10 Iconic Kurt Cobain Moments
20 years after the passing on grunge’s godfather, we look back
20 years ago on 8 April 1994, Kurt Cobain was found dead in his home. He committed suicide at the age of 27, leading to both his life and death entering the realm of rock folklore. To many he was a hero, a genius, and a good man. Despite the final stages of his life being filled with darkness, it’s important to remember that his legacy is much more than that. Songs that inspired a generation of kids to pick up guitars and countless gigs that proved the true spirit of rock ’n’ roll was alive and well. But there was more to Kurt than the music, he knew how to have fun and how to piss people off. Here’s some of our favourite moments from Kurt and Nirvana over the years; from refusing to play their own songs to sticking it to the music press, he did it all.
Nirvana pretending to mime on Top Of The Pops
If there’s one thing funnier than watching a band mime, it’s a band pretending to mime. Badly. When Nirvana were booked to play Top Of The Pops (remember that show?) in 1991, they were asked to mime their instruments but have live vocals – leading to the band quite obviously not play. Dave Grohl dances behind his kit that he hits out of time, Krist Novoselic is constantly swinging his bass at random and Kurt changes his voice to imitate Morrissey. Don’t tell Nirvana what to do.
Kurt Cobain marries Courtney Love in his pyjamas
Despite both Courtney and Kurt being huge stars in the alternative world, their wedding was an understated affair. Heading out to Hawaii in February 1994 with just eight guests, the two tied the knot. But would you get Kurt in a suit? Of course not, he went for the pyjamas and woven Guatemalan purse look. Classy.
Kurt kisses Krist Novoselic on Saturday Night Live
Kurt was famously anti-homophobia and on an episode of Saturday Night Live (after performing Smells Like Teen Spirit and Territorial Pissings) he and bassist Krist Novoselic embraced and made out during the end credits. Kurt is reported to have said it was to “piss off the rednecks and homophobes”. The kiss has been edited out of all future repeats.
Nirvana get kicked out of their own album launch party
Nevermind was the album to send Nirvana into the stratosphere and it was only right to hold a big ol’ launch party to celebrate. At the Seattle venue Rebar, the band turned up a little worse for wear and started a food fight by allegedly throwing a watermelon filled with ranch dressing. It wasn’t long before they were escorted off the premises.
Kurt and Krist’s interview on MTV Headbangers Ball
Back when MTV had a dedicated rock TV show in Headbangers Ball, Kurt and Krist were guests in 1991 to talk about Nirvana and the emerging grunge scene. However it was up to Krist to do the talking and Kurt to sit there looking like he’d cut up a bouncy castle and fashioned it into some kind of coat. He had to wear sunglasses to stop himself being blinded by the thing.
Kurt’s exclamation about Courtney Love on The Word
For Nirvana’s first ever performance on British TV, they were booked to play The Word – like Top Of The Pops but with ‘edge’. Of course they opted for playing …Teen Spirit, but it was Kurt’s message pre-song that caught people’s attention – “I’d like all of you people in this room to know that Courtney Love, the lead singer of the sensational pop group Hole, is the best f*ck in the world.” Nowadays musicians keep intimate details of their lives firmly under wraps, but where’s the fun in that?
Nirvana play the wrong song on the Jonathan Ross Show
Bored of just playing ‘the hits’ on every TV show appearance, Nirvana refused to play the billed track Lithium on the Jonathan Ross Show and instead lunged into the much more visceral Territorial Pissings. Jonathan Ross’ face after the band finish and trash the drum kit is classic.
Kurt’s antics at Reading festival
In what will be the band’s final UK performance, they headlined Reading festival in 1992. Prior to this, many journalists had accused Kurt of being a useless drug addict which left a sour taste in the his and his fans’ mouths. To mock these reports, Kurt appeared in a blonde wig and hospital gown being pushed on stage in a wheelchair by superstar music journo Everett True. Cobain then before jumping right back up before plunging into Breed and one of the best Nirvana shows ever.
Kurt’s t-shirt in Nirvana’s Rolling Stone cover shoot
How can you act defiant against corporate culture when you’re going to be on the cover of the biggest and most mainstream music magazine on the planet? Have a laugh with the cover shoot! Nirvana graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in April 1992 and instead of the usual flannel pullover, Kurt wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan ‘Corporate Magazines Still Suck’.
Nirvana's performance of Where Did You Sleep Last Night on MTV Unplugged
This just might be the most emotional performance from Nirvana. Ever. To close a magnificent set of crowd-pleasers, lesser-knowns and covers, it was the grand finale of Where Did You Sleep Last Night? that stands out as the shining moment. Allegedly the band were asked by MTV to go back for an encore but the guys refused, knowing there was no way they could follow that song. It’s spine-tinglingly beautiful.
Images 2 and 9 courtesy of Twitter
By Luke Morton