Kurt Cobain (full name Kurt Donald Cobain; born February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, WA; died April 5, 1994, in Seattle, WA) was the guitarist and singer for the legendary band of the 90's Nirvana, untill his death in 1994 (from which they disbanded), and is an unlockable guitarist in Guitar Hero 5. He can be unlocked after completing the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in Career mode.
Considering that Cobain's appearance in Guitar Hero 5 was confirmed after Johnny Cash's, it may be said that he is the third character to appear posthumously in the series.
Kurt Donald Cobain was born on February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. He lived his first six months in the city of Hoquiam, WA, before the family moved back to Aberdeen. His father, Donald Leland Cobain, was of Irish and French descent, and his mother, Wendy Elizabeth Fradenburg, was of Irish, German and English ancestry. Cobain had one younger sister named Kimberly, born on April 24, 1970. He began developing an interest in music early in his life. According to his Aunt Mari, "he was singing from the time he was two. He would sing Beatles songs like 'Hey Jude'. He had a lot of charisma from a very young age."
Cobain's parents divorced when he was eight years old, an event which he later said had a profound effect on his life. His mother noted that his personality changed dramatically, with Cobain becoming more withdrawn. In a 1993 interview, Cobain said, "I remember feeling ashamed, for some reason. I was ashamed of my parents. I couldn't face some of my friends at school anymore, because I desperately wanted to have the classic, you know, typical family. Mother, father. I wanted that security, so I resented my parents for quite a few years because of that." After one year living with his mother following the divorce, Cobain moved to Montesano, WA to live with his father. However, after several years his youthful rebellion became too overwhelming for his father and he was shuffled between friends and family.
While living with a born-again Christian family, Cobain converted to Christianity, regularly reading the Bible and attending Church services. Cobain later renounced Christianity, engaging in what would be described as "anti-God" rants. Cobain later spoke of this experience in the song "Lithium". Religion would still play an important part in Cobain's personal life and beliefs, as he often used Christian imagery in his work, and maintained a constant interest in Jainism and Buddhist philosophy. Cobain would regard himself as both a Buddhist and a Jain during different points of his life, but only due to watching late-night television specials on both subjects.
At school, Cobain took little interest in sports. At his father's insistence, he joined the junior high school wrestling team. While he was good at it, he despised the experience because of the abuse he received from his teammates and coach. He allowed himself to be pinned, in order to spite his father. His father later enlisted him for a local baseball league, where Cobain would intentionally strike out to avoid having to play. Cobain focused on his art courses instead. He often drew during classes, including objects associated with human anatomy. When given a caricature assignment, Cobain drew a posing Michael Jackson. When told this would be inappropriate to be displayed within the school, Cobain drew an unflattering sketch of then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Cobain was friends with a homosexual student at his high school, sometimes suffering bullying from homophobic students who concluded that Cobain was gay. In a 1993 interview with The Advocate, Cobain claimed that he was "gay in spirit" and "probably could be bisexual." He also stated that he used to spray paint "God is Gay" on pickup trucks around Aberdeen. However, Aberdeen police records show that the phrase for which he was arrested was actually "Ain't got no how watchamacallit." In one of his personal journals read, "I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes."
According to some of Cobain's classmates and family members, Cobain's first concert was Sammy Hagar and Quarterflash at the Seattle Center Coliseum. Cobain, however, claimed his first concert was the Melvins. An experience Cobain wrote prolifically of in his Journals. As a teenager living in Montesano, Cobain eventually found escape through the thriving Pacific Northwest punk scene, going to punk rock shows in Seattle. Eventually, Cobain began frequenting the practice space of fellow Montesano musicians the Melvins.
In the middle of 10th grade, Cobain moved back in with his mother in Aberdeen. Two weeks before graduation, he dropped out of high school after realizing that he did not have enough credits to graduate. His mother gave him a choice: get a job or leave. After a week or so, Cobain found his clothes and other belongings packed away in boxes. Forced out of his mother's home, Cobain often stayed at friends' houses and sneaked into his mother's basement occasionally. Cobain later claimed that when he could not find anywhere else to stay, he lived under a bridge over the Wishkah River, an experience that inspired the Nevermind track "Something in the Way" and the title of Nirvana's sole official live album, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah. However, Krist Novoselic said, "He hung out there, but you couldn't live on those muddy banks, with the tides coming up and down. That was his own revisionism."
In late 1986, Cobain, for the first time, found his own place and paid his rent by working at a Polynesian coastal resort 20 miles from Aberdeen. At the same time, he was traveling more frequently to Olympia, Washington to check out rock shows. During his visits to Olympia, Cobain started a relationship with Tracy Marander.
For his 14th birthday, Cobain's uncle gave him the option of a guitar or a bicycle as a gift; Cobain chose the guitar. He started learning a few covers, including AC/DC's "Back in Black" and The Cars' "My Best Friend's Girl", and soon began working on his own songs. During high school, Cobain rarely found anyone with whom he could play music. While hanging out at the Melvins practice space, he met Krist Novoselic, a fellow devotee of punk rock. Novoselic's mother owned a hair salon and Cobain and Novoselic would occasionally practice in the upstairs room. A few years later, Cobain tried to convince Novoselic to form a band with him by lending him a copy of a home demo recorded by Cobain's earlier band, Fecal Matter. After months of asking, Novoselic finally agreed to join Cobain, forming the beginnings of Nirvana.
During their first few years playing together, Novoselic and Cobain were hosts to a rotating list of drummers. Eventually, the band settled on Chad Channing, with whom Nirvana recorded the album Bleach, released on Sub Pop Records in 1989. Cobain, however, became dissatisfied with Channing's style, leading the band to seek out a replacement, eventually settling on Dave Grohl. With Grohl, the band found their greatest success via their 1991 major-label debut, Nevermind, where some of their most pouplar songs, such as Smells Like Teen Spirit, Lithium, and Come as You Are were released.
Cobain struggled to reconcile the massive success of Nirvana with his underground roots. He also felt persecuted by the media, comparing himself to Frances Farmer. Then he harbored resentment for people who claimed to be fans of the band but who did not acknowledge or misinterpreted the band's political views. A vocal opponent of sexism, racism and homophobia, he was publicly proud that Nirvana had played at a gay rights benefit supporting No-on-Nine in Oregon in 1992. Cobain was a vocal supporter of the pro-choice movement, and had been involved in Rock for Choice from the campaign inception by L7. He received death threats from pro-life activists for doing so, with one activist threatening that Cobain would be shot as soon as he stepped on stage. The liner notes from Incesticide declared:
- "If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us -- leave us the fuck alone! Don't come to our shows and don't buy our records".
An article from his posthumously released Journals declares that social liberation could be made possible only through the eradication of sexism.
Courtney Love first saw Cobain perform in 1989 at a show in Portland, OR; the pair talked briefly after the show and Love developed a crush on him. According to journalist Everett True, the pair were formally introduced at an L7 and Butthole Surfers concert in Los Angeles in May 1991. In the weeks that followed, after learning from Dave Grohl that she and Cobain shared mutual crushes, Love began pursuing Cobain. In the fall of 1991 the two were often together, and bonded through drug use.
Around the time of Nirvana's 1992 performance on Saturday Night Live, Love discovered that she was pregnant with Cobain's child. A few days after the conclusion of Nirvana's Pacific Rim tour, on Monday, February 24, 1992, Cobain and Love married on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii; Cobain noted weeks later, in an interview with Sassy magazine:
- "In the last couple months I've gotten engaged and my attitude has changed drastically. I can't believe how much happier I am. At times I even forget that I'm in a band, I'm so blinded by love. I know that sounds embarrassing, but it's true. I could give up the band right now. It doesn't matter, but I'm under contract."
On August 18, the couple's daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was born.
In a 1992 article in Vanity Fair, Love admitted to using heroin while, unknowingly, pregnant. Love claimed that Vanity Fair had misquoted her, but the event created controversy for the couple. While Cobain and Love's romance had always been something of a media attraction, the couple found themselves hounded by tabloid reporters after the article was published, many wanting to know if Frances was addicted to drugs at birth. The Los Angeles County Department of Children's Services took the Cobains to court, claiming that the couple's drug usage made them unfit parents. Two-week-old Frances Bean Cobain was ordered by the judge to be taken from their custody and placed with Courtney's sister Jamie for several weeks, after which the couple obtained custody, but had to submit to urine tests and a regular visit from a social worker. After months of legal wrangling, the couple were eventually granted full custody of their daughter.
Throughout most of his life, Cobain suffered from chronic bronchitis and intense physical pain due to an undiagnosed chronic stomach condition. This last condition was especially debilitating to him emotionally, and he spent years trying to find its cause. However, none of the doctors he consulted were able to pinpoint the specific cause, guessing that it was either a result of Cobain's childhood scoliosis or related to the stresses of performing.
His first drug experience was with marijuana in 1980 at age 13, and he regularly used the drug during adulthood. Cobain also had a period of consuming "notable" amounts of LSD, as observed by Tracy Marander, and "really into getting fucked up: drugs, acid, any kind of drug", as observed by Krist Novoselic; Cobain was also prone to alcoholism and solvent abuse. Cobain's first experience with heroin occurred sometime in 1986, administered to him by a local drug dealer in Tacoma, Washington, who had previously been supplying him with Percodan. Cobain used heroin sporadically for several years, but, by the end of 1990, his use developed into a full-fledged addiction. Cobain claimed that he was "determined to get a habit" as a way to self-medicate his stomach condition. Related Cobain, "It started with three days in a row of doing heroin and I don't have a stomach pain. That was such a relief."
His heroin use eventually began affecting the band's tour in support of Nevermind, with Cobain passing out during photo shoots. One memorable example came the day of the band's 1992 performance on Saturday Night Live, where Nirvana had a shoot with photographer Michael Levine. Having shot up beforehand, Cobain nodded off several times during the shoot. Cobain related to biographer Michael Azerrad:
- "I mean, what are they supposed to do? They're not going to be able to tell me to stop. So I really didn't care. Obviously to them it was like practicing witchcraft or something. They didn't know anything about it so they thought that any second, I was going to die."
Cobain's heroin addiction worsened as the years progressed. Cobain made his first attempt at rehab in early 1992, not long after he and Love discovered they were going to become parents. Immediately after leaving rehab, Nirvana embarked on their Australian tour, with Cobain appearing pale and gaunt while suffering through withdrawals. Not long after returning home, Cobain's heroin use resumed.
Prior to a performance at the New Music Seminar in New York City in July 1993, Cobain suffered a heroin overdose. Rather than calling for an ambulance, Love injected Cobain with illegally acquired Narcan to bring him out of his unconscious state. Cobain proceeded to perform with Nirvana, giving the public no indication that anything out of the ordinary had taken place.
Following a tour stop at Terminal Eins in Munich, Germany, on March 1, 1994, Cobain was diagnosed with bronchitis and severe laryngitis. He flew to Rome the next day for medical treatment, and was joined there by his wife on March 3. The next morning, Love awoke to find that Cobain had overdosed on a combination of champagne and Rohypnol (Love had a prescription for Rohypnol filled after arriving in Rome). Cobain was immediately rushed to the hospital, and spent the rest of the day unconscious. After five days in the hospital, Cobain was released and returned to Seattle. Love later stated that the incident was Cobain's first suicide attempt.
On March 18, Love phoned police to inform them that Cobain was suicidal and had locked himself in a room with a gun. Police arrived and confiscated several guns and a bottle of pills from Cobain, who insisted that he was not suicidal and had locked himself in the room to hide from Love. When questioned by police, Love said that Cobain had never mentioned that he was suicidal and that she had not seen him with a gun.
Love arranged an intervention concerning Cobain's drug use that took place on March 25. The ten people involved included musician friends, record company executives, and one of Cobain's closest friends, Dylan Carlson. But bassist Krist Novoselic tipped him off as he considered the idea to be "stupid". However, by the end of the day, Cobain had agreed to undergo a detox program. Cobain arrived at the Exodus Recovery Center in Los Angeles, California on March 30. The following night, Cobain walked outside to have a cigarette, then climbed over a six-foot-high fence to leave the facility. He took a taxi to Los Angeles Airport and flew back to Seattle. Over the course of April 2 and April 3, Cobain was spotted in various locations around Seattle, but most of his friends and family were unaware of his whereabouts. On April 3, Love contacted a private investigator, Tom Grant, and hired him to find Cobain. On April 7, amid rumors Nirvana was going to break up, the band pulled out of that year's Lollapalooza music festival.
On April 8, 1994, Cobain's body was discovered at his Lake Washington home by an electrician who had arrived to install a security system. Apart from a minor amount of blood coming out of Cobain's ear, the electrician reported seeing no visible signs of trauma, and initially believed that Cobain was asleep until he saw the shotgun pointing at his chin. A suicide note was found that said:
- I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing... for too many years now.
A high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium were also found in his body. Cobain's body had been lying there for days; the coroner's report estimated Cobain to have died on April 5, 1994.
A public vigil was held for Cobain on April 10 at a park at Seattle Center which drew approximately seven thousand mourners. Prerecorded messages by Krist Novoselic and Courtney Love were played at the memorial. Love read portions of Cobain's suicide note to the crowd and broke down, crying and chastising Cobain. Near the end of the vigil, Love arrived at the park and distributed some of Cobain's clothing to those who still remained.
Guitar Hero 5 Edit
"Hi. I'm Kurt Cobain."- Guitar Hero 5 in-game bio.
In all versions of GH5 except the Wii version, the image on Kurt's shirt is Daniel Johnston's Hi, How Are You frog. In the Wii version, the image is replaced by the Nirvana logo. He is unlocked after performing "Lithium" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit", both of which he comes out himself to perform. He uses a sky-blue left-handed Fender guitar that is a variation of Kurt's signiture Jag-Stang which, as the name implies, is an amalgamation of a Jaguar and a Mustang, with a red pickguard and a humbucker in the bridge.
When selected to perform any song in-game other than "Lithium" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Cobain's model uses the respective standard animations; therefore, he will be shown playing right-handed with his left-handed guitar. Also, when the player chooses him on Quickplay mode, he will only be committed to the instrument assigned by the player, i.e. he can either only sing or play the guitar (in addition to bass and drums) - this applies even to "Lithium" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
Notably, he and Jimi Hendrix are the only characters in the entire series to play left-handed - even with the Lefty Flip option turned on, all other guitarist characters still play their guitars right-handed.
The fact that Cobain can be selected to sing, or play on any instrument, any of songs in the game other than his own songs with Nirvana, generated great negative backlash amongst observers, as it is usually seen as a besmirchment of the musician's image (of note, in Guitar Hero World Tour, Jimi Hendrix could not be unlocked by the player to be used on any songs other than his own). Also because of this, Courtney Love, who had collaborated with Activision in the making of his avatar, threatened legal action against the company. The outcome is, as of yet, unknown.