon after the band's break-up in 1983, Cave formed Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Much of the band's early material was 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). The 1990s saw Cave achieve greater commercial success with quieter, piano-driven ballads, notably the Kylie Minogue duet "Where the Wild Roses Grow" (1996), and "Into My Arms" (1997). More recent releases, including the band's 17th and latest LP, Ghosteen (2019), feature increasingly abstract lyrics from Cave, as well as elements of ambient and electronic music. Grinderman, Cave's garage rock side project, has released two albums since 2006.
Cave co-wrote, scored and starred in the 1988 Australian prison film Ghosts… of the Civil Dead (1988), directed by John Hillcoat. He also wrote the screenplay for Hillcoat's bushranger film The Proposition (2005), and composed the 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), Lawless (2012), and Hell or High Water (2016). Cave is the subject of several films, including the semi-fictional "day in the life" 20,000 Days on Earth (2014), and the documentary One More Time with Feeling (2016). Cave has also released two novels: And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989) and The Death of Bunny Munro (2009).
Cave's work has become 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.