Kurt Cobain: 15 facts about the Nirvana legend
22 February 2020, 19:30 | Updated: 19 February 2021, 18:03
The late Nirvana frontman's birthday was on 20 February - let's mark the occasion with some stories from his eventful life.
Kurt started singing at the age of two.
By the age of four, he’d written a song about a trip to the park.
Kurt has a sister, Kimberly
Kimberly is three years younger, born on 24 April 1970.
Kurt was arrested a couple of times as a teenager
The first was for spraying graffiti on the wall of a bank in 1985, including the immortal phrase:”Ain'T goT no how waTchamacalliT”. The second was for walking across a roof “while intoxicated” in May 1986 - and here’s the mug shot. Bad Kurt.
Kurt worked for a period as a swimming instructor for pre-school kids
Cobain’s journals also revealed that his CV consisted of very little: “maintenance, basic odd jobs, carpet cleaning”. Could this gig have inspired the cover of Nevermind?
The first gig Kurt went to was a terrible hair metal band
Although he later went around claiming that his first concert was the cult favourites The Melvins or punk legends Black Flag, several friends say Kurt’s first gig was actually poodle rocker Sammy Hagar and his band Quarterflash at the Seattle Center Coliseum in March 1983.
Kurt loved Close Encounters
As a young teenager, Kurt loved the Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and could recite the dialogue off by heart, even copying Richard Dreyfuss’s obsessive mashed potato sculpting from the film.
Nirvana originally had several awful band names…
Some of the names that Kurt and his colleagues originally traded under included Pen Cap Chew, Ted Ed Fred, Skid Row (later picked up by a New Jersey rock band) and the charmingly-titled Fecal Matter. Thankfully, they settled on Nirvana. Who’d want FECAL MATTER across their t-shirt?
Kurt liked the Sex Pistols more than The Clash
According to his Journals, while the first punk album he bought was The Clash’s Sandinista, he preferred the music of John Lydon and co. He said that the Pistols were “one million times more important than The Clash”.
Krist Novoselic didn’t go to Kurt and Courtney’s wedding
The bassist and his wife Shelli Dilley weren’t part of the eight person guest list when Kurt and Courtney tied the knot in Hawaii on 24 March 1992 because Novoselic thought the Hole frontwoman was a bad influence on Cobain. Their daughter Frances Bean was born on 18 August that year.
Frances Bean has famous godparents
The godfather of Kurt and Courtney's daughter is Michael Stipe of R.E.M., while her godmother is Drew Barrymore.
The very first Nirvana single was a cover version
The track Love Buzz (backed with Big Cheese) was released on the super-cool Sub Pop label in November 1988. The track is a cover of a 1969 song by the Dutch band Shocking Blue, who are better known for their hit Venus, later covered by Bananarama.
Bob Dylan claimed that Polly was the best Nirvana song
According to one Nirvana biography, the legendary singer-songwriter heard the band play Polly at a gig. The song details the abduction and rape of a young girl, told from the point of view of the attacker and is based on a true incident. After hearing the lyrics, Dylan announced: “That kid has heart”.
Kurt performed a gig after OD-ing on heroin earlier that day
According to Nirvana PR Anton Brookes, Cobain took a stronger-than-usual dose of heroin on the afternoon of 23 July 1993, before the band were due to play New York’s Roseland Ballroom as part of the New Music Seminar. Despite turning blue, the singer recovered and went on to play the show AND do a magazine photo shoot. "Believe it or not, Nirvana were very professional when they needed to be,” Brookes said.
Kurt’s favourite book was Perfume by Patrick Süskind
Subtitled “The Story Of A Murderer”, this 1985 historical novel tells the story of a perfumer’s apprentice who has no body odour, but kills women to steal their scent. It inspired Cobain to write the song Scentless Apprentice, which appears on In Utero.
The fourth Nirvana album would have been more acoustic
Kurt claimed in 1993 that the follow-up to In Utero was going to be “pretty ethereal, acoustic, like R.E.M.'s last album". He was referring to Automatic For The People and had struck up a friendship with Michael Stipe.
After Kurt's death. Stipe and his bandmates tried to heal the pain they felt over not being able to help the singer by recording the song Let Me In on their next album Monster.