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Craig Nicholls

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Craig Nicholls
Nicholls performing in December 2003
Background information
Birth nameCraig Robert Nicholls
Born (1977-08-31) 31 August 1977 (age 46)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • artist
Years active1994–present

Craig Robert Nicholls (born 31 August 1977) is an Australian musician, best known as the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the Australian alternative rock band The Vines, of which he is the sole continuous member.

Early life


Nicholls was born in Sydney.[1] Terry Nicholls, his father, was the guitarist and vocalist in a 1960s group named The Vynes.[2] He later worked as an accountant for Sony Music Australia.[2] Nicholls has an older brother, Matt, an older sister, Tara, who is a solicitor, and a younger sister, Jessica.[3][4][5] Nicholls' father taught him to play guitar during childhood.[2][6] He spent his free time listening to The Beatles, painting artworks, and skateboarding. He stated, "I grew up a loner... I never socialised. I stayed at home and listened to music all day. Music became a mystical world."[2]

Nicholls attended Marist College Penshurst until he dropped out of high school in year 10.[2] He then enrolled in an art school for six months to study painting.[2][7] He supported his ambition to become a musician by working at a McDonald's in Hurstville.[2][8] There, he met future bandmates, bass guitarist Patrick Matthews and drummer David Olliffe.[6] To form a quartet named Rishikesh, Nicholls also invited his schoolmate Ryan Griffiths to join as a guitarist. Nicholls chose the band's name, Rishikesh, which originally referred to a city in India where The Beatles had attended an ashram.[6][9] Reviewing early gigs, newspapers would misprint the name as "Rishi Chasms", so Nicholls decided to change it to The Vines, as a reference to his father's group.

Music career


Nicholls commenced his song writing career at the time when The Vines began live performances.[when?] Initial shows included performances at backyard parties and a presence on a local radio station. Gaining popularity in Sydney, the band attracted the attention of Capitol Records. Nicholls continued to compose songs, writing Factory,[10] the band's first single, which became NME's Single of the Week in November 2001.[11] At the ARIA Music Awards of 2002, The Vines won Best Breakthrough Artist - Single for Get Free, which was also written by Nicholls.[12][13] At the APRA Music Awards of 2003 he won the Breakthrough Songwriter Award.[14]

Griffiths, Heald and Rosser eventually left the band,[when?] and Nicholls returned with new band members for the release of The Vines' independently-released sixth album Wicked Nature, described as a "comeback" by Darren Levin of the Faster Louder online music publication. Nicholls also produced the album that was recorded with Tim John (bass) and Lachy West (drums) of the band The Griswolds. Regarding the departure of his former bandmates, Nicholls explained in August 2014, "It's not the most comfortable thing [to talk about... it's just a shame that it didn't work out."[15]

Several of Nicholls' paintings are used for The Vines' releases, including for the albums Highly Evolved, Winning Days (self portrait only), and singles Highly Evolved, and Outtathaway!. Nicholls' work on Highly Evolved was nominated for Best Cover Art at the 2002 ARIA Awards.[12][16]

Personal life

Nicholls is shown singing into a microphone while strumming a guitar.
Nicholls with The Vines in March 2004

By 2002, Nicholls had gained a reputation as an erratic performer.[7][17] In August, The Vines performed Get Free on Late Show with David Letterman, with Nicholls destroying Hamish Rosser's drum kit.[18] In December, they were prevented from performing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno after Nicholls damaged the set during a rehearsal.[19] His behaviour was seen as "a sign of stress and mental exhaustion".[8]

In May 2004, The Vines appeared at a promotional show for radio station Triple M, where Nicholls bleated at the audience and demanded they not talk during the band's performance.[3][18] As a result of this and other aggressive behaviour by Nicholls, Matthews left the stage and quit the band with immediate effect. He later joined the band Youth Group and did not perform with The Vines again for another 14 years. Triple M subsequently banned the group's music from being broadcast by their station.[3][8] Further performances on their Australian, United States, and European tours to promote their second album, Winning Days, were cancelled.[4][18]

In November 2004, accompanied by his brother Matt and his manager and friend Andy Kelly,[4] Nicholls faced assault and malicious damage charges at Balmain Local Court in Sydney.[20] During the hearing it was revealed that Nicholls has Autism Spectrum Disorder.[20] His condition had been suspected by road crew veteran Tony Bateman,[3] and was confirmed by Professor Tony Attwood, an autism spectrum disorder specialist, in August 2004.[4] The judge dropped all charges against Nicholls on the condition that he seek immediate treatment.[20] He was under medical treatment and therapy for six months, and stopped his intake of fast food and cannabis.[3][21] He spoke about his condition in subsequent interviews.[3][21]

In November 2008, The Vines cancelled shows in Australia and Japan, as Nicholls' mental health had deteriorated over the previous month.[22] Nicholls was arrested on 13 October 2012 at his Sydney home on allegations he had assaulted his parents, and injured a responding police officer as he resisted arrest.[23] He appeared before a judge at Sutherland Local Court on 17 October 2012, where a trial date of 14 November was set. The charges include "two counts of domestic assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, stalking and resisting arrest".[24]

In a 2014 Rolling Stone Australia article, Nicholls revealed that he had moved back into the family home in 2013 after receiving medical intervention. On the subject of his mental health, he said:

I have been out of my mind a couple of times in my life ... To me, that's just what I'm like. When I was younger it seemed cool to be crazy. I'm not trying to be crazy now. I'm trying to be normal. What's important to me is my family and making the albums.[25]

In an August 2014 interview with the DIY publication, Nicholls explained that he manages his condition by rarely socialising, stating, "I'm just following my instincts so... that's alright." During the same interview, he also revealed that he shuns 21st-century technology, such as smartphones and computers, as he prefers to minimise his responsibilities and live "like a kid". Nicholls maintained that music has "really been the thing that saved me".[15]


  1. ^ "Today in History for 31st August 1977". HistoryOrb. Bruce T. Goldman. 31 August 1977. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Sheffield, Rob (19 September 2002). "The Vines". Rolling Stone. No. 905. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f McLean, Craig (5 March 2006). "Stop Making Sense". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d McCabe, Kathy (20 November 2004). "Star's Secret Agony". The Daily Telegraph.
  5. ^ Cashmere, Tim (17 October 2010). "Vines Singer Joins Smashing Pumpkins in Sydney". Undercover Media Pty Ltd. Paul Cashmere, Ros O'Gorman. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "Guest Programmers & Specials – The Vines". rage. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 5 October 2002. Archived from the original on 23 May 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  7. ^ a b Jelbert, Steve (5 July 2002). "Craig Nicholls: Vine Language". The Independent. Retrieved 1 September 2011.[dead link]
  8. ^ a b c Sams, Christine (6 June 2004). "Help Me, I'm a Pop Star". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  9. ^ Saltzman, Paul (2000). The Beatles in India. Penguin Studio Books. ISBN 0-670-89261-0. Archived from the original on 3 July 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Factory". ASCAP ACE Title Search. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  11. ^ "NME Lists – Singles of the Week from 2001". NME. 28 January 2006. Archived from the original on 29 June 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Winners by Artist: Vines, The". ARIA Awards 2010 : History. Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 2 September 2011.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Get Free". ASCAP ACE Title Search. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  14. ^ "2003 Winners - APRA Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Archived from the original on 8 March 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
  15. ^ a b Darren Levin (2 September 2014). "Craig Nicholls: "I'm a loner, a groaner and a misfit"". Faster Louder. Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  16. ^ "2002: 16th Annual ARIA Awards". ARIA Awards – History: Winners by Year. Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 5 December 2009.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Leahey, Andrew. "The Vines". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  18. ^ a b c Jinman, Richard (5 June 2004). "Vines in a Tangle". The Age. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  19. ^ Boucher, Geoff (11 December 2002). "Rowdy Vines Get Cut from 'Jay Leno'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  20. ^ a b c "Vines Singer Diagnosis Revealed". NME. 19 November 2004. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  21. ^ a b Oldham, James. "The Vines". Mushroom Records. Archived from the original on 18 September 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  22. ^ "The Vines Cancel Tours Due to Singer's Asperger's Syndrome". NME. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  23. ^ Gayles, Contessa. "Craig Nicholls Arrested: Vines Frontman Booked for Allegedly Assaulting His Mother". Spinner.com. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  24. ^ "The Vines' Craig Nicholls bailed on assault charges". NME. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  25. ^ "Craig Nicholls Gets Free". Rolling Stone Australia. 12 September 2014. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.