From Pink Floyd to King Crimson: Nick Cave names his favourite guitarists of all time
At a time when live music seems nothing but a distant memory, we’re spending time during the health crisis to revisit the inspirational figures who have impacted the creative vision of contemporary music’s leading names. Here, we look at a selection of Nick Cave’s favourite musicians.
A little while back Cave was been discussing some of the musicians to have shaped his outlook as part of his fan-led forum, The Red Had Files, in which he answers questions from his supporters.
While some previous questions have been directly about his work with The Bad Seeds and The Birthday Party, others have been more general life advice, using Cave as a sometime Agony Uncle. The singer has responded in a kind and cultured way that might belie his exterior image. Talking with fans about grief and body positivity to name a few, the latest edition sees cave open up yet again.
“Who are your favourite guitarists?” one fan asks. “When was the last time you felt a sense of pride (in yourself)?” another quizzed as part of the same post on Cave’s website. While referencing and citing specific names of influences has never been his style, the Bad Seeds frontman has allowed his previous resistance to slip away in his attempts to feel a closer bond to his fans.
“Recently, I watched the movie, Mandy, with my sons – a terrifying but beautiful film,” Cave began in his response. “The song ‘Starless’ by King Crimson was used to great effect during the opening credits. My sons agreed that this was an amazing song, which made me happy because when I was a teenager I was a huge King Crimson fan. King Crimson was able to combine extraordinary moments of purity and fragility with super heavy rock ‘n’ roll, and maybe they imprinted somewhere in my mind the template for some of the more schizophrenic Bad Seeds songs.
“King Crimson were masters of the sudden violent eruption. Bill Bruford, their drummer was simply off the planet and Robert Fripp was my favourite guitarist at the time, along with, of course, David Gilmour.”
Cave added: “As a teenager, I was a big English progressive rock fan. Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Procol Harum, Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer – I loved that stuff. I still do. To this day, Robert Fripp and David Gilmour are giants to me, and remain among my favourite guitarists. Fripp and Gilmour are very different players but there is something about the tone of their instruments that touches me in a very deep place. The same goes for Funkadelic’s Eddie Hazel (check out Maggot Brain!). These guitarists play as if they are singing, I think. Tonally and emotionally, David Gilmour’s guitar is simply a supercharged version of his voice – satiny, stirring and epic. Robert Fripp’s guitar sound is more radical, dangerous and unpredictable, but even at his most confrontational that lyrical and songlike quality is never far away.”
Below, we’ve picked out the selected musicians named by Cave.