Kurt Donald Cobain was born on February 20, 1967 in Hoquaim, Washington. His
auto mechanic father and cocktail waitress mother relocated their family to the small logging town of Aberdeen, Washington
not long after he was born. Shortly after the birth of his younger sister Kim, his parents divorced and Kurt moved in and
out of the houses of
various relatives. With little contact with his parents and the frequent moves, along
with his chronic respiratory illness, the seven-year-old Kurt became anti-social and withdrawn.
As a teenager,
Kurt was drawn to punk and heavy metal music; the Melvins, The Sex Pistols and Joy Division were a few of his favorite bands.
Cobain managed to finish high school despite being a social outcast and moved to Olympia shortly after graduating with childhood
friend Krist Novoselic. Kurt worked a variety of odd jobs, from a
janitor to a lifeguard, but the only thing
he stuck with was music. In 1986 Cobain and Novoselic started Nirvana with drummer Chad Channing and they soon began to play
locally. Their signature punkish music spread throughout the region and eventually took on the name “grunge.”
In 1989, Nirvana recorded “Bleach”, their debut album, under Sub Pop records. In 1990 Channing
left Nirvana for undisclosed reasons and two more drummers passed through before the band found a good match. After David
Grohl became the permanent drummer, Nirvana released “Nevermind” and the band shot instantly to stardom. The hit
single from the album, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” became the theme song for the early nineties generation and
the album sold over ten million copies and earned over $550 million in United States sales alone.
success put a large strain on Cobain. Already emotionally fragile, Kurt started worrying about how his how music was being
received and he hated how uncontrollable his future was. Kurt still carried the respiratory illness from his childhood, added
with a severe
stomach ulcer and colon problems he developed after stardom, his fame and fortune did nothing for
the misery inflicted upon him by his poor health. Cobain succumbed to the pain in the early 1990s and began using heroin.
On February 24, 1992, Kurt married his pregnant girlfriend Courtney Love, frontwoman of the punk band Hole, in
Hawaii. On August 18, Frances Bean Cobain was born and less than a week after, “Incesticide” was released. Also
that August, Kurt was hospitalized for heroin abuse.
In September, things starting looking up for Kurt. Nirvana
played at the MTV Music Awards, where they received two awards, Best Alternative Video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
and Best New Artists. In 1993, Nirvana realized their high acclaimed album “In Utero.” The lyrics to the
songs revealed the personal side of Kurt Cobain, displaying his struggles and hardships through life. Nirvana also completed
a session for “MTV Unplugged” in November of 1993 and began a European tour that winter. The band canceled the
tour after twenty shows though, due to Cobain’s
On March 4, 1994, Kurt Cobain took
fifty sleeping pills with a bottle of champagne and was rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment. The incident managed
to stay out of the media and was ruled an accident although it was obviously not. Cobain checked into a rehab clinic in Los
Angeles immediately after his release from the hospital, but he only stayed a few days. On April 5, 1994, an electrician saw
what he thought was a mannequin in the guest house but soon discovered it was the body of a young man.
left a long suicide note addressed to his wife and daughter explaining that he could not handle his life any longer. Rumors
circulated that Love had arranged Cobain’s death, but there was no truth to them. Kurt’s death hit his multitude
of adoring fans heavily, three of them committing suicide themselves.
Nirvana made a large impact on the concept
of popular music, wiping out the teen bop sound of the 1980s and bringing underground music to the mainstream. The sound of
Nirvana was fresh and original and it came along right when the times were in need of change. “...Remember, it’s
better to burn out than fade away,” Kurt stated in his suicide letter, but it seems unlikely that he or his music will
do either anytime soon.