As an early member of the Bad Seeds, Anita Lane had a profound impact on Nick Cave’s career, writing some of the avant-garde musician’s signature songs. Now, after Rolling Stone reported her death, at 61, on April 28, Cave is remembering his late collaborator. In a new issue of his newsletter, “The Red Hand Files,” Cave compared working with Lane to “trying to trap lightning in a bottle.” He met Lane in 1977, when she was a 17-year-old art student in Australia; she moved to London with him when he began his band the Birthday Party, becoming a writing — and, for a time, romantic — partner. Lane joined the Bad Seeds upon its formation, but her bigger impact came from co-writing arresting songs like “From Her to Eternity” and “Stranger Than Kindness,” the latter of which Cave called his “favourite Bad Seeds song” in his tribute. “She was the smartest and most talented of all of us, by far,” Cave wrote.
Though she was only a member for a short time, Lane continued to write and perform with the Bad Seeds through 1995. She also had a solo career, releasing her first EP, Dirty Sings, in 1988, and two full-length albums, 1993’s Dirty Pearl and 2001’s Sex O’Clock. “She thought the best ideas were the ones that never saw the light of day,” Cave wrote in his newsletter. Lane “despised the concept of the muse but was everybody’s,” he went on to add, calling her his “best friend.” “It was both easy and terrifying to love her,” he wrote. Lane had reportedly been living in Byron Bay, Australia, as of 2020, and had multiple children. Cave wrote that she “loved her children more than anything. They were her pride and joy.”
Cave also shared early memories of Lane in the newsletter:
Standing on the street in a baby-doll dress, surrounded by sunshine, laughing and radiating a piercing beauty of such force you stop breathing.
I could not believe my eyes.
Later, at my kitchen table drawing things, she had a quickness of touch and a clear, light line full of humour, throwing each drawing away and starting another, charged with a rampant, unstable, fatal energy that would follow her all her life. My line, amateur and ponderous.
“Two months ago, speaking to her on the phone she seemed a million miles away,” he wrote, adding that she “leaves a big, crying space.” Cave’s full tribute is in his “Red Hand Files” newsletter.