The life of a rock star starts out with just a few
lyrics scribbled on a piece of paper. With the added help of a
good voice, sound, hard work, and determination, someone can
become very successful in the competitive rock industry. Among
the successful, hardworking artists in this industry are Little
Richard, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and the Sex Pistols. Kurt
Cobain also can be included with these rock legends. Kurt
Cobain’s life in music is supported by great talent, hardship,
Kurt Cobain was born on the 20th of Febuary 1967 in
Abertine, Washington. When Kurt was only seven years old his
mother and father divorced. Following the divorce, Kurt was
moved between various family members and friends. As this
constant moving got to be unbearable, he started to spend the
nights sleeping below a bridge (immortalized in the song
“Something in the Way”) at the end of his road. Here, Kurt’s
time was spent writing his earliest lyrics(“The Life”).
School life was not much easier on Kurt Cobain either.
Unlike most boys, Kurt had little interest in such things as
football and other sports. Instead, he enjoyed painting and
singing. Therefore, much of his time at school was spent with
the girls(“Biography”). For this, Kurt did not have many friends
at school. Many thought he was either strange or bisexual, so he
alienated himself from other people(“The Life”).
Kurt Cobain was not always alone though. Before he was
famous, Kurt lived with Tracy Merander (immortalized in the song
“About a Girl”) for three years in Seattle. During this time,
most of Kurt’s talents, such as painting and sculpting, were
created for her. Tracy was said to be Kurt’s “only true
Then Kurt met Courtney Love, who quickly became an important
part of Cobain’s life. They married 24 January 1992 in Wakiki,
Hawaii. Six months later their daughter Frances Bean was born
(“Biography”). Their relationship seemed to be great, but people
who where much closer to them said the relationship was
troublesome. It was obvious to them that Courtney was “playing
on his Kurt’s sensitvity” (“The Life”).
Another important aspect of Kurt Cobain’s life is his music.
Kurt showed an interest in the arts at a very early age. He
received his first guitar on his fourteenth birthday, and by the
time he reachred fifteen, Kurt knew how to play. His musical
influences were from bands like the Beatles and the Monkees to
bands like Led Zepplin, Black Sabbeth, and AC/DC. Kurt’s music
was a mixture of heavy metal and 80’s punk. It would later be
known as grunge.
Kurt Cobain’s first band, which was not very
successful, held the name Fecal Matter. With his friend Chris
(Krist) Novaselic, Kurt formed the band Nirvana in 1986. In 1988
Kurt, Krist, and drummer Dave Grohl went to Seattle to make a
demo at Reciprical Recording Studios. This demo later led to a
record deal with Sub Pop records. On 11 June 1988 they released
their first album Bleach, produced under the Sub Pop record label
After the release of their first album, Nirvana toured the
United States. Eventually, they performed their first European
concert in Newcastle. The next year Kurt Cobain and Nirvana
decided to change record companies from Sub Pop to Geffen
Records. In 1991 Nirvana signed a contract and started another
album titled Nevermind (“Biography”).
As Nirvana became more famous the stress increased on Kurt.
Cobain was constantly being protected by guards, so he had little
contact with his close friends and family. It even got to the
point were they were unable to talk to Kurt on the phone. His
music was the only thing that kept him from cracking under all
the pressure of fame. This was slowly wearing away though (“The
In 1993 Nirvana recorded In Utero, which was their last
album recorded in studio. Because of the title of the song “I
Hate Myself and I Want to Die,” later removed, it took six months
to release this album.
“In the beginning of 1994 Nirvana played an MTV unpluged
concert, and they played what was to be their final concert in
Munich 29th Mars 1994.” After Kurt’s death, Nirvana released
their Unplugged in N.Y. album (“Biography”).
The next aspect of Kurt Cobain’s life was his struggle with
drugs. Kurt had become addicted to heroin and morphine. Cobain
tried to get his friends and family to believe he was going to
get some help and that his drug use was under control. This was
not true, but with Nirvana’s success many of Kurt’s lawyers,
agents, and friends were scared to try to help him (Jones,
Fleming, and Rossi 68).
While at a seminar in July of 1993, Kurt overdosed on
heroin. Courtney tried to save him by injecting him with some
illegal drug. Later that day Kurt played at a concert without
any problems (“Biography”). Then while touring, Kurt had an
“accidental” overdose in Rome of March 1994. Just prior to
that event, Cobain had entered a drug-rehabilitation program in
California (O’Reilly 373). Kurt soon left, thinking he did not
belong there (“Biography”). He went back to Seattle where he
then shot himself (O’Reilly 373).
Kurt Cobain was found dead on the morning of 8 April
1994(“Biography”), when an electrician came to install a security
system in Kurt’s home. When no one answered the door, the
electrician then tried to find someone by looking through the
windows. What he found was a man lyiny on the floor (Handy 70).
The police found Kurt on his back on the floor of his house.
The gun’s position and the head trauma made it clear that the gun
was fired upward into Cobain’s mouth (“The Death”). Also, lying
on a nearby table was Kurt’s suicide note (Handy 70).
The suicide note, written moments before Kurt’s death,
portrays Kurt’s feelings moments before he pulled the trigger
(“The Death”). In the note Kurt writes:
Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous
stomach for your letters and concern during the past
years. I’m too much of an erratic, moody baby! I
don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s
better to burn out than to fade away (qtd.in “The
Though Kurt Cobain did not reach the age of thirty, he
became known as a legend like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim
Morris. All were twenty-seven when they died (“Biography”).
On the announcement of Kurt Cobain’s death, the world sat
in disbelief. For days the media reported on Kurt’s suicide. On
the 9th of April 1994 CNN reported:
The music world stood still today, in disbelief, as
news of the horrific death of rock star Kurt Cobain
eco’d around the world. The 27 year old front man of
the band Nirvana was discovered dead yesterday at his
luxurious Seattle residence, after a self inflicted gun
wound to the head. Cobain’s wife Courtney Love, who is
currently in Paris, is said to be devistated at the
news of her husbands death (qtd. in “The Death”).
Kurt’s fans held a candlelight vigil to morn his death.
Afterwards, a twenty-eight year old man shot himself in what
appeared to be a copycat suicide. Cobain’s fans did not support
the fact that Kurt commited suicide, but still supported him as a
rock legend. “Some spoke predictably of having lost their voice,
their poet of disenfranchisement.” There were a few fans who did
not want to accept ” their idol twisted into a generational icon,
a kind of hip destiny” (Jones, Fleming, and Rossi 68).
The president of Geffen Records spoke out to comfort
Cobain’s supporters. ” The world has lost a great artist and
we’ve lost a great friend. It leaves a huge void in our hearts.”
This statement was true for all of Kurt’s fans. If only someone
had heard the “rambling” at Kurt’s home. “Long before there was
a void in our hearts, there was a void in Kurt Cobain’s” (Giles
et al. 67).
To many of his fans Kurt was a hero. His music led him to
be called “the voice of a generation” (O’Reilly 373). Kurt
Cobain will never be forgotten. His music will always live on,
and hopefully, others will learn from Kurt’s tragic end.