Kurt Cobain's dead body was found by an electrician on April 8, 1994 in the greenhouse of his million-dollar Lake Washington Boulevard home in Seattle. Nobody is sure when the brilliant Nirvana singer/guitarist took his life, though -- as Charles Cross writes in his definitive biography Heavier Than Heaven, "The date of death was determined to be April 5, though it could have been 24 hours before or after." As with most details of Kurt's life, the myths overshadow the facts.
Almost everything about Cobain's final days and hours remains uncertain: He skipped out of a 28-day rehab program in Los Angeles on Day Two and flew back to Washington, coincidentally sitting next to ex-Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan in first class. He tried to call Courtney Love, who was also in a rehab center. He bought shotgun shells. He put a copy of R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People in his CD player. He wrote a farewell note. And then he was gone.
Cobain was trying to escape pain, and many assume fame, but his relationship to the latter was far more complex. And in the nearly two decades since his death, his name, likeness, and music have wound up in unusual -- and some would argue irreverent -- places. Interestingly, his legacy on the Internet remains fuzzy: Nobody from the Cobain estate has bothered to obtain KurtCobain.com, which is currently a fansite that hasn't been updated since May 6, 2009. Nirvana curiously has a MySpace page, and Universal Music seems to be maintaining a Facebook presence, but there is no Nirvana.com -- HereIsNirvana.com, the "official site," only directs to a sign-up for a mailing list. Searching "Nirvana" brings up the band's Wikipedia page and Nirvana Club, a comprehensive international fan site.
But remembering Cobain on the (presumed) date of his death is always good for business, so most publications are pulling out Nirvana goodies today. Here's what we recommend checking out:
• Excerpt of Heavier Than Heaven - This Seattle Times story from 2001 includes part of the chapter where Cross traces Cobain's chilling last days.
• What If Kurt Cobain Didn't Die? - Chuck Klosterman's 2004 column imagines Cobain's uncomfortable post-In Utero career moves.
• Cobain Unseen - Photos from Cross' book exploring the Cobain archives.
And three of The Amp's favorites:
- Kurt Cobain