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Kurt Cobain Biography

Nevermind made a star of Cobain - but he was never comfortable with the fame.

The Kurt Cobain biography is the story of a reluctant star whose music defined a generation. His life was almost always marked by trouble, and his downward spiral was well documented in the month leading up to his suicide. Cobain spent a relatively short amount of time in the spotlight, but his influence lives on in music and popular culture.

Kurt Cobain Biography - The Early Years

Born February 20, 1967 in Aberdeen, Washington, Kurt Donald Cobain had music in his blood. Both his parents were musicians, and from a young age, Cobain himself took to singing, songwriting and guitar.

His parents divorced when he was eight, and in subsequent years, his mother has pointed to this event as a changing point in his life. Cobain withdrew from friends and activities and started getting into trouble in school. He initially lived with his mother, but ended up bouncing around between family members and eventually the houses of friends. He briefly lived with an evangelical Christian family and adopted their beliefs. He would later renounce the religious beliefs he learned there and wrote a derogatory song about the experience. He would go on to consider himself a Buddhist and Jain.

Cobain's father tried to force him to become involved in sports, where Cobain showed some talent. However, Cobain hated the macho attitude of sports and deliberately threw his events. His behavior on his sports team and his friendship with a homosexual student made him the target of bullies. During this period, Cobain developed a commitment to gay rights and women's rights that he would passionately defend throughout his career.

Cobain took more interest in the music scene in Washington. He clicked with the punk scene and burgeoning grunge scene. In 1987, he formed the band Nirvana.

Nirvana Takes Off

Initially, Nirvana had moderate success on the underground grunge scene, but Cobain often despaired about the band's struggle for broader success. They signed a deal with Sub Pop Records, the indie label that was at the center of the grunge movement, and released Bleach, their debut album.

Bleach was successful on the underground scene, but at this point, major labels were uncovering grunge and sniffing around for bands to sign. Cobain was hesitant about a major label deal, but buoyed by the success of dedicated indie act Sonic Youth on Geffen Records, Nirvana signed a Geffen deal. It was one of the most significant moments in the Kurt Cobain biography. In many ways, the deal set the stage for his early demise.

In 1991, Geffen released Nevermind. The response to the album surprised everyone. Bolstered by MTV heavy rotation for the lead single Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nevermind was selling 400,000 copies per week three months after release.

Cobain became one of the most famous people in the world almost overnight, and he was instantly uncomfortable with the new role. The constant schedule of touring and recording took an immediate toll on him. He felt as though most of his audience didn't understand the political messages in his music, and he believed he was getting too far away from the reasons he became a musician in the first place.

Cobain had long struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, and his heroin use began to get out of control while he was on the road.

Marriage and Death

Cobain met Courtney Love in 1989, but the two did not cement their relationship until 1991. After a few months of dating, Love discovered that she was pregnant, and the pair married. After Love revealed in a Vanity Fair interview that she had used heroin during her pregnancy, the Los Angeles Social Services Department filed a petition and successfully had the couple's newborn daughter, Frances Bean, removed from their care. They regained custody about a year later.

Love shared Cobain's drug addiction. Shortly after their marriage, they both went through rehab, but both would relapse. Rehab and relapse became a cycle in their relationship.

By spring of 1994, Cobain's friends were alarmed by his health and his out of control drug use. Friends would later speak of his depression during this period. In March, Cobain overdosed on a combination of drugs and alcohol in Italy. Love would later say she believed this to be a suicide attempt. The couple returned to Seattle, and, after a second suicide attempt, Love arranged an intervention to convince Cobain to go to rehab.

On March 30, Cobain flew to Los Angeles for rehab. On April 1, friends visited him at the rehab center. After joking with them about the six foot wall around the rehab center, he climbed over the wall that night, headed to the airport and flew back to Seattle, unbeknownst to family and friends who had traveled to L.A. to be near him.

Fans reported seeing Cobain around Seattle during the first few days in April, but friends and family were unable to locate him. Love hired an investigator to track him down on April 7. On April 8, Cobain's body was found at his Seattle home by an electrician who was there to work on a security system. An autopsy revealed he had likely died on April 5.


Despite his early death, Cobain is credited as the voice of a generation. He remains one of the biggest influences on musicians who came after him.

Kurt Cobain Biography