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Tracy Pew

Tracy Pew with his classic Birthday Party era image.
Background information
Born 19 December 1957(1957-12-19)
Origin Australia
Died 7 November 1986 (aged 28)
Genres Rock & roll, post-punk
Occupations Bassist, instrumentalist
Years active 1977–1986
Associated acts The Boys Next Door, The Birthday Party, The Saints, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Notable instruments
Fender Jazz Bass

Tracy Pew (19 December 1957 – 7 November 1986) was an Australian musician, best known as the bass player for The Birthday Party.

Born in Australia, Pew moved with his family to New Zealand in 1959, returning in May 1964. Pew attended Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne, where he joined a band called The Boys Next Door, along with schoolfriends Nick Cave, Mick Harvey and Phill Calvert. After achieving some success in Australia, and with the addition of guitarist Rowland S. Howard, the band relocated to London and renamed themselves The Birthday Party.

On 16 February 1982, Pew was apprehended in a Melbourne hotel car park, and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. The owner of the car, his friend, was too drunk to drive. For this and a series of other accumulated fines and offences, he was sentenced to ten weeks in HM Prison Won Wron, a minimum security prison farm near Yarram.[1] During Pew's stretch at Won Wron, he was temporarily replaced in the band by Chris Walsh (of The Moodists) for the band's subsequent Melbourne shows, and Barry Adamson (of Magazine) and Harry Howard (Rowland S. Howard's brother) for their UK shows. Pew returned to the band after his release with a gig in Hammersmith on 26 May 1982.[2]

The Birthday Party split in 1983, although Pew briefly played bass for Nick Cave – Man or Myth?, the band that was to become Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on a live tour. Pew returned to Melbourne to study literature and philosophy at Monash University. In 1984, Chris Bailey asked him to be part of a touring line-up for seminal Australian punk band The Saints consisting of himself, Chris Burnham and Ian Shedden. Ed Kuepper agreed to tour with the band, replacing Pew on bass, but left after several weeks due to conflicts.[3] Pew contributed to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' cover LP Kicking Against the Pricks, and also performed on Lydia Lunch's concept album Honeymoon In Red. He died due to an epileptic seizure on 7 November 1986.

Personal life

Comedian Gina Riley (best known for Kath & Kim), during an appearance the musical quiz show Spicks and Specks, mentioned that she had dated Pew in 1976.[4]


  1. ^ Long Way to the Top: Timeline, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1996.
  2. ^ "From the Archives: The Birthday Party Chronology". Retrieved 2006-10-30.  
  3. ^ Kingsmill, Richard: The J Files: The Saints, Triple J, 30 November 2000.
  4. ^ "Season 5, Episode 12". Spicks and Specks. ABC TV. 22-4-09.

External links



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