The enigmatic: Kurt Cobain

The enigmatic: Kurt Cobain

The turbulent life, the endless parties, the drug addiction, the love affair with Courtney Love, and the enormous success of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Cobain’s death, like his life, had such an impact on the music scene that no one can say “Nevermind”.

It has been 27 years since Kurt Cobain died at the age of 27. Kurt Donald Cobain was an American musician best known as the leader, vocalist, guitarist, and composer of Nirvana. On April 8, 1994, the Nirvana singer was discovered dead at his home near Lake Washington by an electrician who had gone there to install a security system.

The Seattle Chief Medical Examiner found that Cobain committed suicide by firearm three days earlier on April 5th, barely days after leaving a rehabilitation clinic.

In the last years of his life, he fought his own battles with heroin and depression. He couldn’t easily manage his fame and public image, nor the professional and personal pressures around himself and his wife, the musician Courtney Love.

A few years ago, police released additional information about the singer’s death. Four sealed films were discovered wrapped in packets at the Seattle Police Photographic Laboratory over 20 years after his suicide. Seattle police said the images from the site were clearer than previous ones and pledged to re-examine all of the case’s circumstances – but the new investigation was halted before it even began.

Kurt Cobain’s childhood and life before Nirvana

Cobain was born on February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington to a tiny bourgeois household with no ties to the entertainment industry. His mother worked as a waitress, while his father was an engineer. Although his parents were not interested in music, his uncle, Chuck Fradenburg, was a member of The Beachcombers, and this is how Cobain became acquainted with the music industry. Kurt’s skill was evident from an early age, as he began singing at the age of two, and at the age of four, he played the piano and composed his first song, which portrayed a walk in the park.

Cobain’s parents’ divorce when he was nine years old was a traumatic event that cost him a lot emotionally. He found refuge in a guitar his uncle had given him as a gift. Somehow, he started playing punk rock and playing in local bands in his area. A few months later, he formed his own band and recorded a few tracks, but the band did not last long. As a teenager, he had various problems with the police and was arrested while spraying paint on the walls of a building.

Self-medication with heroin

Cobain suffered from bronchitis and physical pain for most of his life due to an unknown cause of stomach ailments. He first tried to fight the pains associated with his condition through marijuana when he was 13 years old, and later found relief in heroin. The fatal drug temporarily relieved his pain, but it left a lasting impact on his personality and personal life. Cobain never managed to deal with his heroin addiction.

The Nirvana chapter

It wasn’t long after his failed attempt with his first band that Kurt met Krist Novoselic, another cult punk rock musician. They rehearsed at Krist’s mother’s hair salon, and Kurt soon convinced his friend that it was time to start their own band. And that’s how Nirvana was formed. He formed the band in 1987 with Krist Novoselic and for the next two years, they were involved in the emerging grunge scene in Seattle. Cobain is considered one of the pioneers of grunge music and his music continues to have a significant impact on the rock music scene around the world to this day.

In 1991, the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from the album “Nevermind” had a major impact on the direction of rock music, leading to the rise of grunge and alternative rock. The song has sold over 25 million albums in the US and over 75 million worldwide. The media described the song as the “anthem” of an entire generation, and Cobain was considered a representative of Generation X.

The Nevermind album´s cover

Nirvana - Nevermind album cover

Cobain was inspired to create the iconic “Nevermind” album cover after watching a water birth on TV.  The three members of the band – Cobain, Grohl, and Krist Novoselic – were originally photographed in the pool, but the photo didn’t turn out so well, so they decided to do an audition with babies. The baby in the photo, Spencer Eldon, was 3 months old at the time the photo was taken. There were fears that the baby’s nudity might cause a reaction.

The enigmatic: Kurt Cobain | Rock & Art

What he said about misogyny and homophobia

Cobain has voiced strong opinions on the issue of female abuse and has been a vocal advocate for women’s rights. In a 1991 interview with the NME, he said: “Rape is one of the worst crimes in the world and it happens every few minutes. The problem with victim support groups is that they try to teach women how to defend themselves.

They have to do it. They have to teach men not to hurry. They have to start from the source.” He had also taken a pro-gay stance in a statement: “If any of you hate homosexuals, people of different colours, or women in any way, please do us a favour – do not come to our concerts and do not buy our records.”

Cobain and Courtney Love

Prior to the release of “Nevermind”, Cobain met the leader of the band Hole, singer Courtney Love, at a concert in Los Angeles in 1991. Later that year, Cobain and Love became a couple despite the distance between them, as they were both on separate tours. About the time Nirvana appeared on Saturday Night Live, Love found out that she was pregnant with Cobain’s child. A few days after Nirvana’s tour of the Western United States ended on February 24th, 1992, Cobain married Love in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii.

On August 18th the couple’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was born. It was widely known that the couple shared drugs and climbed the steps of the church on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, possibly due to Love’s pregnancy.

The enigmatic: Kurt Cobain | Rock & Art

Their relationship was rocky – just like their own lives. On March 4th, 1994, Cobain attempted suicide with a drug overdose and was rushed to hospital by his wife. They then claimed that it was an accident and that the Nirvana singer didn’t want to commit suicide. On March 18th, Love called police to inform them that Cobain had been locked in a room and threatened to end his life, holding a gun in his hands.

Police arrived and seized several weapons and a bottle of pills from Cobain, who insisted he had been locked in a room to hide from Love, and assured the police that he would not attempt suicide. Love was not popular with Nirvana fans. Her harshest critics accused her of using Cobain to become famous. It is even rumored that Kurt Cobain wrote most of the songs on the album that made her famous. 

Kurt Cobain: all about his death

In the last years of his life, Cobain had problems with drug addiction. After the first drug incident, Cobain retired to his Seattle home and made rare public appearances. On March 25th, 1994, Courtney Love set up a “council” to address Cobain’s drug addiction. The ten people who participated were friends of his, musicians, members of the record company with which he collaborated, and one of his best friends, Dylan Carlson.

By the end of the day, Cobain agreed to a detox program and went to the Exodus Recovery Center in Los Angeles, California, on March 30th. The next night, he went outside to smoke a cigarette, then climbed over the fence and left the facility. He took a taxi to Los Angeles Airport, where he flew back to Seattle.

On April 2nd and 3rd, he was seen in various locations in Seattle, but most of his friends and family had no idea where he was. Love hired Private Detective Tom Grant to find Cobain on April 3rd. On April 7th, the band announced that they would not be participating in the Lollapalooza music festival that year.

On April 8th, 1994, electrician Gary Smith found Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain dead when he visited the house to do some work. But Cobain had already been dead for three days, since the forensic report estimated that he died on April 5th, 1994. The electrician said he saw no signs of injury and initially thought Kurt Cobain was asleep until he saw the gun pointed at his face. Police said Cobain had taken an overdose of heroin before putting the shotgun to his temple.

On April 10th, an overnight vigil for Kurt Cobain took place in a park in central Seattle, where about seven thousand people gathered to mourn. Recorded messages and songs were shown at the memorial, and Courtney Love read excerpts from Cobain’s suicide note to the crowd, weeping and cursing Kurt for leaving her.

Towards the end of the night, Love arrived at the park and handed out some of Kurt Cobain’s remaining clothes. A year later, Nirvana released their last album, “Unplugged In New York”. In 2014 he officially joined the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame along with the other members of Nirvana, Novoselic, and Grohl, and was honored with a tribute for his contribution to music with the band 20 years after his death.