Aberdeen, Washington, April 2:
Beneath this bridge above the muddy banks of Wishkah River, a troubled young Kurt Cobain would come to escape his unhappy home and the persistent grey drizzle of the Washington coast.Among the cracking concrete supports, he would smoke pot and drink and plot his stardom, bragging to friends of his “suicide genes” and that he would die a young rock star.
It’s here that many of his fans have come to pay their respects since he fulfilled that prophesy with a needle and a shotgun 10 years ago on April 5.
“Peace, love, empathy,” reads one message scrawled in graffiti under the bridge. “Kurt,” says another, “Your spirit will bounce on happily.”Cobain and his band, Nirvana, spent only three years in the public eye, and they released only three studio albums. But what he ccomplished before committing suicide at age 27 — deciding it was “better to burn out than fade away,” as he quoted Neil Young in his suicide note — was remarkable.Critics describe 1991’s ‘Nevermind’ as one of the decade’s most important album. Cobain biographer Charles Cross says that when Nirvana went to record ‘Nevermind’, they followed Warrant into the studio — a band known for big hair, open shirts and their ‘Cherry Pie’ video.Shortly before he dropped out of Aberdeen’s Weatherwax High School, Cobain began playing with classmate Krist Novoselic. They formed Nirvana after moving to Olympia in the late 1980s, and drummer Dave Grohl — now of the Foo Fighters — joined the band in 1990, the year Cobain began taking heroin, and the year Nirvana’s first album, ‘Bleach’, helped it win a major label deal with DGC, part of Geffen Records.
Shortly before Cobain brought his dyed locks and emaciated frame onto ‘Saturday Night Live’, he learned ‘Nevermind’ had knocked Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ out of the No 1 spot.
As his fame soared, though, so did his heroin use, in part as a self-treatment for his chronic stomach pain. Encouraged by his wife, Courtney Love, who had her own drug problems, Cobain checked into detox several times over the next two-and-half years. But he always returned to heroin, even around the time his daughter was born in 1992.
Nevertheless, his songwriting remained impressive and became more polished with Love’s collaboration, especially on ‘Heart-shaped Box’ and other songs for Nirvana’s third album, ‘In Utero’.In January 1994, as Cobain’s despondency spiraled, he recorded his last great song, “You Know You’re Right”. While in Rome a month after recording it, he tried to kill himself by taking 60 tranquillisers. The overdose left him in a coma. He survived, but in early April he jumped a wall at a detox centre in Los Angeles and flew back to Seattle. On April 5, 1994 — give or take 24 hours — Cobain wrote a suicide note, in which he said he couldn’t stand to think of his daughter becoming “the miserable self-destructive, death rocker that I’ve become.” He went into the greenhouse of his mansion, injected himself with a massive dose of heroin, put a 20-gauge shotgun against the roof of his mouth, and fired.An electrician found his body the morning of April 8.