Conway Savage, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds pianist, dies age 58


Conway Savage has died, aged 58, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour last year.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds announced the news this evening. “Our beloved Conway passed away on Sunday evening,” the band wrote in a statement on their Facebook page. 

“A member of Bad Seeds for nearly thirty years, Conway was the anarchic thread that ran through the band’s live performances.” 

“He was much loved by everyone, band members and fans alike. Irascible, funny, terrifying, sentimental, warm-hearted, gentle, acerbic, honest, genuine – he was all of these things and quite literally ‘had the gift of a golden voice,’ high and sweet and drenched in soul.” 

“On a drunken night, at four in the morning, in a hotel bar in Cologne, Conway sat at the piano and sang ‘Streets of Laredo‘ to us, in his sweet, melancholy style and stopped the world for a moment. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Goodbye Conway, there isn’t a dry eye in the house. Love, Nick and the Bad Seeds.”

Savage joined Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in 1990 around the time of their sixth studio album, The Good Son. He was part of the band during a streak of four critically lauded albums across the decade (from 1992’s Henry’s Dream through to 1997’s The Boatman’s Call).

RELATED: Classic Album: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads

Savage also appeared on the studio albums No More Shall We Part (2001), Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (2004), Dig Lazarus Dig (2008) and provided backing vocals on 2013’s Push The Sky Away.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Conway Savage second from right.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Conway Savage second from right.

Savage was born and raised in country Victoria during the 1960s. He began playing piano in his early teens, on ivories situtated in a pub owned by his parents. Music ran in the family: his brother Frank Savage fronted rock and cabaret acts, and his niece is Cash Savage, ringleader of Cash Savage and the Last Drinks.

During the ‘80s, he played in several Australian groups including Happy Orphans and Feral Dinosaurs (with future Dirty Three drummer Jim White), as well as Melbourne groups Dust on the Bible and Dave Last and the Legendary Boy Kings.

Conway Savage also enjoyed a fruitful solo career, beginning with the release of his self-titled 1993 EP, which featured fellow Bad Seeds Martyn P. Casey and Mick Harvey. He also released two full-length albums (2000’s Nothing Broken and 2004’s Wrong Man’s Hands), a 2005 compilation of rarities and live performances, and Live In Ireland in 2008.

He also collaborated with Suzie Higgie of Falling Joys (for an album of ballads called Soon Will Be Tomorrow), as well as Amanda Fox and Robert Tickner (on 2007’s Quickie For Ducky and 2010’s Pussy’s Bow EP). 

Savage also featured on recordings from Australian luminaries such as Kim Salmon, Dave Graney, David McComb, Robert Forster, and the late Spencer P. Jones.

In 2017, Savage underwent an operation for a brain tumour, forcing him to pull out of touring commitments in North America with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds behind their 2016 album Skeleton Tree.

 



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