Who is Kurt Cobain?

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  • Written By: A.E. Jaquith
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Kurt Cobain (20 February 1967 - 5 April 1994) was an American musician who, through his grunge band Nirvana, had a profound impact on rock music in the early 1990s. In the midst of his rock stardom, Cobain committed suicide. Although the injury resulting in death was a gunshot blast, prior to firing the gun, Cobain injected himself with more than a lethal dose of heroin.

Kurt Cobain spent the early years of his life living in Aberdeen, Washington, until his parents divorced when he was eight years old. Like many young children subjected to divorce, the event had a lasting impact on his life. Friends and family noted that after the divorce, Kurt became more withdrawn.

Kurt Cobain experienced the confused and awkward teenage years that many teenagers do, and eventually sought solace in the Seattle punk music scene. Early bands that influenced Cobain's musical style included The Melvins and The Pixies. It is during his teenage years that Kurt Cobain began experimenting with illegal drugs, beginning with marijuana and escalating to LSD.

After several attempts to form successful bands, Cobain eventually teamed up with bass guitarist Krist Novoselic to create the earliest incarnation of Nirvana. For a large portion of Nirvana's history, the band sported Chad Channing on drums, until Cobain became upset with Channing and kicked him out. The band eventually chose Dave Grohl, an talented drummer who later became lead singer and front man for the band The Foo Fighters.


As Nirvana slowly found success, Cobain began to experiment seriously with heroin use. On 24 February 1992, Kurt Cobain married Courtney love, a fellow musician and lead singer for the rock band Hole. Many Nirvana fans were critical of Love, and believed that she was merely using Kurt Cobain as a means to gain her own degree of stardom. Regardless, Cobain stated that he was madly in love with Love.

Kurt Cobain was an outspoken critic of the mainstream music industry, both prior to and after his success with Nirvana. He believed that major record labels promoted anything they believed would sell, and gave little regard to the quality of the music. This belief, combined with the immense mainstream success of Nirvana, is believed by many to be the primary factor in Cobain's suicide. In his suicide letter, Cobain stated that he no longer enjoyed writing or performing music, and hadn't for a long time.

Some believe that Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain, although she was in a rehabilitation facility for heroin at the time. After Cobain's death, a memorial service was held at Seattle Center attracted several thousand mourners. During the service, a pre-recorded message featured Courtney Love reading sections of Cobain's suicide letter.


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