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Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain
by The Ovi Team
2023-04-08 08:17:42
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8th April 1994; Modern rock icon Kurt Cobain lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the rock band Nirvana commits suicide with a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.

kurt02_400Kurt Donald Cobain was an American singer-songwriter and musician, best known as the lead singer and guitarist of the rock band Nirvana. With the lead single "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from Nirvana's second album Nevermind (1991), Nirvana entered into the mainstream, popularizing a subgenre of alternative rock called grunge. Other Seattle grunge bands such as Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden also gained wider audiences, and as a result, alternative rock became a dominant genre on radio and music television in the United States during the early-to-middle 1990s. Nirvana was considered the "flagship band of Generation X", and frontman Cobain found himself anointed by the media as the generation's "spokesman." Cobain was uncomfortable with the attention he received, and placed his focus on the band's music, believing the band's message and artistic vision to have been misinterpreted by the public, challenging the band's audience with its third studio album In Utero (1993).

During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with heroin addiction, illness and depression, his fame and public image, as well as the professional and lifelong personal pressures surrounding himself and his wife, musician Courtney Love. On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle, the victim of what was officially ruled a suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. The circumstances of his death have sometimes become a topic of fascination and debate. Since their debut, Nirvana, with Cobain as a songwriter, sold over twenty-five million albums in the United States alone, and over fifty million worldwide.

Kurt Donald Cobain was born on February 20, 1967, at Grays Harbor Hospital in Aberdeen, Washington, to waitress Wendy Elizabeth Fradenburg and automotive mechanic Donald Leland Cobain. His father was of Irish and French ancestry, and his mother, was of Irish, German and English ancestry. Cobain's Irish ancestors migrated from County Tyrone of Northern Ireland in 1875. Further research found them to have been shoemakers, originally named Cobane, who came from the village of Inishatieve near Pomeroy, who settled in Canada, and then in Washington. Cobain had one younger sister named Kimberly, born on April 24, 1970.

Cobain was raised by working-class parents, and his family had a musical background. His maternal uncle Chuck Fradenburg starred in a band called The Beachcombers, his Aunt Mari Earle played guitar and performed in bands throughout Grays Harbor County, and his great-uncle Delbert had a career as an Irish tenor; making an appearance in the 1930 film King of Jazz. Cobain was described as a happy, lively, and caring child. His talent as an artist was evident from an early age. His bedroom was described as having taken on the appearance of an art studio, where he would accurately draw his favourite characters from films and cartoons such as Aquaman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Disney characters like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Pluto. This enthusiasm was encouraged by his grandmother Iris Cobain, who was a professional artist herself. Cobain began developing an interest in music early in his life. According to his Aunt Mari, he began singing at two years old. At age four, Cobain began singing and playing the piano, writing a song about their trip to a local park. He would listen to artists like the Ramones and sing songs like Arlo Guthrie's "Motorcyle Song," The Beatles' "Hey Jude,"Terry Jacks' "Seasons in the Sun" and the theme song to The Monkees television show at a young age.

His parents divorced when he was eight years old, an event which he later said had a profound effect on his life. His mother noted that his personality changed dramatically - Cobain became more defiant and withdrawn. In a 1993 interview, he elaborated: "I remember feeling ashamed, for some reason. I was ashamed of my parents. I couldn't face some of my friends at school anymore, because I desperately wanted to have the classic, you know, typical family. Mother, father. I wanted that security, so I resented my parents for quite a few years because of that."
Cobain's parents both went on to date and find new partners after the divorce. His father promised not to remarry, however he did after meeting Jenny Westeby. The two Cobain males, Westeby and her two children Mindy and James moved into a new in household together. Cobain liked Westeby at first, who gave him the maternal attention he desired. In January 1979, Westeby gave birth to Chad Cobain. This new family, which Cobain insisted was not his real one, was in stark contrast the attention Cobain was used to receiving as an only child; he soon began to express resentment toward his stepmother. His mother began dating a man who was abusive towards her. Cobain witnessed the domestic violence inflicted towards her, and there was one incident that resulted in her being hospitalized with a broken arm. Wendy refused to press charges, and remained completely committed to the relationship.
Cobain's personality continued to change, where he would behave insolently toward adults and began severely bullying another boy at school. Eventually, his father and Westeby took him to a therapist, who concluded that he was in need of a single family. Both sides of the family attempted to bring his parents back together, but to no avail. On June 28, 1979, Cobain's mother granted full custody of their son to his father. Cobain's teenage rebellion soon became too overwhelming for his father however, and he was placed in the care of his differing family and friends.

kurt01While living with the born-again Christian family of his friend Jesse Reed, Cobain became a devout Christian and regularly attended church services. Cobain later renounced Christianity during early adolescence, engaging in what would be described as "anti-God" rants. The song "Lithium" is about his experience while living with the Reed family. Religion would still play an important part in Cobain's personal life and beliefs, as he often used Christian imagery in his work and maintained a constant interest in Jainism and Buddhist philosophy. The band name Nirvana was taken from the Buddhist concept, which Cobain described as "freedom from pain, suffering and the external world," which paralleled with the punk rock ethic and ideology. Cobain would regard himself as both a Buddhist and a Jain during different points of his life, including through watching late night television documentaries on both subjects.
Despite not being interested in sports, he was enrolled in the junior high school wrestling team at the insistence of his father. Despite being skilled, he despised the experience because of the ridicule he endured from his teammates and coach, and allowed himself to be pinned in order to spite his father. His father later enlisted him in a little league baseball team, where Cobain would intentionally strike out to avoid having to play. Cobain was more interested in art instead. He often drew during school classes, including objects associated with human anatomy. When given a caricature assignment for an art course, Cobain drew a posing Michael Jackson. When his art teacher told him the caricature would be inappropriate to be displayed in a school hallway, Cobain drew an unflattering sketch of then-President Ronald Reagan.

Cobain befriended a homosexual student at school, sometimes suffering bullying from homophobic students who concluded that Cobain was gay. In a 1993 interview with The Advocate, Cobain claimed that he was "gay in spirit" and "probably could be bisexual." He also stated that he used to spray paint "God Is Gay" on pickup trucks in the Aberdeen area. However, Aberdeen police records show that the phrase for which he was arrested was actually "Ain't got no how watchamacallit". One of his personal journals states, "I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes."
As attributed to numerous of Cobain's classmates and family members, the first concert he attended were Sammy Hagar and Quarterflash at the Seattle Center Coliseum in 1983. Cobain, however, claimed his first attended concert to be the Melvins - an experience of which he wrote prolifically in his Journals. As a teenager living in Montesano, Cobain eventually found escape through the thriving Pacific Northwest punk scene, going to punk rock shows in Seattle. Eventually, Cobain began frequenting the practice space of fellow Montesano musicians the Melvins.

During the second semester of his sophomore year, Cobain began living with his mother in Aberdeen. Two weeks prior to graduation, he dropped out of Aberdeen High School after realizing that he did not have enough credits to graduate. His mother gave him a choice: find employment or leave. After one week, Cobain found his clothes and other belongings packed away in boxes. Bannished from his mother's home, Cobain often stayed at friends' houses and sneaked into his mother's basement occasionally. Cobain claimed that during periods while homeless, he lived under a bridge over the Wishkah River, an experience that inspired the Nevermind track "Something in the Way". However, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic said, "He hung out there, but you couldn't live on those muddy banks, with the tides coming up and down. That was his own revisionism."
In late 1986, for the first time, Cobain moved into an apartment and paid his rent by working at a Polynesian coastal resort approximately 20 miles north from Aberdeen. During this period, he was travelling more frequently to Olympia, Washington, to observe rock concerts. During his visits to Olympia, Cobain formed a relationship with Tracy Marander, who reportedly was the subject of the song "About a Girl", and is listed in the photo credits on the album Bleach.

After she had separated from him, Cobain began dating Tobi Vail, an influential DIY punk zinester of the riot grrrl band Bikini Kill. After meeting Vail, Cobain vomited due to being so overwhelmed with anxiety through his infatuation with her. This would inspire the lyric; "Love you so much it makes me sick," which would appear in the song "Aneurysm". While Cobain would regard Vail as his female counterpart, his relationship with her waned: Cobain desired the maternal comfort of a traditional relationship which Vail regarded as sexist within a countercultural punk rock community. People whom dated Vail would be described by her friend Alice Wheeler as "fashion accessories." They would spend most of their time as a couple discussing political and philosophical issues. Cobain's experience of his relationship with Vail would inspire the lyrical content of numerous of the songs on Nevermind. When discussing topics such as anarchism and punk rock with friend Kathleen Hanna, she once spraypainted "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit" on his apartment wall. Teen Spirit being the name of a deodorant Vail would wear, that Hanna joked Cobain smelled like. Cobain however was unaware of this, and would interpret the slogan as having a revolutionary meaning, inspiring the title to the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

For his 14th birthday, Cobain's uncle gave him the option of a guitar or a bicycle as a gift - Cobain chose the guitar. He started by learning a few covers, including "Louie Louie" and The Cars' "My Best Friend's Girl", and soon began working on his own songs. During high school, Cobain rarely found anyone with whom he could play music. While hanging out at the Melvins' practice space, he met Krist Novoselic, a fellow devotee of punk rock. Novoselic's mother owned a hair salon and Cobain and Novoselic would occasionally practice in the upstairs room. A few years later, Cobain tried to convince Novoselic to form a band with him by lending him a copy of a home demo recorded by Cobain's earlier band, Fecal Matter. After months of asking, Novoselic finally agreed to join Cobain, forming the beginnings of Nirvana.
Early touring saw Cobain disenchanted, due to the band being unable to draw substantial crowds and difficulty in sustaining themselves. During their first few years playing together, Novoselic and Cobain were hosts to a rotating list of drummers. Eventually, the band settled on Chad Channing, with whom Nirvana recorded the album Bleach, released on Sub Pop Records in 1989. Cobain, however, became dissatisfied with Channing's style, leading the band to seek out a replacement and eventually settling on Dave Grohl. With Grohl, the band found their greatest success via their 1991 major-label debut, Nevermind.

kurt03_400Cobain struggled to reconcile the massive success of Nirvana with his underground roots. He also felt persecuted by the media, comparing himself to Frances Farmer. Then he harboured resentment for people who claimed to be fans of the band but who did not acknowledge or misinterpreted the band's social and political views. A vocal opponent of sexism, racism and homophobia, he was publicly proud that Nirvana had played at a gay rights benefit supporting No-on-Nine in Oregon in 1992, in opposition to Ballot Measure Nine, that if passed would have prohibited schools in the state acknowledging or positively accepting LGBT rights and welfare.

Cobain was a vocal supporter of the pro-choice movement, and had been involved in Rock for Choice from the campaign inception by L7. He received death threats from a small number of anti-abortion activists for doing so; with one activist threatening that Cobain would be shot as soon as he stepped on stage. The liner notes from Incesticide declared "if any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different colour, or women, please do this one favour for us-leave us the fuck alone! Don't come to our shows and don't buy our records". An article from his posthumously released Journals declares that social liberation could be made possible only through the eradication of sexism.

Courtney Love met Cobain, on January 12, 1990, in Portland's Satyricon nightclub when the two still led underground rock bands. Love made advances but Cobain was evasive. Early in their courtship Cobain broke off dates and ignored Love’s advances because he wasn’t sure he wanted a relationship. Cobain noted, "I was determined to be a bachelor for a few months [...] But I knew that I liked Courtney so much right away that it was a really hard struggle to stay away from her for so many months." Courtney Love first saw Cobain perform in 1989 at a show in Portland, Oregon; they talked briefly after the show and Love developed a crush on him.

Cobain was already aware of Love through her role in the 1987 film Straight to Hell. According to journalist Everett True, the pair was formally introduced at an L7 and Butthole Surfers concert in Los Angeles in May 1991. In the weeks that followed, after learning from Dave Grohl that she and Cobain shared mutual interests, Love began pursuing Cobain. In the fall of 1991 the two were often together and bonded through drug use.

Following a tour stop at Terminal Eins in Munich, Germany, on March 1, 1994, Cobain was diagnosed with bronchitis and severe laryngitis. He flew to Rome the next day for medical treatment, and was joined there by his wife on March 3. The next morning, Love awoke to find that Cobain had overdosed on a combination of champagne and Rohypnol. Cobain was immediately rushed to the hospital, and spent the rest of the day unconscious. After five days in the hospital, Cobain was released and returned to Seattle. Love later stated that the incident was Cobain's first suicide attempt.

On March 18, Love phoned police to inform them that Cobain was suicidal and had locked himself in a room with a gun. Police arrived and confiscated several guns and a bottle of pills from Cobain, who insisted that he was not suicidal and had locked himself in the room to hide from Love. When questioned by police, Love said that Cobain had never mentioned that he was suicidal and that she had not seen him with a gun.
Love arranged an intervention concerning Cobain's drug use that took place on March 25. The ten people involved included musician friends, record company executives, and one of Cobain's closest friends, Dylan Carlson. The intervention was initially unsuccessful, with an angry Cobain insulting and heaping scorn on its participants and eventually locking himself in the upstairs bedroom. However, by the end of the day, Cobain had agreed to undergo a detox program. Cobain arrived at the Exodus Recovery Center in Los Angeles, California on March 30. The staff at the facility was unaware of Cobain's history of depression and prior attempts at suicide. When visited by friends, there was no indication to them that Cobain was in any negative or suicidal state of mind. He spent the day talking to counsellors about his drug abuse and personal problems, and happily played with his visiting daughter Frances, the last she would ever see of her father. The following night, Cobain walked outside to have a cigarette, and then climbed over a six-foot-high fence to leave the facility (of which he joked of earlier in the day to be a stupid feat to attempt). He took a taxi to Los Angeles Airport and flew back to Seattle, on a flight where he sat next to Duff McKagan of Guns N' Roses. Even after the prior animosity from Nirvana to Guns N' Roses, and Cobain's own personal animosity to Axl Rose, Cobain "seemed happy" to see McKagan. McKagan would later say that he knew from "all of my instincts that something was wrong." Over the course of April 2 and April 3, Cobain was spotted in various locations around Seattle, but most of his friends and family were unaware of his whereabouts. He was not seen on April 4. On April 3, Love contacted a private investigator, Tom Grant, and hired him to find Cobain. On April 7, amid rumours Nirvana was going to break up, the band pulled out of that year's Lollapalooza music festival.

On April 8, 1994, Cobain's body was discovered at his Lake Washington home by an electrician who had arrived to install a security system. Apart from a minor amount of blood coming out of Cobain's ear, the electrician reported seeing no visible signs of trauma, and initially believed that Cobain was asleep until he saw the shotgun pointing at his chin. A suicide note was found, addressed to Cobain's childhood imaginary friend "Boddah", that said in part, "I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing . . . for too many years now". A high concentration of heroin and traces of Velum were also found in his body. Cobain's body had been lying there for days; the coroner's report estimated Cobain to have died on April 5, 1994.
A public vigil was held for Cobain on April 10 at a park at Seattle Center which drew approximately seven thousand mourners. Pre-recorded messages by Krist Novoselic and Courtney Love were played at the memorial. Love read portions of Cobain's suicide note to the crowd and broke down, crying and chastising Cobain. Near the end of the vigil, Love arrived at the park and distributed some of Cobain's clothing to those who still remained. Dave Grohl would say that the news of Cobain's death was "probably the worst thing that has happened to me in my life. I remember the day after that I woke up and I was heartbroken that he was gone. I just felt like, 'Okay, so I get to wake up today and have another day and he doesn't.'" While also believing that he knew that Cobain would die at an early age, saying that "sometimes you just can't save someone from themselves", and "in some ways, you kind of prepare yourself emotionally for that to be a reality.”  Dave Reed, who for a short time was Cobain's foster father, said that "he had the desperation, not the courage, to be himself. Once you do that, you can't go wrong, because you can't make any mistakes when people love you for being yourself. But for Kurt, it didn't matter that other people loved him; he simply didn't love himself enough."
A final ceremony was arranged for Cobain by his mother on May 31, 1999, that was attended by both Courtney Love and Tracey Marander. As a Buddhist monk chanted, his daughter Frances Bean scattered his ashes into McLane Creek in Olympia, the city where he "had found his true artistic muse."

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Abigail George2013-04-12 18:41:27
A beautiful, tortured soul who will never be forgotten for his genius. The gift that he gave to millions.

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