If you grew up in the 90s, odds are, you’re familiar with bands like Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and of course, Nirvana. Considered as one of the pillars of grunge and alternative rock, Nirvana – especially their frontman Kurt Cobain – made waves with their angst-filled lyrics, heavy guitar sounds, and authenticity.
Kurt Cobain: Early Years
Born on February 20, 1967 in Aberdeen, Washington, Kurt Donald Cobain was the son of Wendy Elizabeth and Donald Leland Cobain. He has a younger sister, Kimberly, who won’t be born until 1970. Cobain grew up surrounded by music and music lovers – his uncle, Chuck Fradenburg, used to be in a band, and his artistic pursuits were encouraged by his grandmother.
Cobain exhibited talent for music as early as two years old, when he would sing. By four, he can play the piano and he also wrote a simple song. However, his bright, excitable demeanor changed when his parents divorced when he was nine. From then on, his mother described his personality as ‘defiant and withdrawn’.
Aside from music, Cobain also showed a knack for drawing. In fact, it was through art and electronics classes that he met Roger ‘Buzz’ Osborne, who would be the singer and guitarist of the Melvins. Osborne was the one who introduced him to the world of punk rock.
Although his loved ones would later say that the first concert he ever attended was Sammy Hagar and Quarterflash, Cobain’s journals revealed that it was a free performance of the Melvins that he considered to be his first ever concert.
Music and Career
Cobain was always musically-inclined. One of the first bands he got into in 1985 was a ‘joke band’ they named Fecal Matter. He played together with Dale Crover and Greg Hokanson. They played original content as well as covers (especially songs from Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and The Ramones), until they disbanded a year later.
He met Krist Novoselic, a fellow punk rock fan, while hanging out at the Melvins’ practice space. Cobain eventually convinced Novoselic to form a band with him after letting him listen to a home demo by Fecal Matter. After going through a string of drummers, the band finally met Chad Channing. This was the beginnings of Nirvana.
Their first album, Bleach (1989), didn’t get plenty of attention. Cobain fired Channing and replaced him with Dave Grohl. With Grohl as the drummer, they recorded their second album and major-label debut, Nevermind (1991). Their single, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ quickly went mainstream and the rest, they say, was history.
Nirvana would later produce more hits, including: Heart-Shaped Box, Come as You Are, All Apologies, About a Girl, Aneurysm, Love Buzz, and Drain You.
Personal Life and Death
While he became successful with his music, Cobain struggled with his personal life. He dated a bit until he reconnected with Courtney Love, then lead vocalist of the alt rock band, Hole. They wed in 1992 and had a daughter, Frances Bean, that same year.
Their relationship however, was unsteady to begin with. Throughout the remainder of his life, Cobain and Love will have disputes and arguments, all while he fought against substance dependence. In 1993, during a tour in Europe, Cobain overdosed and fell into a coma. But he wasn’t the same even after they went home.
On April 5, 1994, at 27 years old, Kurt Cobain dies after leaving a long suicide note. His body was found days later by electrician, Gary Smith. Reports say that his body contained heroin and Valium.
Great Kurt Cobain Quotes
Considered as one of the best and most influential musicians and songwriters of our time, Kurt Cobain has left behind not only a legacy, but also his story of struggle. You don’t need to be a 90s baby to appreciate good music. Whether you’re a fan or not, may you find a silver lining in these Kurt Cobain quotes.
- “I use bits and pieces of others personalities to form my own.” – Kurt Cobain
- “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I’m worse at what I do best.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Life is a waste of time and time is a waste of life, so let’s all get wasted and have the time of our lives.” – Kurt Cobain
- “We have no right to express an opinion until we know all of the answers.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I don’t need to be inspired any longer, just supported.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Dreaming of the person you want to be is wasting the person you already are.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I just hope I don’t become so blissful I become boring. I think I’ll always be neurotic enough to do something weird.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Life isn’t nearly as sacred as the appreciation of passion.” – Kurt Cobain
- “The sun is gone, but I have a light.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I mean I like to be passionate and sincere but I also like to have fun and act like a dork. Geeks unite.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I don’t care what you think unless it is about me.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I started to be really proud of the fact I was gay even though I wasn’t.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I would like to get rid of the homophobes, sexists, and racists in our audience. I know they’re out there and it really bothers me.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Before I die many will die with me and they’ll deserve it. See you in Hell.” – Kurt Cobain
- “We’re so trendy we can’t even escape ourselves.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Forever in debt to your priceless advice.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Birds scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don’t speak bird.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Thank you for the tragedy. I need it for my art.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Practice makes perfect, but nobody’s perfect, so why practice?” – Kurt Cobain
- “If you’re really a mean person you’re going to come back as a fly and eat poop.” – Kurt Cobain
- “There’s good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I knew I was different. I thought that I might be gay or something because I couldn’t identify with any of the guys at all. None of them liked art or music. They just wanted to fight and get laid. It was many years ago but it gave me this real hatred for the average American macho male.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I was tired of pretending that I was someone else just to get along with people, just for the sake of having friendships.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I bought a gun and chose drugs instead.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self esteem.” – Kurt Cobain
- “It’s okay to eat fish because they don’t have any feelings.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I had a really good childhood up until I was nine, then a classic case of divorce really affected me.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I won’t eat anything green.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Rather be dead than cool.” – Kurt Cobain
- “The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Nobody dies a virgin…Life fucks us all.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Music is first, lyrics are secondary.” – Kurt Cobain
- “Because there is nothing in the world I like more than pure underground music.” – Kurt Cobain
- “At this point I have a request for our fans. If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us — leave us alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.” – Kurt Cobain
- “You know what I hate about rock? I hate tie-dyed tee shirts. I wouldn’t wear a tie-dyed tee shirt unless it was dyed with the urine of Phil Collins and the blood of Jerry Garcia.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.” – Kurt Cobain
- “If it’s illegal to rock and roll, throw my ass in jail!” – Kurt Cobain
- “I’m so happy because today I found my friends – they’re in my head.” – Kurt Cobain
- “A friend is nothing but a known enemy.” – Kurt Cobain
- “If you ever need anything please don’t hesitate to ask someone else first.” – Kurt Cobain
- “No True Talent is fully organic. Yet the superior talented have not only control of study but that extra special, little gift at birth – fuelled by passion.” – Kurt Cobain
- “I really haven’t had that exciting of a life. There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life. So I pretty much like to make it up. I’d rather tell a story about somebody else.” – Kurt Cobain