Conway Savage, longtime pianist with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds for nearly 30 years, died Sunday at the age of 58.
Savage, who joined the Bad Seeds after Cave’s 1990 album The Good Son, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2017, which forced him to miss the band’s tour in support of 2016’s Skeleton Tree. A rep for the band confirmed to Pitchfork that Savage died as a result of the brain tumor.
“Our beloved Conway passed away on Sunday evening,” Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds said in a statement Sunday. “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.”
The band continued, “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.”
Savage appeared on seven Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds albums, including Henry’s Dream, Let Love In, Murder Ballads, The Boatman’s Call, No More Shall We Part, Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus and, most recently, 2013’s Push the Sky Away. Savage also contributed lead vocals to the band’s rendition of the traditional “The Willow Garden,” a Murder Ballads B-side.
Outside of the Bad Seeds, Savage released a pair of solo albums (2000’s Nothing Broken and 2004’s Wrong Man’s Hands) and featured in a number of Australian bands in the Eighties, including Dust on the Bible, the Feral Dinosaurs and the Happy Orphans, the latter two also featuring Dirty Three drummer Jim White.
In 2017, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds revealed that Savage would miss their summer tour after undergoing an operation related to the brain tumor. “The operation was largely a success and he is currently at home in Australia undergoing follow-up treatment,” the band wrote at the time. “I’m sure you’ll all join us in sending our beloved Conway lots of love & very best wishes. We are missing him enormously.”