all about kurt cobain
although i'm sure most of you will already know about kurt and his life, we wanted to put up a page providing information on him for those who might not now, or those who are just recently discovering nirvana's music. we felt this was necessary after a trip to the "official" site. we found out that their idea of an information section is to put up a page with links to other [many now defunct] pieces of sites. And we figured, if that's the best that the official page can do, then that's pretty tragic. So we're just putting down the facts, and a few things about kurt. We hope you enjoy reading about our idol.
"We're just some guys playing music," Kurt Cobain once said about his group Nirvana's sudden rise to fame. Kurt, through his music, his lyrics, and his unequalled empathy, became Generation X's spokesman, as much as he despised it. Cobain provided both inspiration and controversy for his millions of fans, and non-fans alike.
Kurt Donald Cobain was born on February 20, 1967, in Gray's Harbor Community Hospital to Donald and Wendy Cobain. Wendy and Don had been renting a house in Hoquiam, but six months after Kurt's birth they moved to a house located at 1000 1/2 East 2nd Street in Aberdeen, Washington. Aberdeen was a small logging community full of rednecks.
Both Don and Wendy's families had been artistic, so it was no large surprise when kurt showed an interest in music around the age of two. His mother would play Beatles albums for him, and their influence would later show up in his music. For Cobain's seventh birthday he got a bass drum from his Aunt Mary, and he would often parade the sidewalk in his dad's tennis shoes, beating the drum and singing Beatles songs. When reminded of these times, Cobain would mention,
"I wanted to be Ringo Starr. But I wanted to be John Lennon playing drums."
It was around this time when kurt's relationship with drugs began. He was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and given the drug Ritalin. The Ritalin would keep him up for hours, so the doctors' prescribed sedatives so he could sleep.
Kurt was his parent's first child, and a sister, Kim, was born in 1970. He had seven uncles and aunts on his mothers' side, not to mention grandparents who would continually fight over his attention.
In the second grade, Cobain moved away from music and began to draw. Wendy noticed that he had a talent and urged him to continue drawing. One time Kurt even drew a picture that won a contest meant for fifth graders - he was only in his 2nd year. He was never happy with his art, however, and seemed to grow tired of it. Wendy has said that she believed that Kurt got burned out on art because it got crammed down his throat. Every gift was a new paint brush or paint set. He simply got sick of drawing for a while.
Soon after, kurt returned to every child's dream, being a rock star. he also loved Evel Knievel, and grew to be an aspiring stuntman. He was a normal, bright child, often being remarked on as being so excited every morning because there was a new day to be had.
His love of music came back again, and this time Don and Wendy bought him a Mickey Mouse drum set. Every day after school Cobain would bash away at the set, until one day it broke. During the third grade kurt began to take drum lessons, and he also began to play in the school band. Cobain never really learned to read music. He would wait until the kid in the first chair learned the music, and then he'd copy him.
In 1975, when Kurt was only eight years old, Don and Wendy Cobain filed for divorce. Wendy was tired of being home alone because Don was always out playing basketball, baseball, coaching in youth leagues, or refereeing games. Kurt took the divorce very badly, and he became depressed and withdrawn. Wendy thinks the divorce affected him for the rest of his life.
The reaction of a confused and hurt child, Kurt wrote "I hate Mom, I hate Dad, Dad hates Mom, Mom hates Dad, it simply makes you want to be sad," on his wall. Beside murals of the Kiss logo on his wall, he also drew caricatures of his parents, inscribing "Mom sucks," and "Dad sucks," above the appropriate drawing.
Soon after the settlement, Wendy got a new boyfriend who Kurt hated. he called him a "mean huge wife beater." At first Wendy thought it was only jealousy, but after five years she discovered that her boyfriend was a paranoid schizophrenic. It took her too long to realize that, however, and Kurt took out his anger on Wendy and his baby-sitters, who would often get locked out of the house. She grew tired of it and sent Kurt to live with his dad in Montesano.
Don lived in a prefabricated house in a trailer park. He bought Kurt a minibike and took him to the beach and on camping trips. Don gave Kurt the run of the house, but the happiness was soon disrupted. Don remarried in 1978. Kurt did not like his new step-mom, and picked on his younger step-brother and step-sister. To try to make Kurt feel better, Don got legal custody of him, but that only made things worse.
Kurt began to hang out with people he referred to as "stoner-guys." They were the crowd that smoked cigarettes, pot, and were into rock and roll big time. He gave them the run of Don's home, and they found Don's record collection. Through the stoner guys, Kurt discovered Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and black sabbath, which later became influences in his music.
Kurt caused many problems at Don's home, and Don soon gave up on his son. Kurt began to live on a merry-go-round between several sets of aunts and uncles, as well as grandparents. Cobain moved at least twice a year between Montesano and Aberdeen, changing schools each time as well.
Cobain's Uncle Chuck, who had been in a band, gave Kurt an electric guitar (with restrung strings so Kurt could play left handed) with a ten watt amp for his fourteenth birthday. Uncle Chuck also set up lessons for Kurt with Warren Mason, the same man who gave Chris Novoselic (the bassist for Nirvana) guitar lessons. Mason claims Kurt's goal was to play Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," but Cobain denied that statement in later years. In 1980, Kurt Cobain became obsessed with punk music, which became his career.
Kurt had undiagnosed stomach pains which affected him his entire life, but he also had other health problems not so well known. Along side his hyperactivity as a child, Kurt also had chronic bronchitis. In the eighth grade Cobain was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. As time went on, his guitar weight made the curvature worse, but if he had been right handed, it may have corrected the disease.
Kurt finally got his wish of recording some of his own material in 1986. Kurt and the Melvin's drummer, Dale Crover, recorded a ten-track demo under the name of "Fecal Matter." Kurt urged (Chris is a second generation Croatian, and has changed his name back to the original spelling of Krist) to listen to it, but nearly a year passed before he did. Cobain and Novoselic, with drummer Aaron Burkhart formed Kurt's first real gig-playing band. They played under names such as Ed Ted Fred and Skid Row before deciding upon Nirvana. Aaron was the first of nine drummers for Nirvana.
Back in Aberdeen, Kurt slept at someone else's house nearly every night. When he could find no one that would give him a couch, he would spend the night under a bridge that crossed the wishkah river. His thoughts at this time are immortalised in his song, "something in the way."
Kurt and Chris, along with anyone who would join them, often made graffiti raids on Aberdeen. Kurt, with his hate of rednecks and self-proclaimed "macho" men, would spray paint "Queer" on trucks. Several other statements, such as "God is Gay," were spraypainted around Aberdeen. Cobain was finally caught one day when he spraypainted "Homosexual sex rules" on the side of a bank. He was given a $180 fine, along with a 30 day suspended sentence.
In September of 1987, Kurt moved in with his girlfriend, Tracy Marander. Moving in with Tracy finally got Kurt out of Aberdeen, and a little bit closer to Seattle. She lived in Olympia, a larger college town, which helped Kurt to become a little sociable, and really helped with getting Kurt's music to the public. Nirvana had their first gig in Olympia, at GESCO Hall. The set contained a fair mix of Kurt's music and obscure cover songs, including "Love Buzz" and a Cher song. Nirvana, consisting of Cobain, Novoselic, and their eighth drummer, Chad Channing, signed on with the Seattle indie (independent) label, Sub Pop. They first released a single with the songs "Love Buzz" (a cover), and "Big Cheese" (a Cobain original). In 1988, the recording for a full length album began, and in 1989, Bleach was released. The studio time cost only $606.17, and in return for credit on an album he didn't play on, was paid for by guitarist Jason Everman.
To promote Bleach Sup Pop sent Nirvana on an American tour. It began in Seattle, covered the southern mid-west, then north to New York, and was supposed to hit other major mid-western cities on the way back to Washington. The midwest cities scheduled for the return trip had to wait to see Nirvana, however, because Jason Everman and Kurt had differences that led to a split. Kurt and the three-piece band cancelled the rest of the shows and returned to Seattle.
Soon after the bands return to Seattle, a European concert with the Sub Pop band TAD had been scheduled. While overseas, the band also made contact with their mentors, Sonic Youth. While in Europe, the total records sold for Bleach reached 35,000, and Sup Pop began to lean toward a long term contract.
Everything for the band was looking up when they returned from Europe. However, Kurt and Chris had decided that, although a very good drummer, Chad did not offer the type of sound that Nirvana needed. So, in 1990, Nirvana, for the ninth time, began looking for a new drummer.
Through mutual acquaintance with Cobain's old heroes, the Melvins, Dave Grohl was introduced to the band. He had been playing with the Washington, DC. indie band Scream, but it had recently disbanded. Grohl offered the heavy pounding on the drums that Kurt and Chris were looking for.
Nirvana had hoped Bleach would provide the band with some exposure, and it did get the attention of a couple major labels. Nirvana decided to attempt to find a major label that would buy out the rest of Sub Pop's contract with the band. They had recorded a six song demo with producer Butch Vig, and they sent copies to several labels. Nirvana eventually signed with DGC (Geffen Records) near the end of 1990, and received an advance of $287,000.
Cobain brought Vig back for Nirvana's first major label release eventually titled Nevermind. The cost of the recording, a lowly $135,000 by major label standards, greatly exceeded the price for Bleach. Nevermind was recorded at Sound City Studio in California, and contained songs such as "Lithium," "Polly," "Come as you are," "Something in the Way," and the song Kurt grew to hate as much as millions grew to love, "Smells like Teen Spirit." Nirvana wanted "Lithium" to be the lead-off song, but Vig chose "Teen Spirit" because he felt that it was "something special."
Nevermind was released on September 24, 1991, and it reached number one on January 12, 1992.
Speculation was given to several of the songs' meanings, but "Polly" was the only one Nirvana would easily elaborate on. It was a true story about a young girl who was abducted by men who tied her up and drove her around in their van. they tortured her (at times with a blowtorch) and raped her. She escaped them by pretending to enjoy the goings-on. Kurt found out about it through a newspaper article, and some comments were made about it's first person view of the rapist-storyline.
Soon after the release of Nevermind. Kurt Cobain met a punk rocker named Courtney Love in Portland. They met again in 1991, as Love re-introduced herself by punching Cobain in the stomach. Many began to make comparisons to Yoko Ono as Love more heavily influenced Cobain's life. There were heavy drug rumours surrounding the two, and even Love quoted, "We bonded over pharmaceuticals." They clicked, and from then on the two were inseparable.
Sometime around New Years, Cobain and Love discovered that Courtney was pregnant. They decided to get married. On February 24, 1992, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were married on Waikiki Beach. The service was performed by a non- denominational female minister that Courtney had found. Kurt wore a set of green and white check pajamas to his wedding.
Their daughter, born during drug scandals surrounding both parents, was declared perfectly healthy on August 8, 1992. She was born in the same Los Angeles hospital Kurt was detoxing in. frances bean cobain was about to become a major inspiration in both her parents' lives.
Two weeks after Frances' birth, Kurt and Courtney were forced to give custody of their daughter to Courtney's sister Jamie. For a full month after that, they could not visit Frances alone. Thousands of dollars that Kurt had made on Nevermind were used in a custody case. The government wanted to place Frances in a foster home due to an article in Vanity Fair that quoted Love as saying that she still used heroin and even smoked during her pregnancy. Love claims that she stopped both when she discovered she was pregnant, and that a doctor confirmed that heroin use during the first trimester would not damage the baby. Kurt and Courtney eventually won back the custody of Frances.
The custody battle forced Kurt to record a third album. They had been pushing for one, but he had been trying to slow down the process, however, now Cobain needed the money.
Twelve basic tracks were recorded in six days in the Pachyderm Studios, located in Minnesota. All of the vocals were done in one day. Kurt accomplished this with some assistance from a bottle of cough syrup. Kurt had planned to name his new album I Hate My Life and I Want To Die which was a joke aimed at the press coverage of his drug use, and his obvious physical deterioration because of it. Then, as a form of self-parody about the style of music Kurt had grown tired of playing, he named it Verse Chorus Verse. Kurt was talked out of that title, and the third Nirvana album became known as In Utero, a celebration of the beginning of life, instead of the end of it.
Although the songs were recorded in six days, arguments over the album prolonged its release for six months. Nirvana did not agree with the producer, Steve Albini's idea for the voice, which was quiet and hard to make out. Albini eventually put Cobain's voice on top of the music instead of under it, but several disagreements remained about the music itself. Cobain argued for the musical style, which some viewed as sloppy, but Cobain said that Nirvana's music meant freedom, and that it did not matter if a performance was sloppy as long as it had passion. After it was released, however, Cobain feared the songs were too "mushy." Regardless, In Utero debuted at number one on the Billboard charts on September 21, 1993.
On November 18, 1993, Kurt Cobain, Chris Novoselic, and Dave Grohl, along with new rhythm guitarist Pat Smear appeared on Mtv's Unplugged. They played an acoustic set that featured many of Nirvana's slower, more melodic songs. Cobain played the song "Pennyroyal Tea" completely by himself, and cracked, "I guarantee you I'll screw this one up." The set also included six cover songs such as David Bowie's "The Man who sold the World." Every cover song dealt with fame, death, or both.
In January of 1994, Kurt and Courtney purchased a new house in Seattle. The 1.1 million dollar house was located on 171 Lake Washington Boulevard East.
On January 8, 1994, Nirvana played its final U.S. show at the Seattle Center Arena. After that they embarked on a major European tour.
Nirvana played its last concert on March 1, 1994, at the Terminal Einz in Munich. Three songs into the concert, Kurt lost his voice. He saw a doctor and was told to rest for four weeks.
He flew back to Rome and checked into the Excelsior on March second. Kurt sent a bell-boy to purchase Rohypnol for him. He also ordered two bottles of champagne for Courtney's visit to his hotel. After Love fell asleep, Kurt unwrapped and swallowed fifty pills. He fell into a coma from which he did not awaken until March fifth. It was reported to be an accidental overdose, but may have actually been a first suicide attempt.
On March thirtieth, two things happened. First, Kurt, and his friend Dylan Carlson, purchased a Remington twenty-gauge shotgun under Carlson's name. Then, later on that day, Kurt Cobain boarded a plane for Los Angeles. Once there he checked into the Exodus Recovery Center to try one last time to detox from heroin. After only two days, Cobain scaled the walls of the center and flew back to Seattle.
On April 4, Wendy O'Connor (she was remarried by then) filed a missing person report. She received one final phone call from her son on April 3, then he disappeared.
On April 8, 1994, electrician Gary Smith stumbled upon Cobain's body. Kurt had shot himself in the head. He was all alone when the gun went off, but the sound rang through the minds of millions.
To this day kurt is remembered as a punk rocker who led the grunge revolution. It's important to know that he wasn't perfect.. his life can provide a learning experience for many. There's no more articles, controversy, or gossip. All we've got left is the memories and the music... which is the way kurt would have wanted it.
Suicide prevention and awareness
Help with depression