Tuesday, April 5, 2011

17 Years Later - The Kurt Cobain Story

In all of rock and roll I don't think that there is a more tragic story then the story of Kurt Cobain, who took his life 17 years ago today. 

Kurts problems started in childhood, he was a sickly bronchitic kid. Matters were made worse when his parents divorced when he was seven and by his own account Cobain said he never felt loved or secure again. He became increasingly difficult, anti-social and withdrawn. After his parents divorce Cobain found himself shuttled back and forth between various relatives and at one stage homeless living under a bridge. 

When he was eleven he heard and found the Sex Pistols and after their self-destruction Cobain and friends continued to listen to the post-punk band and many say that he created Nirvana to be directly decending in form of mood, melody and lyrical quality from the Pistols. 

Cobain was the genius behind Nirvana a band that completely changed the game for music in the late 1980s early 1990s. After signing with a major label the band found breakthrough success with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from its second album Nevermind (91). Then everything started to go downhill fast.

The band was labeled "The flagship band" of my Generation X, and Cobain as its spokesman. One problem, Cobain was often uncomfortable and frustrated, believing his message and artistic vision to have been misinterpreted by the public, with his personal issues often subject to media attention. During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with an intense 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. They soon welcomed a daughter Frances Bean Cobain. 

In early 1993 In Utero was released into the top spot in the music charts. It was widely acclaimed by the music press and it contains some of Cobain's most passionate work. The album was a lot more open than Nirvana's previous albums. Songs like "All Apologies" and "Heart Shaped Box" detailed aspects of Cobain's sometimes shaky marriage, other songs like "Scentless Apprentice" detailed the agonies and struggles of Cobain's experiences. 

After the release of the album his struggles with his addiction continued. He was in and out of the hospital, back and forth between detox programs but nothing seemed to work. Again he seemed to be on the wrong end of a losing battle. His wife even staged an intervention on March 30th. 

Yet after leaving the program and disappearing into the night, Cobain lost touch with his family and went into hiding. He was last seen in the Seattle area with a shotgun. Days later on the 5th of April Kurt Cobain went into the small room above his garage and ended it all. 

His body was found a few days later when an electrician visiting the house to install a security system was walking around and when nobody answered peered in the windows and found Cobain. He also found his suicide note, which ended with the words "I love you, I love you." Two days after Kurt Cobain's body was found about 5,000 people gathered in Seattle for a candlelight vigil. The distraught crowd filled the air with profane chants, burnt their flannel shirts and fought with police. 

Kurt Cobain was 27.

In the years since his death, Cobain has been lionized by some, demonized by others, and he's been made into all sorts of things by the press. The father of grunge; the depressed, sucicdal genius; the rock star with a power hungry wife; the sad rock star who got in over his head. David Fricke from Rolling Stone even called him the closest thing to my generations John Lennon. 

And that is the tragic story of Kurt Cobain. May you rest in peace.

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