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Unhappy Birthday Party

Everett True remembers the Birthday Party’s guitar god Rowland S Howard:

Singer Nick Cave was charismatic, a sardonic streak of energy and charm; bassist Tracy Pew was the sort of man you never wanted to be stuck inside a jail cell with; but it was Howard – with his nerve-jangling shards of feedback left hanging in the air – that my gaze was invariably drawn to. He cut a memorable figure on stage: lean, ravaged; omnipresent cigarette dangling from the lips; guitar being wrenched and pummelled until it could howl no more. He and Cave were natural foils (indeed, Cave to this day has never quite managed to find an on-stage sparring partner to match Howard). Howard’s live presence became the yardstick by which I still measure all other guitarists.

First posted: Tuesday, January 5th, 2010.

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