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         N   I   R   V   A   N   A



Formed 1987, Aberdeen, Washington

Kurt Donald Cobain a.k.a. Kurdt Kobain - born  Feb. 20, 1967, Hoquiam, Wash. - died  April 5, 1994, Seattle, Wash. - vocals, guitars.
Krist Anthony Novoselic aka. Chris Novoselic - born May 10, 1965, Compton, Calif. - bassist
Chad Channing - born Jan. 31, 1967, Santa Rosa, Calif. - drums.
Jason Everman - guitars. 

Nirvana is widely credited with bringing the sound and spirit of late-Seventies punk rock to a mainstream pop audience. In 1992 the Seattle-based trio took the angry, nihilistic message of the Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the U.K." to #1 with its own sarcastic blueprint for frustration, "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The bandís reign was tragically cut short two years later, on April 5,1994, when leader Kurt Cobain took his life following at least one earlier suicide attempt and severe bouts with drug addiction, a chronic stomach ailment, and depression. He was 27.

Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic grew up in Aberdeen, Washington, a small logging town 100 miles southwest of Seattle. When Cobain was eight, his secretary mother and auto mechanic father divorced, leaving him constantly moving from one set of relatives to another. As a child beloved the Beatles, but by nine he discovered the heavier music of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Kiss. Cobain met the 6-foot-7-inch Novoselic, son of a local hairdresser, through mutual friend Buzz Osborne of the Aberdeen band Melvins. Osborne introduced them to the hardcore punk of Black Flag and Flipper.

In 1987 Cobain and Novoselic, both of whom had long felt alienated from their working-class peers, formed Nirvana and started playing parties at the liberal Evergreen State College in nearby Olympia. The following year, Seattle independent label Sub Pop signed the band and released its first single, "Love Buzz" b/w "Big Cheese." Nirvanaís debut album, Bleach, recorded for $606.17, came out in 1989 to kudos from the underground rock community; it sold an initial 35,000 copies, which is considerable for an indie-label release. The next year Nirvana put out another Sub Pop single, "Sliver" b/w "Dive," and recorded six new songs (including "Smells Like Teen Spirit") with producer Butch Vig. Although opposed to major labels in principle, the band claims it shopped the songs to bigger companies in hopes of getting the message of punk to a larger audience.

A major-label bidding war ensued, with DGC ultimately offering the group a $287,000 advance (rumors had it at $750,000). With Nevermind, Nirvana succeeded in getting punk to the populace on a grand scale: After an initial shipment of 50,000 copies, the record kept selling, eventually bumping new albums by Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks, U2, and Hammer from the top of the chart. Nevermind ultimately sold ten million copies worldwide, and produced another hit, "Come As You Are" (#32, 1992).

By early 1992 the groupís success was biting back. As "Smells Like Teen Spirit" continued climbing up the charts, Cobain began bemoaning the groupís meteoric rise, worrying that fans were missing the point of Nirvanaís antiestablishment message. Simultaneously his new relationship with Courtney Love, singer of the underground band Hole [see entry], had become a hot topic in the gossip columns. The couple married on February 24. When Love became pregnant with Cobainís child and was quoted in a Vanity Fair article as admitting she had used heroin during the pregnancy, news of the coupleís alleged drug addiction hit the media fan. Scrutiny of the Cobain/Love affair reached a level of intensity met in the pop world only by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, or the ill-fated punk couple Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. On August 18, 1992, the Cobains delivered a healthy, seven-pound baby, Frances Bean. After a battle with childrenís services in Los Angeles, which challenged the Cobainsí parental fitness based on Loveís comments in Vanity Fair, the couple was granted custody of the child. Amid the chaos, Nirvana released Incesticide, a collection of early singles and outtakes. Beginning in spring of 1993, a series of events occurred that foreshadowed the demise of Cobain and Nirvana. On May 2, the singer overdosed on heroin at his Seattle home. The following month, he was charged with domestic assault after Love summoned the police during an argument over Cobainís gun collection. On July 23, Cobain overdosed again, this time in the bathroom of a New York hotel room before a Nirvana show at the Roseland Ballroom.

On September 21, Nirvana released In Utero, which debuted at #1 and ultimately produced the modern-rock radio hits "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies." On January 8,1994, Nirvana performed what would be their last American concert at the Seattle Center Arena. On February 2, the band departed for a European tour, but after a series of shows in France, Portugal, Italy, the former Yugoslavia, and Germany, decided to take a break, during which Cobain remained in Rome.

At 6:30 a.m. on March 4, Love found Cobain unconscious in the coupleís room at Romeís Excelsior Hotel, the result of an overdose of the tranquilizer Rohypnol. At first it was deemed an accident, but later reports confirmed the existence of a suicide note. Cobain remained in a coma for 20 hours. When the Cobains returned to Seattle, things took a turn for the worse. On March 18, police arrived at the Cobain home again after the singer locked himself in a room with a .38-caliber revolver, threatening to kill himself. On March 30, Cobain checked into the Exodus Recovery Center in Los Angeles, but fled on April 1, after telling staff members he was going outside for a smoke. On April 8, he was found dead in a room above the garage of the coupleís Seattle home, the result of a self-inflicted 20-gauge shotgun wound to his head. For weeks afterward, fans, the news media, MTV, and radio mourned his death with specials about Nirvana and the generations they inspired. In November 1994 MTV Unplugged in New York (#1, 1994), an album of the acoustic show taped in 1993, was released.

Following Cobainís death, Novoselic spent most of his time as an advocate for various political and social causes. Grohl started a band, the Foo Fighters, which included guitarist Pat Smear, who played on Nirvanaís last tour. For the bandís self-titled album, released in 1995, Grohl sang lead, played guitar, and wrote all the songs.




KURT COBAIN



Kurt Cobain was born on the 20th of February 1967 in Hoquaim, a small town 140 kilometres south-west of Seattle. His mother was a cocktail waitress and his father was an auto mechanic. Cobain soon moved to nearby Aberdeen, a depressed and dying logging town. Cobain was for most his childhood a sickly bronchiotic child. Matters were made worse when Cobain's parent's divorced when he was seven and by his own account Cobain said he never felt loved or secure again. He became increasingly difficult, anti-social and withdrawn after his parent's divorce. Cobain also said that his parent's traumatic split fueled alot of the anguish in Nirvana's music.


After his parent's divorce Cobain found himself shuttled back and forth between various relatives and at one stage homeless living under a bridge. When Cobain was eleven he heard and was captivated by the Britain's Sex Pistols and after their self-destruction Cobain and friend Krist Novoselic continued to listen to the wave of British bands including Joy Division the nihilistic post-punk band that some say Nirvana are directly descended from in form of mood, melody and lyrical quality.


Cobain's artistry and iconoclastic attitude didn't win many friends in high school and sometimes earned him beatings from "jocks" Cobain got even by spray painting "QUEER" on their pick-up trucks. By 1985 Aberdeen was dead and Cobain's next stop was Olympia. Cobain formed and reformed a series of bands before Nirvana came to be in 1986. Nirvana was an uneasy alliance between Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic and eventually drummer and multi-instrumentalist Dave Grohl
By 1988 Nirvana were doing shows and had demo tapes going around. In 1989 Nirvana recorded their rough-edged first album Bleach for local Seatlle independent label Sub-Pop.


In Britain Nirvana received a lot of recognition and in 1991 their contract was bought out by Geffen, they signed to the mega-label, the first non-mainstream band to do so. Two and a half years after Nirvana's first C.D. Bleach was released they released Nevermind, a series of different, crunching, screaming songs that along with it's first single Smells Like Teen Spirit would propel Nirvana to mainstream stardom.


Smells Like Teen Spirit became Nirvana's most highly acclaimed and instantly recognizable song. Not many people can decipher it's exact lyrics but Cobain used a seductive hook line to hook the listener. Nevermind went on to sell ten million copies and make a reported $550 million (US) leaving Nirvana overnight millionaires. Cobain was shocked at the reception of his highly personal and passionate music repeatedly telling reporters that none of the band ever, ever expected anything like this. It quickly became obvious that the obsessively sickly and sensitive 24yr old was not going to cope well with the rock'n roll lifestyle. "If there was a rock star 101 course, I'd really have like to take it," Cobain once observed. Cobain fell into heroin in the early 90's, he said he used it as a shield against the rigorous demands of touring and to stop the pain of stomach ulcers or an irritated bowel. Through the touring and pressure Cobain continued to write his very personal acutely focused lyrics.
Cobain was distressed to find out that what he wrote and how it was interpreted could quite often be miles apart. He was appalled when he found out that Polly a heavily ironic anti-rape song had been used as background music in a real gang-rape. He later appealed to fans on the Incesticide liner notes "If any of you don't like gays or women or blacks, please leave us the f*** alone." It was to no avail, Cobain found that as an overnight millionaire musician control was something he had very little of. Cobain also worried that his band had sold-out, that it was attracting the wrong kind of fans. 


In February 1992 Cobain skipped off to Hawaii to marry the already pregnant Courtney Love. Later in the year Nirvana released Incesticide and in August Cobain had hospital treatment for heroin abuse. Shortly after Frances Bean Cobain was born. In early 1993 In Utero was released into the top spot on the music charts. In Utero was widely acclaimed by the music press and it contains some of Cobain's most passionate work. In Utero was a lot more open than Nirvana's previous albums. Songs like All Apologies and Heart Shaped Box detailed aspects of Cobain's sometimes shaky marriage, other songs like Scentless Apprentice detailed the agonies and struggles of Cobain's experiences.


Nirvana embarked on a support tour and recorded and filmed an "unplugged" (acoustic) performance for MTV in November of 1993. Nirvana's choice to honor bands and people that had influenced them and Cobain's passionate and intense vocals especially on "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" silenced many of their who had labeled Cobain talentless. Rumors circulated that the MTV Unplugged compilation would be Nirvana's last album and the band were splitting up.


Cobain was a gun fanatic and always had several in his possession or in various forms of confiscation. In the northern winter of 1993-94 Nirvana embarked on an extensive European tour. Twenty concerts into the tour Cobain developed throat problems and their schedule was interrupted while he recovered. While recovering Cobain flew to Rome to join his wife who was also preparing to tour with her own band.


On March the 4th Cobain was rushed to hospital in a coma after an unsuccessful suicide bid in which he washed down about fifty prescription painkillers with champagne. The suicide bid was officially called an accident and was not even made known to close friends and associates. Several days later he returned to Seattle. Cobain's wife, friends and managers convinced Cobain, who was still in deep distress to enter a detox program in L.A. According to a missing person's report filed by his mother Cobain fled after only a few days of the program.


Cobain was cited in the Seattle area with a shotgun. Days later on the 5th of April he barricaded himself into the granny flat behind his mansion, put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. On Thursday April the 7th ~ two days after a medical examiner says Cobain shot himself and the day before his body was found police say Courtney Love herself was taken to hospital in L.A. for a drug overdose. Released on bail, Love checked herself into a rehab center but left soon after a friend called her the next day with news of Cobain's death.


Cobain's body was found when an electrician visiting the house to install a security system went round the back of the house when no one answered the front door and peered through windows. He thought he saw a mannequin sprawled on the floor until he noticed a splotch of blood by Cobain's ear. When police broke down the door they found Cobain dead on the floor, a shotgun still pointed at his chin and on a nearby counter a suicide note written in red ink addressed to Love and the couples then 19 month old daughter Frances Bean.


The suicide note ended with the words "I love you, I love you." Two days after Kurt Cobain's body was found about 5,000 people gathered in Seattle for a candlelight vigil. the distraught crowd filled the air with profane chants, burnt their flannel shirts and fought with police. They also listened to a tape made by Cobain's wife in which she read from his suicide note. Several distressed teenagers in the U.S. and Australia killed themselves. The mainstream media was lambasted for it's lack of respect and understanding of youth culture.



THE ALBUMS

1989 -- Bleach (Sub Pop) (- Everman); Blew EP (Tupelo)
1990 -- ( - Channing; + Dave Grohl [b. Jan. 14, 1969, Warren, Ohio], drums)
1991 -- Nevermind (DGC)
1992 -- Incesticide
1993 -- In Utero
1994 -- MTV Unplugged in New York

 

 

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