Kurt Cobain was an American icon and musician who was best known as the lead singer and guitarist for the rock band Nirvana. Following the success of their second album Nevermind, the group was labeled as “the flagship band” of Generation X, and Cobain was even hailed as “the spokesman of a generation”.
On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead at age 27 in his Seattle home – the victim of what was officially ruled a suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. And unfortunately today’s memories of his success are also clouded with the attention that was brought towards his heroin addiction, his illness, and his depression.
Now 21 years later, Cobain’s legacy and the mysteries surrounding the reason for his suicide remain just as intriguing to some as the Titanic disaster of 1912. People today still think of him often, listening to his music and jumping at any opportunity to learn even more about this legendary soul.
So to honor the Footprint Cobain has left behind, America’s Footprints dug up 12 little-known facts about him. Some you might know, and others might simply help you better understand the life and the struggles Cobain dealt with on a regular basis in the public spotlight.
- In June 1976, shortly after his parents divorced, the young Cobain scribbled onto his bedroom wall, “I hate Mom, I hate Dad, Dad hates Mom, Mom hates Dad, it simply makes you want to be sad.” And in a letter to his father later in life, Cobain wrote: “I’ve never taken sides with you or my mother because while I was growing up I had equal contempt for you both.”
- Cobain recorded his first few songs in December 1982 at his Aunt Mari’s house. They involved a guitar, bass, and spoons banged against a suitcase. Cobain titled the recordings “Organized Confusion.”
- Kurt had a tattoo that you probably never noticed because his regular uniform was jeans, plaids, and cardigans. But on his forearm, there was a small “K” inside a shield, the logo of “K Records” (an indie label in Olympia, Washington).Their motto was ‘exploding the teenage underground into passionate revolt against the corporate ogre since 1982.’ The label itself had a very anti-mainstream, do-it-yourself attitude.
But in an ironic twist, after Nirvana became famous, Cobain offered to play at the inaugural International Pop Underground festival in Olympia. However, the event coordinators turned him down. Cobain was very hurt by the rejection, and felt alienated from the scene he cared about most.
- Before Nirvana’s debut album titled “Bleach”, an article written about the band had misspelled Kurt’s name as “Kurdt Kobain.” From that point on, Kurt often intentionally spelled his name Kurdt, signing his artwork and journal entries under the moniker.It remains unclear why he chose to do this at times, but it was thought that he used this name to represent an alter-ego when he wasn’t feeling like himself.
- In 1992, Cobain claimed that he and Courtney Love spent a million dollars: $80,000 on personal expenses, $380,000 on taxes, $300,000 on a house in Carnation, Washington, and the rest on doctors and lawyers. “That’s not very much,” said Cobain. “That’s definitely not what Axl [Rose] spends a year” (another popular artist who Cobain was not very fond of).
- Cobain grew to hated playing the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Even though it was Nirvana’s biggest hit, Kurt got sick of it after just a short time.He said that his goal with writing “Teen Spirit” was to basically make a huge record and rip off the Pixies. He refused to play it at many of Nirvana’s later shows. And when he did play it, he often intentionally butchered it.
- When Kurt was living with his mother in high school, she gave him the ultimatum of moving out or getting a job. After a week, she took it upon herself to pack up his stuff in boxes.So taking it as a message, he moved out. Sometimes, Cobain would sleep in the waiting room at Grays Harbour Community Hospital, the place of his birth. But most times, he’d sleep under a bridge in Aberdeen by the Wishkah River.
This is where the title of Nirvana’s live album, From The Muddy Banks Of the Wishkah came from.
- Just hours after performing on Saturday Night Live, and one week before Nevermind hit number one on the charts, Cobain overdosed on drugs. His then wife Courtney Love found him at 7:00 am the next morning lying on the floor.She revived him by splashing water on his face and punching him in the stomach.
- Cobain once wrote: “I have been forced to become a reclusive Rock Star. no interviews, no radio appearances, etc. due to the legions of self appointed authorities on music who are not musicians, who have not contributed anything artistic to Rock and Roll besides maybe a few second rate long winded, books on Rock and Roll and most importantly who are the highest group of mysogynists in all forms of expression.”
- Courtney Love once said, “Kurt was pure and he was also insanely ambitious. He wanted what he got, but because of his training, because of Olympia, he decided he didn’t want it.”
- Kurt had apparently attempted suicide multiple times. In March of 1994, Kurt locked himself in a closet with guns and medication. His wife Courtney Love called the cops, and they arrived in enough time to remove the guns and drugs.Sadly, just one month later, Kurt attempted suicide once again. And this time – he was successful.
- It’s been confirmed that there was a history of mental illness in the family, and that two of Kurt’s uncles had ended their lives with guns. Thus it was suspected that bipolar disorder may have contributed to Kurt’s decision to commit suicide.Kurt was always very open about his own mood swings, and while the highs and lows of a stressful lifestyle and the toll of addiction played a role, his predisposition to depression may have also been a factor.
Ultimately we will probably never fully understand the true story of Kurt Cobain, as there remains many unanswered questions about his life story that people today still seek the answers to.
Yet perhaps in the end, the intriguing mystery surrounding his death may not be a coincidence after all. And instead might simply part of the universe’s bigger plan to keep his legacy alive…for generations to come.
R.I.P. Mr. Cobain.