According to The Pulse Of Radio, this Saturday (April 5) marks the 20th anniversary of the death of NIRVANA founder and frontman Kurt Cobain at the age of 27. Cobain, who killed himself with a shotgun in a room above the garage of his Seattle home, instantly joined the pantheon of rock legends who died too early, including Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Bon Scott, and more. Yet while many of those artists lived the rock star lifestyle to the fullest, Cobain was branded as something that he, by all accounts, never wanted to be — the spokesman for an entire generation. It’s widely felt that Cobain’s inability to reconcile his inner demons and fear of “compromise” with NIRVANA’s massive success drove him to depression, drugs, and ultimately, suicide.
KORN guitarist Brian “Head” Welch recalled hearing NIRVANA’s music and sensing that Kurt Cobain was already in a lot of pain. “I just remember tripping and going, ‘Wow, that guy must have been like really in a dark place,’ you know,” he said. “It just shows you, you know, like that life isn’t all about fame and being a rock star and making it and money and all that stuff, you know. It’s about finding like who you are and being happy inside and finding that place, because you can have the whole world and still want to kill yourself. You know, even 20 years later, it’s like a reality check, you know. We should use this, his anniversary of his death, as a reality check.”
Former PANTERA and current HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott said that while NIRVANA’s success did a lot of damage to the metal scene at the time, he still liked the band and was shocked by Cobain’s death. “NIRVANA was a huge band and I, like everybody else, I think — I don’t know anybody who ever said they weren’t a fan of them — thought they were great,” he said. “And I was terribly shocked and kind of mortified as to what happened, you know. I never knew Kurt was that depressed and that kind of stuff, you know. Just didn’t seem that way to me, you know. He was just big and larger than life.”
ALICE IN CHAINS guitarist Jerry Cantrell was coming up on the Seattle music scene at the same time as NIRVANA and ran into Cobain occasionally. “I didn’t really know Kurt that well, but there was a guy I always admired,” he said. “We didn’t spent much time together, but the few times we did spend together, you know, were times I’ll always remember. You know, he was a really sweet guy, and a really genuine soul, you know, and an incredibly talented artist.”
JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford sums up what Kurt Cobain meant to rock music. “He was an absolute genius,” he said. “In the legacy of rock and roll music, he’ll be there with, like, Hendrix and Lennon and Joplin and Morrison. Incredibly evocative, inspiring, controversial, human musician. For me, there’s been nothing great since NIRVANA, in the way it shook up the world. There’s been nothing great since that band.”