On April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain, who is largely responsible for bringing grunge and alternative rock to the masses, tragically ended his own life. His death certificate states that his death was a result of a “contact perforating shotgun wound to the head” and concludes that it was a suicide.
At that point the band had released three studio albums: 1989’s Bleach, 1991’s Nevermind, and 1993’s In Utero. By January 1992, Nevermind had changed the face of music – so much so that it dethroned Michael Jackson’s Dangerous and slid into the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart. The Recording Industry Association of America has certified the album diamond (at least 10 million copies shipped), and it has sold at least 24 million copies worldwide.
While over two decades have passed since the release of Nirvana’s final studio album, In Utero, their music still runs deep. And I don’t think that will ever change. Cobain’s words, aggressive guitar-playing, and overall demeanor towards fame hit a nerve with a lot of people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether he liked it or not, he was (and continues to be) a spokesperson for a generation. Play the first few chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for anyone over the age of 30 and they will recognize it. In fact, they will probably reference the music video as well.
Although a lot has happened within the Nirvana family over the last 22 years, the last five years have proved to be a little more notable for a few reasons. Interestingly, all of these milestones have taken place during the month of April:
- April 16, 2011 – Seattle’s Experience Music Project unveiled an exhibit dedicated to Nirvana and the grunge scene. Housing over 200 Nirvana artifacts and countless photos of the band, “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses,” allows visitors to delve into the 1990s underground music scene. Featuring more than 150 iconic instruments, original poster artwork, photographs, albums, films of performance footage, and 100 new and archived oral histories from key figures in the independent music scene (including Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic), the exhibit is the most comprehensive of its kind.
- April 10, 2014 – Nirvana is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Michael Stipe and both his induction speech and the subsequent performances were without a doubt the night’s main event. Dave Grohl demonstrated once again that he is the best public speaker in rock and roll, Courtney Love thankfully kept her remarks to a minimum, and the audience was honored to see Cobain’s brave mother and sister in attendance. Also, choosing four badass women (Joan Jett, Lorde, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, and Annie Clark of St. Vincent) to sing Nirvana songs was brilliant and probably the only way it could have worked.
- In the April 8, 2015 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Cobain’s daughter Frances Bean was interviewed by longtime RS writer David Fricke. The interview and subsequent article marked the first time Frances has been in the spotlight in many years. For the first time ever, she publicly spoke about her father, her rocky relationship with her mother Courtney Love, and about being an executive producer of (but not appearing in) the documentary film Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.
- On April 24, 2015, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, a documentary film that profiles Cobain and his family from the beginning using tapes and journals found at his parents’ house, premiered on HBO. Comprised of footage from various Nirvana performances, unreleased home movies, recordings, artwork, photography, journals, demos and songbooks, the documentary includes interviews with Cobain’s parents, sister, ex-girlfriend, wife (Courtney Love), and former bandmates.
If you’re a Nirvana fan tune in to 107.9 Radio Free Minturn, www.radiofreeminturn.org, or the Tune In app on your iPhone or iPad from 5 to 7 p.m. MST tomorrow night.