Kurt Cobain was born on the 20th of February 1967 in Hoquaim, a small town 140 kilometres south-west of Seattle. His mother
was a cocktail waitress and his father was an auto mechanic. He soon moved to nearby Aberdeen, a depressed and dying
He was, for most of
his childhood, a sickly bronchitic child. Matters were made worse when his parent's divorced when he was seven and, by his
own account, said he never felt loved or secure again. He became increasingly difficult, anti-social and withdrawn after his
parent's divorce. He also said that his parent's traumatic split fueled alot of the anguish in Nirvana's music.
After his parent's divorce,
Cobain found himself shuttled back and forth between various relatives and, at one stage, homeless and living under a bridge.
When Cobain was eleven
he heard, and was captivated by, the British band Sex Pistols and, after their self-destruction, Kurt
and his friend, Krist Novoselic, continued to listen to the wave of British bands, including Joy Division, the nihilistic
post-punk band that some say Nirvana are directly descended from in form of mood, melody and lyrical quality.
Cobain's artistry and iconoclastic
attitude didn't win many friends in high school and sometimes earned him beatings from "jocks". Cobain got even by spray painting
"QUEER" on their pick-up trucks. By 1985, Aberdeen was dead and Cobain's next stop was Olympia. Cobain formed and reformed
a series of bands before Nirvana came to be in 1986. Nirvana was an uneasy alliance between Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic
and eventually drummer and multi-instrumentalist Dave Grohl.
By 1988, Nirvana were doing
shows and had demo tapes going around. In 1989, Nirvana recorded their rough-edged first album Bleach for local Seattle independent
label Sub-Pop records.
In Britain, Nirvana received
a lot of recognition and in 1991 their contract was bought out by Geffen, they signed to the mega-label, the first non-mainstream
band to do so. Two and a half years after Nirvana's first C.D. Bleach was released, they released Nevermind, a series of different,
crunching, screaming songs that along with it's first single, Smells Like Teen Spirit, would propel Nirvana to mainstream
Smells Like Teen Spirit
became Nirvana's most highly acclaimed and instantly recognizable song. Not many people can dechiper it's exact lyrics but
Cobain used a seductive hookline to hook the listener. Nevermind went on to sell ten million copies and make a reported $550
million (US) leaving Nirvana overnight millionaires. Cobain was shocked at the reception of his highly personal and passionate
music repeatedly telling reporters that none of the band ever, ever expected anything like this. It quickly became obvious
that the obsessively, sickly, and sensitive 24yr old was not going to cope well with the rock'n roll lifestyle. "If there
was a rock star 101 course, I'd really have like to take it," Cobain once observed. Cobain fell into heroin in the early 90's,
he said he used it as a shield against the rigorous demands of touring and to stop the pain of stomach ulcers or an irritated
bowel. Through the touring and pressure, He continued to write his very personal acutely focused lyrics.
Cobain was distressed to
find out that what he wrote and how it was interpreted could quite often be miles apart. He was appalled when he found out
that Polly, a heavily ironic anti-rape song had been used as background music in a real gang-rape. He later appealed to fans
on the Incesticide liner notes, "If any of you don't like gays or women or blacks, please leave us the fuck alone." It was
to no avail, Cobain found that as an overnight millionaire musician control was something he had very little of. Cobain also
worried that his band had sold-out, that it was attracting the wrong kind of fans (i.e the type that used to beat him up.)
In February 1992, Cobain
skipped off to Hawaii to marry the already pregnant Courtney Love. Later in the year, Nirvana released Incesticide and in
August, Cobain had hospital treatment for heroin abuse. Shortly after Frances Bean Cobain was born. In early 1993, In Utero
was released into the top spot on the music charts. In Utero was widely acclaimed by the music press and it contains some
of Cobain's most passionate work. In Utero was a lot more open than Nirvana's previous albums. Songs like All Apologies and
Heart Shaped Box detailed aspects of Cobain's sometimes shaky marriage, other songs like Scentless Apprentice detailed the
agonies and struggles of Cobain's experiences.
Nirvana embarked on a support
tour and recorded and filmed an "unplugged" (acoustic) performance for MTV in November of 1993. Nirvana's choice to honor
bands and people that had influenced them and Cobain's passionate and intense vocals especially on "Where Did You Sleep Last
Night?"silenced many of the people who had labeled Cobain talentless. Rumors circulated that the MTV Unplugged compilation
would be Nirvana's last album and the band were splitting up.
Cobain was a gun fanatic
and always had several in his possession or in various forms of confiscation. In the northern winter of 1993-94, Nirvana embarked
on an extensive European tour. Twenty concerts into the tour Cobain developed throat problems and their schedule was interrupted
while he recovered. While recovering, Cobain flew to Rome to join his wife who was also preparing to tour with her own band.
On March the 4th, Cobain
was rushed to hospital in a coma after an unsuccessful suicide bid in which he washed down about fifty prescription painkillers
with champagne. The suicide bid was officially called an accident and was not even made known to close friends and associates.
Several days later he returned to Seattle. Cobain's wife, friends, and managers convinced Cobain, who was still in deep distress,
to enter a detox program in L.A. According to a missing person's report filed by his mother Cobain fled after only a few days
of the program.
Cobain was cited in the
Seattle area with a shotgun. Days later, on the 5th of April, he barricaded himself into the above-garage room in his
seattle home, put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. On Thursday, April the 7th, two days after a medical examiner
says Cobain shot himself and the day before his body was found, police say Courtney Love herself was taken to hospital in
L.A. for a drug overdose. Released on bail, Love checked herself into a rehab center but left soon after a friend called her
the next day with news of Kurt's death.
Cobain's body was found
when an electrician visiting the house to install a security system went round the back of the house when no one answered
the front door and peered through windows. He thought he saw a mannequin sprawled on the floor until he noticed a splotch
of blood by Cobain's ear. When police broke down the door they found Cobain dead on the floor, a shotgun still pointed at
his chin and on a nearby counter a suicide note written in red ink addressed to Love and the couples then 19 month old daughter
The note ended with the
words "I love you, I love you." Two days after Kurt Cobain's body was found, about 5,000 people gathered in Seattle for a
candlelight vigil. The distraught crowd filled the air with profane chants, burnt their flannel shirts and fought with police.
They also listened to a tape made by Cobain's wife in which she read from his suicide note. Several distressed teenagers
in the U.S. and Australia killed themselves. The mainstream media was lambasted for it's lack of respect and understanding
of youth culture.