Kurt Donald Cobain
birth place: Hoquaim, Washington, USA
The totemic front-man of early-nineties grunge band, Nirvana, Kurt Cobain was born in the small town Hoquaim, Washington State, on 20th February 1967, and he moved, at an early age, to the nearby logging town of Aberdeen. Cobain’s parents divorced when he was aged seven, and he subsequently had a turbulent childhood, staying with relatives and reputedly spending periods living, as he was later to immortalise in one of his lyrics, under a bridge.
Cobain’s early influences included the Sex Pistols and Joy Division; at the age of fourteen, he bought his first guitar, and began listening to Seattle punk bands, whilst acting as a roadie for local group The Melvins. After playing in a series of unsuccessful outfits, Cobain dropped out of High School, and formed Nirvana in 1986, with his friend Kris Novoselic on bass and Chad Channing on drums.
The trio recorded their first album, 1989’s 'Bleach' on the independent label Sub-Pop, over three days, for the princely sum of six hundred dollars. Dave Grohl soon replaced Canning on drums, and such was their success that the band’s contract was bought out by Geffen in 1991.
Their second album, 1991’s 'Nevermind', catapulted Nirvana to world-wide fame, most notably with the success of the single 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', the lyrics of which had been inspired by Cobain’s reading of Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 novel, 'Gravity’s Rainbow', and which spawned countless imitators. Cobain had unwillingly, and rather unwittingly, created a new musical genre and philosophy: grunge.
However, despite his meteoric rise to stardom, Cobain became increasingly isolated from his success, and it was in context of his new-found fame that he became addicted to heroin, an addiction that was to plague him for the rest of his life. In 1992, Nirvana released 'Incesticide', a compilation of B-sides and rarities. Meanwhile, Cobain married Courtney Love, who was already pregnant with the couple’s child, Francis Bean Cobain.
Nirvana returned to the studio to record their fourth album, the Steve Albini produced 'In Utero' (1993), which was released to rave reviews. In November 1993, the band recorded a legendary MTV Unplugged set, followed by a European tour. In March 1994, Cobain made an unsuccessful suicide bid, and was persuaded to book into rehab in L.A. However, he booked himself out after several days.
Kurt Cobain was found dead from a self-inflicted shotgun wound in his apartment, on 8th April 1994. The coroner’s verdict was suicide, and estimated time of death some two days previously. Cobain’s death spawned an outpouring of grief from fans, ensuring his place as a rock icon, a cathartic image which often overshadows the lasting achievement that is his musical legacy.