Kurt Cobain: Revisited

By Marlee Billiter

The world of music wept on April 5, 1994, as news of grunge rockstar and legend, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide at age 27. 

Cobain’s Life

Cobain had a difficult life leading to his rise in fame, as do many grunge performers. His parents divorced at a young age, ultimately splitting him and his younger sister apart. As a result, he began a destructive path in highschool, turning towards hard drugs and alcohol. This became  a regular activity.Sadly, his unfortunate past and dependency on drugs precipitated his decline in mental health. 

The effects of substance abuse are much more dangerous to teenagers than adults. The government-officiated study, Drug Identification and Testing in the Juvenile Justice System, shows substance-abusing youth can easily experience depression, personality disorders, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, and suicide. As young Kurt was falling for the lethal trap, what he didn’t know–or maybe he did–was that he was forging issues that would haunt him for the rest of his life.


As lead singer and guitarist for the famous alternative rock/grunge band, Nirvana, Cobain was very successful. Forming in 1988, Nirvana became internationally known with their second album ‘Nevermind’ in 1991. The increasing popularity of the band and album correlated alongside their hit, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ Cobain, coming from a not-so-great background, was conflicted with the rise of the band and the sound they felt they HAD to recreate for fans. 

His music’s limits being bound by society was not the way he wanted to share his art. It’s the song ‘In Bloom’ where Kurt directs his attention on the general (average listener) population when he sings, “He’s the one who likes all our pretty songs and he likes to sing along, and he likes to shoot his gun, but he knows not what it means.” Kurt mocked those who’d listen to them and expect regular rock. When people started coming to Nirvana’s shows after the release of their first studio album, the band decided to mock those who didn’t understand the underground music scene with ‘In Bloom.’ 

All in all, Kurt Cobain didn’t want the fame accompanying Nirvana. He found ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ embarrassing. He told Rolling Stone Magazine in 1994 that he had other songs that were written, “… As good, if not better, than that song, like ‘Drain You.’ That’s definitely as good as ‘Teen Spirit.’” He later goes on to say maybe he wouldn’t like ‘Drain You’ either if it had gone on to earn so much popularity. While every other rock band would love for their music to get as famous as ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ Kurt had an unorthodox feeling, which was only one interesting discovery in respect to his intriguing mindset. 


Cobain was either ahead of his time or the best representative of his generation. The 90’s were already known for their modernized ideas and wild expressions–hence the striking popularity for grunge and alternative rock and the glamorization of drugs. Kurt was self-aware, noticing his own mental issues and the faults of American reality, or reality itself. Some people question if our lives are a part of a simulation, Kurt shared similar beliefs. The way he describes things is fascinating. In one of Kurt’s last interviews, he speaks solemnly: “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.” Hearing this, its  hard to determine if he’s an inquisitive human, or if he’s so far gone from drug use.. 

In my opinion, the drugs were contributing to his sublime and falsified reality, creating this alternative life in which his existential dread never actually leaves him. Drugs like heroin, cocaine, nicotine, are all agonists, mimicking the functions of our dopamine neurotransmitter. Dopamine influences motor movement, learning, attention, and emotion… if excess is created because of addiction, the chances of suffering from schizophrenia are greatly increased. This mental disorder brings people to interpreting reality in abnormal ways, much like Cobain did. 

The Nirvana singer was very much an addict with mental health problems and questionable behavior; however, his ideas were revolutionary. Cobain was a proud advocate for women, the LGBTQ+ community, and racial equality. In the liner notes of Nirvana’s album ‘Incesticide,’ Kurt wrote one of his most famous quotes saying, “At this point I have a request for our fans. If any of you in anyway hate homosexuals, people of a different color, or women, please do this one favor for us–leave us the f**k alone! Don’t come to our shows, and don’t buy our records.” 

I believe Kurt Cobain was suicidal, but it was only intensified by his disdain for the world around him. He may not have voiced it directly;however, there are lyrics of his that suggest his beliefs were heavily rooted in existentialism. Such as, in their song ‘Stay Away,’ Cobain sings, “I’d rather be dead than cool.” Emphasizing his hatred for society’s idea of “cool,” Cobain would rather die than play a part in their standards.

April 8, 1994

On April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain killed himself in the room above his garage at his home in Seattle, Washington. His body wasn’t discovered until three days later when electrician Gary Smith was working inside the house. Autopsy reports prove that Cobain injected himself with heroin and then shot himself with the gun his friend had purchased him just three days prior. Although police instantly reported that the death was suicide, skeptics started pointing fingers at his wife, Courtney Love.


Courtney Love was the face of the alternative rock band, Hole. Love, similar to her husband, had substance abuse issues and displayed destructive behaviors. She’s known for being a trainwreck. One of her most widely known scandals is that she admitted to abusing heroin while pregnant with her daughter, Frances Cobain. In 2009, while trying to get a restraining order against her mother, Frances said, “[She has taken drugs for as long as I can remember. She basically exists now on… Xanax, Adderall, Sonata and Abilify, sugar and cigarettes. She rarely eats… She often falls asleep in her bed while she is smoking, and I am constantly worried that she will start a fire–which she has done at least three times.” Despite this, there’s no definitive proof that she was involved in his death. But, there are some who think she was.

One of the leading conspiracy theorists of this claim is Los Angeles Police Department officer, Tom Grant. Hired as a private investigator by Courtney Love herself, Grant upon viewing the crime scene, believed Cobain was murdered. He suspected the death was a form of foul play, and Love was his number one suspect. It seems far-fetched to think she’s at fault when the inspecting police officers, forensic linguists, and even Nirvana’s former manager all agreed with the ruling. But the only reason conspiracy theorists think so highly of this idea is because Courtney Love is “crazy.” The catastrophic paths Love was taking around the time Cobain died were very similar to his;however, she’s facing the title and blame for his death. Could this possibly be because she’s a woman who very clearly doesn’t follow social standards and skeptics have a problem with that? 

Kurt Cobain Killed Himself.
The conspiracy theories behind Kurt Cobain’s death are overt fans simply reaching for a dramatic story. Cobain was nowhere near healthy in the head, just the fact that heroin was his painkiller for chronic stomach pain says enough. He was one of the most interesting celebrities of the 90’s, and the extraneous amount of fame became too overwhelming. I’d like to think Kurt Cobain killed himself because it was the only option of escaping the pain he felt everyday. While many think differently, the way Kurt perceived our world could explain the very reason for why he left in a drug-consoled hurry.


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