Rock Hero: Kurt Cobain
One person stands out as the poster child of the early 1990`s alternative US rock scene. Kurt Cobain the lead singer and guitarist of Nirvana was the recording artist who could never come to terms with his own success and paid the ultimate price for it. The old rock cliche of live fast and die young could be used to cover the story of Kurt Cobain but in truth that would be a lie. Cobain was not your conventional rock god like Axel Rose, Gene Simmons or Ozzy Osbourne. Kurt Cobain was not a man who craved the media attention or its spotlight, how ironic in death his image is used as a pop cultural icon when he never believed he was popular.
Kurt Cobain was born in Aberdeen, Washington State on February 20th 1967. His talent as an artist was evident from an early age, he would accurately draw his favorite characters from films and cartoons. He also took an avid interest in music and by the age of four, Cobain started playing the piano and singing. By the age of 8 his parents decided to split up, this lead Kurt to become withdrawn and anti-social. For the rest of his childhood he alternated living between his parents, but never feeling truly welcome or settled at either. On Cobain's 14th birthday his uncle gave him the option getting his own guitar or a bicycle . Fortunately Cobain chose the guitar. He started by learning a few covers, and soon began working on his own songs. At high school, a frustrated Cobain rarely found anyone with whom he could play music as his tastes did not fit in with his fellow students. While hanging out at a practice space, he met Kris Novoselic a fellow fan of punk rock. Cobain and Novoselic would occasionally practice in the upstairs room of a hair salon. A few years later, Cobain tried to convince Novoselic to form a band with him by lending him a copy of a demo recorded by Cobain's earlier band, Fecal Matter. After months of asking, Novoselic finally gave in and agreed to join Cobain, forming the the embryonic Nirvana.
- Bleach (1989)
- Nevermind (1991)
- Incestercide (1992)
- In Utero (1993)
- MTV Unplugged (1994)
- Muddy Banks of Wishkah (1996)
By 1988 Cobain and Noveselic has settled on the name Nirvana, Cobain chose the name Nirvana over the "Angry Samoans" as he wanted something that sounded the opposite to the music they played. The one problem Nirvana had was they could not find a drummer they were happy with. By the end of 1988 they had gone through several drummers before opting for Chad Channing. 1988 saw Nirvanna release their first single on the Subpop label and through the singles success they recorded their debut album Bleach in 1989. Bleach gained a good following off the back of National College radio play, but the band were no closer to hitting the heights of the charts. By 1990 Chad Channing was fired as drummer and David Grohl auditioned for Nirvana after his rock band split. Grohl was hired immediatley and rehearsals for their new album Nevermind were about to begin.
By 1990 Nirvana had signed a new record deal with DGC records and become label mates with Sonic Youth. DGC records hoped that Nirvana's new album would sell 250,000 records when Nevermind was finally released in 1991 it was topping 400,000 albums per week. Part of the records success was the amount of airplay " Smells like teen spirit " received from MTV and College Radio. On the back of Nevermind's success, Cobain married Holes lead singer Courtney Love in 1992, By the end of the year Love gave birth to Cobain's baby girl. Cobain's health was of serious concern to band mates, record executives and the music press. Cobain had suffered throughout his adult life with stomach problems and the only way he could escape his condition was through drug abuse. In the summer of 1992 Nirvana played the Reading festival and were superb, many feared the band were on the verge of splitting up or they would not pull off a high profile show. In December 1992 Nirvana released "Incesterside" as a collection of rarities and B-sides, work was to start on the follow up to Nevermind very shortly .
For the next album Cobain insisted that the sound of the band should be simply be natural, raw and without loads of studio trickery. The sessions with Producer Steve Albini were productive and quick, the album was recorded and mixed in two weeks. Nirvana where not entirely happy with the outcome as they were not happy with the bass levels, Nirvana got REM's Producer Scott Litt to redo two songs as Cobain did not think the tracks sounded perfect. "In Utero " went in at number one on the Billboard album chart in September 1993, fans were pleased that the Nirvana sound did not go mainstream but commercially "In Utero" did not capture the heights of Neverminds success. Two months later Nirvana recorded a live unplugged session for MTV, The performance was awesome but little did the audience know how much Cobain was suffering.
1994 did not start off well for the band as Cobain was diagnosed with bronchitis in Germany, it is also speculated that he attempted to end his life with prescription drugs and alcohol later on in Italy. This lead to numerous tour dates been cancelled on the European leg of the tour. By mid-March Cobain's drug problems reappeared and after an intervention Cobain admitted himself to a clinic. After a week in rehab Cobain scaled the complexes walls and caught a plane to Seattle. On the 8th April 1994, Cobain's body was found having turned a shotgun on himself. With this a talented but troubled man died and another rock star became a musical and cult icon.
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