Nirvana On Fire
Nirvana were one of the biggest and most influential bands in the world. Formed in Seattle in 1987, they pretty much single-handedly catapulted alternative music into the mainstream when their second album Nevermind, took the music industry by surprise and turned popular culture on its head upon its release in 1991.
Kurt Cobain's life and death fast became rock 'n' roll legend. The worldwide success of his band, Nirvana, defined the music scene in the early 1990s and their songs spoke to, and for a generation. Cobain’s seismic impact on music and pop culture has long been felt since his death. Today we look at the story of artistic brilliance and the pain that extinguished it. Kurt Cobain - one of the twentieth century's most creative and troubled music geniuses.
Cobain had a generally happy childhood until his parents divorced when he was nine years old. After that event, he was frequently troubled and angry, and his emotional pain became a subject of, and catalyst for, much of his later music. As a teenager, he moved between various relatives’ houses, stayed with friends’ parents, and occasionally slept under bridges while he began to use drugs and take part in petty vandalism as forms of teenage rebellion. Cobain was musically inclined from an early age, and in the mid-1980s he began to play with members of the local “sludge rock” band the Melvins (who would themselves go on to earn a measure of national fame in the 1990s).
Nirvana Album Cover Nevermind
Nirvana Lead Singer
In 1985 he created a homemade tape of some songs with the drummer of the Melvins that later caught the attention of local bassist Krist Novoselic. Cobain and Novoselic formed Nirvana in 1987 and thereafter recruited a series of drummers to record demo tapes with them and play small shows throughout the Northwest. One of the group’s demo tapes found its way to Jonathan Poneman of the Seattle independent record label Sub Pop, which signed the band to produce its first single, “Love Buzz”, in 1988 and its first album, Bleach, in 1989.
The album had a unique (and soon-to-be signature) sound that mixed the rawness of punk rock with pop hooks, and the group soon became a target of major record labels. With new drummer Dave Grohl (who joined the band in 1990) Nirvana released its major-label debut, Nevermind (1991), which featured the hit single “Smells like Teen Spirit”; it became the first alternative-rock album to achieve widespread popularity with a mainstream audience. Nevermind catapulted Nirvana to worldwide fame, and Cobain came to be hailed as the voice of his generation, a title that he was never comfortable with.
Nirvana MTV Unplugged New York
Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain: There are varying reports that they briefly met in 1989 and 1990, but were officially reacquainted in 1991). Nirvana was at its peak, and Cobain was confused and depressed with the meteoric fame that came with his music. When Love re-entered his sphere, she had allegedly pursued him with dogged determination and according to numerous sources, was the one who introduced him to heroin.
Their courtship was intense and brief. After four months of dating, Love was already pregnant with their daughter when they decided to wed in Honolulu, Hawaii, on February 24, 1992. The bride wore a dress previously owned by Hollywood actress Frances Farmer, while Cobain wore green flannel pyjamas. After the wedding, Cobain went into a funk. Despite Nirvana's soaring popularity, the frontman had no desire to tour and further retreated into himself.
The following year Nirvana released its final studio album, In Utero, in which Cobain railed against his fame. Cobain had long suffered from depression and chronic stomach pain. He treated his issues with drugs: Cobain was a frequent user of heroin in the years after Nirvana’s breakthrough, and he took a variety of painkillers in an attempt to numb his constant stomach agony.
In March 1994 he was hospitalised in Rome after overdosing and slipping into a coma in what was later characterised as a failed suicide attempt. He went into a coma and nearly died after mixing champagne and the drug Rohypnol. The public was led to believe that the coma was induced by an accidental heroin overdose, since Cobain had a well-known problem with the drug.
Back at home in Seattle's Denny-Blaine neighborhood, the police were called to Cobain and Love’s home when he again threatened to kill himself. Although Cobain stated in a 1991 interview that he didn’t believe in guns, the officers confiscated four from his possession. As his wife and friends watched him spin out of control, they attempted to intervene. Cobain mostly ignored their concerns but reluctantly checked into a rehabilitation clinic in Los Angeles at the end of March.
In fact, following Cobain’s failed suicide attempt in March 1994, Love, along with several of his friends and bandmates, enlisted the help of intervention counselor Steven Chatoff. “They called me to see what could be done,” Chatoff explained to Rolling Stone. “He was using, up in Seattle. He was in full denial. It was very chaotic.
And they were in fear for his life. It was a crisis.” In late March, Love, Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear, along with several other friends went through with staging an intervention at Cobain’s home. During the meeting, Love reportedly threatened to leave Cobain, with whom she shared daughter Frances Bean, and his band also issued an ultimatum of breaking up the band, should he not agree to seek treatment at a rehabilitation facility.
Several days later, Cobain would do just that, but first, he paid a visit to his friend Dylan Carlson, who also participated in the intervention, at his Seattle home on March 30. Citing problems with trespassers on his property, Cobain asked for help in securing a firearm. “He seemed normal, we’d been talking,” Carlson later said. “Plus, I’d loaned him guns before.”
Cobain gave Carlson $300 to buy a 20-gauge shotgun and a box of ammunition from Stan’s Gun Shop. Knowing that Cobain was about to depart for treatment near Los Angeles, Carlson said that his friend’s need for the purchase did give him pause: “It seemed kind of weird that he was buying the shotgun before he was leaving. So I offered to hold on to it until he got back.” Cobain, however, insisted on keeping the weapon himself, and, according to police, he likely dropped off the gun at his home before traveling to Exodus Recovery Center in Marina del Rey, California, later that day.
Kurt Cobain Courtney Love
On March 30, Cobain walked away from the clinic without informing his family or friends. For the next few days, Love could not locate him and decided to hire a private detective on April 3. The detective made contact with Cobain the following day in Seattle, but Cobain refused to return to Los Angeles. In the meantime. On April 5, Cobain returned home.
On April 1, Cobain phoned Love with a cryptic message. According to an account, the Hole front woman gave a local Seattle newspaper, he said, in part, “Just remember no matter what, I love you.” Later that night — after spending just two days in rehab — staffers said he alerted them that he was stepping out to smoke a cigarette on the patio. Love explained that’s when he allegedly jumped over a more than six-feet-high brick wall and disappeared.
Police suspect he flew back to Seattle where he spent his final days wandering, with neighbours claiming to have spotted an ill-looking Cobain in a park near his home dressed in a heavy coat, which they deemed inappropriate for the April weather. Others have suggested he may have spent a night with an unidentified friend at his nearby summer home.
Kurt's close friend, Mark Lanegan, hadn’t heard from him for about a week in April 1994 when he began to fear the worst. “Kurt hadn’t called me,” he told Rolling Stone later that year. “He hadn’t called some other people. He hadn’t called his family. He hadn’t called anybody... I had a feeling that something real bad had happened.” Lanegan’s intuition proved to be correct.
On the morning of April 8, an electrician found 27-year-old Cobain dead of an apparent suicide in a greenhouse above the garage of his Seattle home. According to Rolling Stone, a 20-gauge shotgun was lying across his chest, and, as a medical examiner’s report later revealed, Cobain, who had already been dead two and a half days at that point, had a high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium in his bloodstream. The magazine also reported that he was identifiable only by his fingerprints.
Because he had been missing for six days prior to his dead body being discovered, many tried to piece together the last days of Cobain’s life. By all accounts, he had already been in a downward spiral for years before he died, battling depression and chronic drug addiction. In an interview with MTV, Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love, claimed that not long before her husband’s suicide, he told her that he hated being in Nirvana and couldn’t play with them anymore and only wanted to work with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe. All things considered, his loved ones’ alarm reached a fever pitch.
By April 5, however, law enforcement officials believe Cobain had barricaded himself inside the greenhouse where an electrician who came to the home to install a security system discovered his body, days later.
Grunge 90s Fashion
Love later recounted to MTV that after taking drugs, Cobain used the shotgun Carlson had helped him purchase days earlier to shoot himself in the head, thus ending his short life. She also said that her husband left a note in red ink that she read from at a Seattle memorial service.The loss of the talented musician remained unimaginable for his adoring fans, as well as all of those who knew him personally. "I remember the day after that I woke up and I was heartbroken that he was gone,” Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl later recalled. "I just felt like, 'Okay, so I get to wake up today and have another day and he doesn't.'"
Kurt was never able to quell the inner demons that stemmed from his lonely youth nor could he embrace his newfound celebrity, which he felt delegitimized his music. His world was caving in on him, and he couldn't take the pressure.
"I'd rather be hated for who I am... than loved for who I am not."
Kurt Cobain 1967 - 1994
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