"Kurt Cobain and the End of Grunge," by Nominay

Kurt Cobain, 1994, and the End of Grunge

by Nominay

The 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death this past April was given some media attention, and this triggered untapped feelings in me. When he died, I was not much bothered by it personally, although I was 20 at the time and liked Nirvana. But now that 20 years has gone by, I miss him and am finally grieving over his passing.
No one else has really ever represented my generation. That’s not to say that Kurt Cobain was the spokesperson of a generation, as his popular image in recent years has suggested. Indeed, he was tagged with this title even before his death. One prominent media figure said that at the very least he was his generation’s most somber poet laureate. That’s closer to the truth, but American youth demographics have been broad for quite long a time.
Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, and grunge, did not appeal so much to blacks, Hispanics, and the whites who loved country music. But for those of us who had been turned on by punk rock and then alternative rock, Kurt Cobain became our ambassador to the mainstream. He was not a star (as his contemporaries Chris Cornell, Layne Staley, and Scott Leiland were), he was an icon that not even his rival Eddie Vedder could hold a flame to.
For a short time, in the form of Seattle punk rock, my generation was given a voice, culturally. For Kurt Cobain, however, this was not such a sweet renaissance. For a number of reasons, he took the extraordinary step of killing himself. For years, those reasons had stirred like a cauldron within him. Millions were left wondering what those reasons really were, and how he got to that point. Over years of research, the answers have surfaced. It happened in 7 weeks that swiftly spiraled out of control.
Up through January of 1994, things had been about as usual as they could be for Kurt Cobain (if his life could ever have been described as usual). For months, he had been stoked on the record he had made with his band. As Nirvana’s songwriter, Kurt saw it as artistic vindication over their groundbreaking Nevermind album which he had been dissatisfied with. As a proud punk rocker who obsessed over artistic integrity, Kurt had been self-critical over anything that could be perceived as “selling out.” He was irritated over what he saw as the slick production of Nevermind, and for this reason didn’t see his songs as having stood on their own true merit.
When Nevermind‘s follow up, In Utero, came out in the fall of 1993, Kurt seemed as close to happy as he’d been since childhood. By the end of 1993 however, his strength was sapping, the effects of years of abuse on his psyche and body. Still, as the In Utero tour careened through America through the new year, his spirits remained up in the promotion of the album. The final US tour dates, on the 7th and 8th of January, found him in his hometown of Seattle, and by all reports, he was in a good mood.
In spite of having nearly a month to regroup before the start of Nirvana’s European tour, from the outset of February, Kurt resisted having to go on tour, but the pressures of rock stardom cajoled him into it.
For the first week in Europe, Kurt was fine, but as week one turned into week two, something went seriously awry. In the accumulation of stress brought on by fame, the obligations of his career, and the additional responsibilities that came with being a new father and husband, Kurt had grown more dependent on heroin in the past year.
All this was in addition to the litany of medical problems he had suffered over the years – from scoliosis to agonizing stomach pains – all of which led him to use heroin to begin with. Now his heroin dependency was exploding in his face. Stuck in Europe with little recourse to sustain his habit, drug withdrawal ensued. Hard drug withdrawal by itself can be excruciating and for Kurt, it was. His health issues added only more potency to it as he could not dull their symptoms without the heroin.
Meanwhile, it was becoming undeniable to Kurt that his wife, Courtney, was falling out of love with him. Kurt had a profound love for Courtney, but she saw him as choosing heroin over her. And as if this weren’t enough to exacerbate his condition, he caught wind that she was having an affair. In phone calls to each other from overseas, they already had not been getting along. Now, the fighting intensified.
Signs of desperation peppered dates leading up to his demise. The band’s photo shoot on February 13th was made unnerving by Kurt’s antics. On February 25th and again on the 27th Kurt requested to end the tour (he was rebuffed outright by band and management). On March 1st, after playing in Munich, Kurt quit the tour.

On March 4th, while on break in Italy, Kurt intentionally overdosed on a massive amount of Rohypnol, and although it didn’t kill him, it probably left him brain damaged. Back in Seattle, on March 18th, Courtney called the cops, claiming Kurt was threatening suicide. Officers were dispatched to the Cobain residence where they confiscated Kurt’s guns along with a bottle of unidentified pills.
On March 25th, a heavy intervention was staged by Kurt’s band, management, wife, and best friend. The band threatened to disband, and Courtney threatened to walk out on him with their two year old daughter, Frances. March 30th saw him checking into Exodus Recovery Center in Los Angeles. Then, on the evening of April 1st, Kurt escaped Exodus and took the next flight back to Seattle.
For the next 3 days, Kurt wandered around Seattle on a heroin binge, and on the 5th of April, he shot himself.

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48 thoughts on “"Kurt Cobain and the End of Grunge," by Nominay”

  1. Great recap. I was in 12th grade when I heard the news and I was absolutely floored. I was a big Nirvana fan and they really in ways were the soundtrack to my high school years. The next rock star death that devastated me was the heroin overdose of Shannon Hoon, front man of Blind Melon, one of my fav rock bands of all time. That one effected me even more than Cobain. So much lost potential. I wonder how these artists would’ve evolved through the years. Sadly, with great creative talent often come minds too complicated and souls too tortured.
    RIP Kurt.

    1. Amen brother!
      and in the words of Hoon himself…
      “All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
      I like watchin’ the puddles gather rain
      And all I can do is just pour some tea for two and speak my point of view
      But it’s not sane, It’s not SANE…”
      RIP Kurt
      RIP Hoon

    2. Amen brother!
      and in the words of Hoon himself…
      “All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
      I like watchin’ the puddles gather rain
      And all I can do is just pour some tea for two and speak my point of view
      But it’s not sane, It’s not SANE…”
      RIP Kurt
      RIP Hoon

      1. That song is just incredible. Their followup album Soup didn’t get the same acclaim that the first did, but I think that was some of their best work. Reminds me of some really good times. It’s almost painfully nostalgic to listen to. Did you know Blind Melon reunited a few years ago with a new singer? I didn’t really like the new music though.

        1. There’s nothing like the originals. The video’s also incredibly beautiful. Its just so apt. Sends a strong message… There’s nothing wrong in being different… away from the mainstream. The post just made me nostalgic! I grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s – I’d give anything to go back. You feel me bro… 🙂

    3. I was bummed out on Shannon Hoon’s death too, and unlike Kurt Cobain, I did not at all see that one coming. But Hoon was beautiful and underappreciated. The thing with Kurt .. writing about him here at the exclusion of Hoon, Layne Staley, and a few other grunge-related overdoses … he resonated with alienated, frustrated and bored youth in the vein of Jim Morrison and John Lennon … his celebrity was such that it captured the imagination of the public at large. Kurt’s troubles, through his songwriting, rubbed off as our troubles. His were amplified as reflected through the dramatic episodes that played out during his career. And the caliber of his songwriting and talent was phenomenal. Somehow our society had more meaning with him in it, to me anyway. Nirvana’s music seemed to have kept at bay, the phony trash which came after them, and before them.

  2. As I recall I was in the 11th grade and was on a school trip when Cobain died in 1994. I was just plain shocked. All that talent, all that aura, all that angst… completely lost! Its such an enormous void musically and I can’t believe it was 20 years ago. Holy crap! just realized I’m old! An outspoken leader for us Gen X-ers!!

  3. Oh shit. This was a rough draft .. and it wasn’t even the final rough draft … this is sub-par literary form. Damn … one part of this was not even accurate … Kurt flipped out within the first 48 hrs, in Europe. An initial week of calm didn’t go by. I don’t know what happened that January when the American leg ended, but it was like the opposite of having his batteries recharged.
    Fuck. Maybe in a couple years, we can repost this piece as it was intended.

  4. Cobain’s suicide was certainly a tragedy. I don’t really know of any way to describe it other than that. One particular friend of mine at the time was quite upset when he heard the news. I didn’t really start listening to Nirvana’s music until about a year after he died.
    I liked Nirvana and bought three of their albums (if their MTV Unplugged CD counts as an album), but I think they were overrated. Their lyrics were mostly meaningless, and Cobain himself stated as much outright. And I know it’s blasphemy, but their best songs, in my opinion, were really on the good side of mediocre in terms of listening pleasure. On top of all that, Smells Like Teen Spirit, the one song for which they’re best known, isn’t even one of their better ones.
    One thing I cannot understand is why only two or three of their songs ever get any play on the radio. Smells Like Teen Spirit and All Apologies are all you ever hear, but I would love to be surprised with Heart-Shaped Box or On a Plane. God forbid they ever do something rash by playing Very Ape or Breed.

    1. Alice in Chains was more my speed. A good deal of their lyrics made sense, and I liked the more aggressive sound. At least you knew right off the bat that Them Bones was about fear of death.

      1. Alice and Chains was more my speed too. I always thought them superior to Nirvana, but that was me comparing Nevermind to Alice and Chains catelog. Recently I familiarized myself with In Utero, and that proved that Cobain could measure up to Alice in the goth, punk/metal hybrid dept.
        SOME of Nirvana’s songs have meaningless lyrics, but even those come from a cryptic, apathetic place that suggests more depth than mere randomness. Kurt overplayed the whole “meaningless lyrics” thing. The majority of his songs were anything but, and have well known stories about their meaning. They are too many to list.

    2. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is definitely a hallmark of greatness. It is true that Nirvana fans get past that song and connect with many others that were not singles. SLTS was also one of those songs famous for its non apparent meaning. What Nirvana proved is that music does not have to always depend on lyrical strength. They rode the tidal wave of success on the strength of their sound alone, which is an almost unparralled measure of success among the serious, great rock acts. In April, they were inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame. They sold 70 million records. Their record came out from nowhere to change the societal landscape. They have several other compelling distinctions. For whatever reason, Alice and Chains did not achieve this level of acclaim. They are defnitely underrated.
      “One thing I cannot understand is why only two or three of their songs ever get any play on the radio. Smells Like Teen Spirit and All Apologies are all you ever hear, but I would love to be surprised with Heart-Shaped Box or On a Plane. God forbid they ever do something rash by playing Very Ape or Breed.”
      It’s like this with all pop acts. Some great artists are never heard from again altogether. The radio blows, and has for a long time.

      1. “It’s like this with all pop acts. Some great artists are never heard from again altogether. The radio blows, and has for a long time.”
        Damn skippy. If I knew anyone in the business, the first question I would ask them is why Jack and Diane and Cherry Bomb haven’t been banned. Haven’t we suffered enough?

      2. Speaking of all that, no wonder everyone thinks eighties music is shit. Even some of the New Wave stuff was at least pleasant, but no one knows about it because it’s never played – ever. A lot of now-obscure songs that wouldn’t win a Grammy are still great simply because the singer had a really good voice. Iva Davies comes to mind.

        1. Totally unrelated, but I’ve been meaning to ask you for a long time …. there is a “Stealth” at the Cryptomundo site, who believes the bigfoots are closer to the gorillas and orangutans than they are to humans. Is this you?

  5. Kurt did not kill himself. Courtney had him killed. Even Courtney Love’s Father says this and there’s a videotape of El Duce (from the band The Mentors) saying Courtney offered him $50,000 to kill Kurt. Don’t believe me? Watch this movie.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_%26_Courtney
    You can find the movie on the web. Courtney is a psychopath. Kurt was going to divorce HER not the other way around. Look at how everyone with long term exposure talks about her. Her Father. Boyfriend. She’s a spath. She got away with it because the media, Hollywood and music business is filled with psychopaths that covered for her. I believe she said she was Jewish also which would account for her psychopathy.

    1. This is the standard line from pro conspiracy believers. I once wondered the same. But once I began studying his life, it quickly became clear to me that there was no evidence to support the hypothosis of Courtney killed Kurt – just hearsay. El Duce was not a reliable witness. Yeah, he passed a polygraph, but guess what – socios and psychos are good at passing those, in spite of their lies. Also brought into question in recent years is the reliability of polygraphs … that they are not as effective in making out liars as has been previously thought.
      Regarding your anti-semitism … Courtney’s mother was adopted, and the mother is not Jewish. Neither was Courtney’s biological father. Courtney’s dad had character issues, which would explain why he accused his own daughter of being a murderer. The motive was money, and he did write a book about her. In the divorce papers, the judge ruled that Courtney’s father could never see her again. This was when she was 2. As for Courtney’s psychological disorders, she began having behavioral problems at 4 years of age, while Courtney’s mother ignored her. Eventually, due to abandonment and overall negligence, Courtney sought emancipation, and was granted emancipation at 15 years of age. This is why she spent her childhood as a hellraiser, not because she was Jewish, you dope.
      This is the problem when people are not educated. The look at Courtney Love, and on the basis that she is not a likable person, they convince themselves that she is a monster. When you actually study, in detail, Kurt Cobain’s life however, he clearly and easily fits the profile of someone who is psychologically predisposed to kill himself. But there are fans who, because of their love for Kurt, are in denial about all this. They like seeing the nice Kurt, the friendly Kurt, the one who seemed positive and reasonable … unfortunately this was not the dominant side of who he was.

        1. Novoselic said Kurt was only casually liberal, but he was certainly liberal on the social front, specifically with regard to gays.

  6. I did not believe Kurt was killed until I saw the movie. Didn’t even occur to me. The movie could be wrong but the interviews in it are illuminating. Courtneys step father and boyfriend have a reaction to her exactly like the people on love fraud who talk about psychopaths in their lives. Her own daughter got a restraining order against her. She has the typical behavior of a less controlled psychopath.
    El Duce’s video testimony is incredibly damaging. He says on tape, “Courtney offered me $50,000 to kill Kurt”. El Duce is a scum bag but I can think of no reason he would make up something like that. Not to mention a few days after he gave the interview he, conveniently, was found dead on a railroad track.
    The detective Courtney hired is completely convinced she did it. Maybe he’s wrong but he was heavily involved in checking it out.
    I’m actually not an anti-semite. I’m anti-Jewish. I’m anti-Jewish for the same reason I don’t hang around with Black people. Their behavior. As for Courtney being Jewish you can take that up with her. She says she is.
    http://www.jewishjournal.com/hollywoodjew/item/courtney_love_enters_the_tribe_20090128
    Whether you believe he was killed or nor it is a decent documentary if you like Nirvana.

    1. Courtney is not Jewish by bloodline. Whether Jewish genes were transmitted to her by osmosis I cannot say, but the creater of “Kurt and Courtney”, Nick Broomfield, has since disowned his work, no longer believing that Courtney killed Kurt.

      1. I remember this I was 14 that time and was shattered at that time. Kurt was like a demigod those days.To see himfuck his own life this way with drugs was really lame.i agree his disturbed personal relationship with Courtney wrecked him completely. Sam’s jew obsessed conspiracy postings about Kurt beingmurdered are really lame. Courtney is not Jewish. Kurts death did throw some light on the massive drug epidemic among celebrities though.

        1. Jew Conspiracies
          “Adopted grandmother was a Jew” Oh of course the guy’s wife killed him from being an Irish-German heroin addict who sang about blowing his head off with a shotgun for years because…they were Jews.
          Dave Grohl was a Jew and so was the owner of the label putting out Cobain’s records…they were in on it to so that Cobain could stop selling records and making them money.
          I mean, damn.
          This is the same reason that OJ killed a Jewish waiter who stumbled upon him hacking his German-American ex wife’s head off and got away with it. It’s a pure Zionist conspiracy to allow Negros at white women.

        2. JONATHON
          Most of these celebrities at that time actually starting doing drugs in the seventies when they were in their early teens and drugs were so prevalent.
          Kurt Cobain had been doing heroin since he was at least 18 in 1985 and starting smoking pot at 12.
          I think that celebrity drug use has actually declined in the last 20 years.

        3. Jonathon
          Apology. Kris Novolselic was the Croatian Jew in Nirvana.
          He and Love of the Jewish adopted grandmother in her bloodline clearly conspired to kill Cobain because of his Irish-German Catholic background.
          Clearly he was selling to many records for them and they needed this to stop.
          I’m sure his record label, also probably owned by a Jew, participated in the murder in order prevent Cobain from making him more money.
          How clear does it have to be? Its a Zionist conspiracy.

        4. TRASH, drugs were always there since the days of Beatles but Kurt’s death brought a lot of attention to celebrities’ drug usage. Maybe Sam would call it a massive Jew conspiracy. May be many pure blooded Nordic celebrities unwittingly took substances trusting their Jewish managers as some nutritional supplements.

      2. “Jewish by bloodline”
        Good Gosh, Courtney’s adopted grandmother was a JOOO. It must be a Zionist conspiracy!
        So was Cobain’s band Dave (Of the Foo Fighters) and the owner of his record label.
        Presumably they were in on this staged suicide in order to stop making money from the records Cobain was selling because they were Jews and he was a German-Irish Christian.
        Yep, it was all a Zionist conspiracy.

  7. …the Zionist Conspiracy
    Irish-German heroin addict Kurt Cobain was killed by Jews because Courtney Love’s mother was adopted by Jews! Since-gasp!-his label was owned by a Jew and his band mate was a Jew (Dave whatever it was of the Foo Fighters) presumably they wanted him to stop selling records.
    Jews want white women and black men to get it on and that is why OJ killed the Jewish waiter fetching his German-American trophy wife’s sunglasses.
    Jews control Big Oil and the GOP which is why Jewish politicians are all flaming left-wing liberals.
    Jews want their daughters to do porn (I think half of them are Jews) in order to destroy the Christian family with pictures of Ruthie with a 12 inch black penis dribbling jizz into her mouth.
    Jews can get away with murder and that is why Joel Rifkin, Son of Sam and every other Jewish serial killer is caught and convicted by non-Jews.
    Jews wanted world war and that is why anti-war demonstrators are (Abbie Hoffman, Sanders) are all Jews.
    Yep, folks, it is all a Zionist conspiracy.

    1. Black cocks in Daddy’s precious angel and cucks being kicked in the nuts by Dominatrixes and blacks – is not a social scheme to get even by Jews or some weakness among whites – particularly so-called wussy liberal SJW types.
      It’s just entertainment, people. 😆 It has shock value. That’s what porn addicts want because – like with drugs, they want more of a high. Note, soon seeing titties, the stuff 14-year-old boys go into a frenzy about – isn’t enough.

    2. Well, actually Jews do want to get even with Porn, but the fact remains, that due to the nature of porn – where people want bigger and bigger shocks – the Jews get what they want.

    1. Honestly grunge bands aren’t that appealing. If not for some songs by Nirvana and Soundgarden the genre wouldn’t have had much of an impact. on retrospect,I believe even Nirvana were overrated as observed by stealth. Kurt’s brilliance made the band and the genre died along with him.

      1. Jonathan, have you donated? Not sure if you have or not. New policy is all regular commenters have to donate. Minimum $10 and you can comment for life! Is that a deal or what? If that is a hardship, let me know and we will see what we can do.
        Thank you for your cooperation.

  8. FRIENDS and the improving of economy of the 1990’s pretty much ended the grunge era.
    To be honest the entire nihilistic and cynical grunge thing was unpopular by the time Clinton created the Go-Go era of the mid-1990’s.
    It was hard to be depressed in 1997 at the height of prosperity in the late 20th century.
    Foo Fighters stretched on a few years.

  9. Heroin was to Grunge what weed was to Gangsta Rap.
    They sang about it, loved it, defined themselves by it.
    Part of this was a reaction to the drug of choice of glam bands and the Reagan Era-cocaine.

  10. How Seattle Changed Society in 1991
    Grunge was only popular for two years but after 1989 but what we recognized today did not exist before 1991
    Tattoos
    These were regarded as the mark of lower middle-class barbarity by middle-class people as late as 1988. Criminals and low-class people had tattoos and women who had them were assumed to be hardcore sex workers or biker chicks. No clearer mark of social demarcation existed.
    70’s nostalgia
    The seventies did not really end until 1982-flares, disco, long hair, huge belt buckles, butterfly collars. But for the next ten years they were despised. People forget the 70’s were a traumatic time people did not want to remember.
    Bisexuality
    In 1989 two girls seen kissing would be the most despised pupils in a school.
    Self-harm
    People did not slash their wrist until the 1990’s.
    Piercings
    They were rare on males. Nobody had a nose piercing and women did not know where there clitoris was, much less to pierce it.
    PC
    Faggot was a popular word until 1991. PC hit the world in 1992. But this added some mystique to the socially-despised: Times Square, gay districts etc.
    Republicanism
    This was hated by working-class whites. No working-class white admitted voting Republican. This in particular is the most amazing trend-Michael Moore types voting GOP. You saw a guy in 1989 dressed like him and working for GM you knew he was a democrat.

  11. The comment section here has become so asinine that Robert might want to consider removing the post. It’s not that good a piece anyway.

  12. JASON
    I’m simply saying that the world looked different before Grunge. Political Correctness was sort of a by-product of the era.

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