News Nostalgia: Let’s Talk About The Death of Kurt Cobain
In 1987, a band called Nirvana was formed by singer & guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington. While they went through a few drummers, the one who stuck was Dave Grohl, who joined forces with the duo in 1990 – a few years after the band had become part of the Seattle grunge scene.
After the 1991 release of their album Nevermind and a lot of media attention on their first single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, the band gained a lot of notoriety – Cobain was soon being referred to as “spokesman of a generation”. By the end of 1991, Nevermind was selling 400,000 copies a week in the US. Their second major label release, In Utero, came out in February of 1993 and went on to sell over 3.5 million copies. Despite their success, the band wasn’t truly happy with the polished sound that both albums contained.
In early 1994, the band embarked on a European tour. Three days after a concert in Germany, Cobain’s wife Courtney Love found Cobain unconscious in their hotel room, based on a reaction to prescription rohypnol and alcohol. The band decided to cancel the remainder of the tour, but Cobain didn’t get any better – in fact, his addiction to heroin resurfaced shortly after, and he was admitted into rehab.
After less than a week in, Cobain climbed over the wall of the facility and took a plane back to Seattle. A week later – on April 8th, 1994 – he was found dead of a reported self-inflicted shotgun wound, by Veca Electric employee Gary Smith, who saw his body while on site to install security lighting.
Despite the fact that it was ruled a suicide, many had theories about his death. Tom Grant, an investigator hired by Love, believed that he was murdered (despite the fact that a note was left).
In the toxicology report, a quote from Dr. Randall Baselt of the Chemical Toxicological Institute stated that Cobain’s heroin level was “a high concentration, by any account,” which made people believe that he’d be too drugged up to adequately be able to pull the trigger on himself. Grant believed this theory, and also believed that his suicide note was more about his intent to leave Love and Seattle, than his intent to kill himself. He also noted that the pen and paper didn’t contain his DNA (yet since they were covered with soil, it could be likely that this evidence could be erased.)
A main suspect, according to Grant, was Michael “Cali” DeWitt, who was the nanny for Cobain and Love’s child, Frances. Cali traveled to Rome with them during Cobain’s first overdose, and left a note for Cobain on April 7th that Grant found on the staircase:
Grant felt it was possible that the note was written after the fact, so it’d look like Cali didn’t know of Kurt’s whereabouts – after knowing he was dead.
Love wasn’t innocent in this whole endeavor. In fact, her first husband, James Moreland of the indie rock band The Leaving Train, was quoted as saying that if he stayed married to Love, he likely would have “wound up like Kurt, shoving a shotgun down my throat… She was always threatening me with violence and loved the idea of paying someone else to do her dirty work.”
While suicide is still the major conclusion, the case still gains a lot of interest. Dave Grohl moved on to start Foo Fighters, and Krist Novoselic formed two bands with one album each, and played in punk band Flipper. He’s also been politically active, writing a weekly column on music and politics for Seattle Weekly’s website from 2007 to 2010.
When asked about the state of Nirvana, Grohl said the following:
Do you remember the death of Kurt Cobain? How do you think Nirvana has affected music today?
Image Credits: datejesus.com (note), fanpop.com (featured)