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Highlights from The Times: Kurt Cobain remembered, 1967-1994

Kurt-cobain
Kurt Cobain
, the frontman for 1990s rock band Nirvana and reluctant spokesperson for a generation of anti-establishment, angst-riddled listeners, died in his Seattle-area home 17 years ago today. On this anniversary, we revisit the impact he had on the music industry and its listeners by featuring tributes that ran in the Los Angeles Times after his death:

"To many who weren't touched by his music, he will be dismissed as another rock 'n' roll stereotype ... a guy who was more lucky than talented, more indulgent than tormented," wrote then-Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn, adding, "But he was so much more. In a pop world filled with pretenders and opportunists, Cobain was the real thing -- a unique and invaluable voice."

He continued:

The first time I met Cobain was in the fall of 1992. He hadn't done an interview in months, but was troubled by recurring rumors that identified him and wife Courtney Love, the rock singer and songwriter, as drug addicts.

He said he had run into a teen-ager who was on heroin at a club in Orange County a few nights before and the kid nodded at Cobain as if they were mates because of their drugs.

"We had a lot of young fans and I don't want to have anything to do with inciting drug use," he said in a soft, fragile voice that contrasted with his howling intensity on stage.

He then admitted using heroin in the past, but said he was doing it no longer. Referring to the couple's then 4-week-old daughter, he added, "I don't want people telling her that her parents were junkies."

Bob Guccione Jr., then-editor and publisher of Spin magazine, also shared his appreciation for Cobain in The Times, writing:

"He was the poet of this generation. It will be easy in the coming months, especially for older people, to downplay Kurt's significance and contribution, but that would be wrong. Like Rimbaud, he died too young, lived too unflatteringly and left too little compared with what we hoped for, but it was enough for him to be one of the pillars in the artistic pantheon. The horrible manner of his death and the anger we feel because he destroyed something we loved creates a cultural blood clot ..."

What are your memories of listening to Nirvana? Or, if you are too young, do you listen to the band now? Do you think they still have an impact?  Share in the comments.

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-- Whitney Friedlander

Photo: Kurt Cobain performs with his group, Nirvana, on "MTV Unplugged" in 1993. Credit: Frank Micelotta / Getty Images

 
Comments () | Archives (27)

I'm sixteen and began listening to Nirvana last year, when I saw the movie Definitely, Maybe when the character April played the song come as you are, I really liked the song and downloaded it, anon downloading more Nirvana songs and began to really enjoy the band, therefore proceeding to research on background info about the band especially Kurt. I knew who he was before, but I was intrigued to find out that he was unfortunately added to the 28 club along with my other two favorite musicians Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones (former percussionist from The Rolling Stones), the more I listened to Nirvana's music, the more I read Cobain's quotes, the more I began to understand and the more I grieved Kurt's unnecessary death. R.I.P. Kurt, and hey I'd rather be loved for who I am too!

what kind of dad kills himself leaving behind his daughter? the answer is a coward

therapy by shotgun blast...dirty-winged iconoclast...we lost our voice, artist's choice...fade to black, not coming back....

I was about 5 when Kurt passed away. I would be lying if I said I remember it....however, when I was a teenager, nothing spoke to me more than Nirvana. It became a huge influence in how I viewed the world then and even now.

Does every1 beleive he really killed himself?? He was found dead with way more heroin in his system than a person could handle and still be able to pull the trigger!! He had everything and was on top does that sound like a reason to kill yourself ?? Look at the signs there are alot that piont to Courtney!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think it's the 27 Club, not the 28 Club. Members: Cobain, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin.

I'm 60 years old and still listen to Nirvana. For me their Unplugged appearance was the pinnacle Nirvana experience, showcasing the music and the personalities, and watching/listening to the musicians playing what became some of my favorite songs continues to enrich my life.

As far as I'm concerned, Kurt was a phenomenal songwriter and performer. I feel to this day pangs of sadness when I contemplate his death.

If you are too young to have been a live fan, or don't at least know and appreciate Kurt's spirit for his family, and his music, then shut the hell up. Depression and suicide are a hell that no one can truly understand unless they've lived it. The legacy of Nirvana's music and the humanity of Kurt's lyrics are those that have given hope and solace to a generation. So listen up or shut up.

I remember the day I saw the news, just 14 and not quite ready to pick up a guitar. As a boy from the Valley, I'd already been frustrated with the growing fashion trend of heavy flannel sweaters and shredded baggy jeans, if only because of the heat. But I loved the music. Along with Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Beck, Nirvana was part of a select group of artists whose piercing pain and isolation really reached out to where I was. Or, at least where I thought I was.

For the rest of high school, their sound really defined how I saw myself - the lonely outsider with a an uncomfortably melancholy point of view, too sensitive to the weak and the sad. My circle of friends, ones who got me on a gut level, were all post-punk, garage-band wannabes, and we all used to hang out with the guitars we barely knew how to play dreaming of owning a Fender Jaguar like Kurt.

Having grown up and out of myself since those days, I realize now how Kurt was able to masterfully verbalize the pain and isolation of a sensitive sort stranded in an emotional purgatory. And he also, not single-handedly but powerfully, defined the Seattle "sound" that made Grunge the force it was in the music industry for most of a decade. Today, indie rockers all owe a debt of gratitude to Kurt, or at least a nod of their shaggy chins.

I know this is all over-simplified, but Kurt inspired a generation to pick up guitars and be simultaneously furiously raging and terribly emotionally vulnerable.

Grunge is just another word for "whine rock".

I am 37 now I was the teenage generation so influence by the pain and emotion Kurt was fortunate to shaw with us. A spokesman of our generation,so to speak, which he never wanted to. John Lennon of the late 80's and early 90's . Kurt changed music forever as has so few others have in the 20th century and was the late to do so. I still remember hearing on the radio that morning of his discovery and had to call so many people to see if I hear right cause like Kurt I was battling me demons. He was the reason I started playing guitar and still to this day will crank it up and play anurisome when I am feeling the rage. Like so many others that changed music like jimi, Lennon and so many others you left this world way to soon . Kurt left us wanting more and grateful for what we had. Those who want to bash him for killing himself without walk the path of pain and addiction, you have no right. I have walked that road so I can say you suck for killing yourself Kurt . Kortney live can go to he'll for so many reasons.......

I was invited to go to last concert - said no - I will go to next one. regret.

I was 9 years old when this happened. I was obsessed with Nirvana. I remember seeing Smells Like Teen Spirit on MTV for the first time and it changing my life. I remember walking to the record store after school when I was 8 and buying In Utero on cassette. I remember watching the unplugged performance on MTV the day it premiered. I remember seeing on MTV news that he killed himself and my mom explaining to me that "he's in a better place" and then her comparing his death to Jimi Hendrix's. There was definitely something special about Kurt and it shows because Nirvana didn't put out many recordings. He really was the only real rock and roll god of my generation. Fact.

Today, during lunch my history teacher played some of Unplugged In New York.
It wasn't until I got home that I realized that today was the 17th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death. So I listened to some Nirvana, and downloaded Pennyroyal Tea out of respect for Cobain. He died two and a half years before I was born but he's still had a big influence on my life. R.I.P. Kurdt, you were too good of a man
to have been taken away from us so soon...

To Mark: did you know, some people believe the meaning of All Apologies is Kurt's way of apologizing to his daughter for not being the dad he should've been?

i can remember the first time i heard nirvana i can remember every single detail and to live in a world now where everyone is a pop star we just set aside music like Kurt Cobain listened to when you stand in a group of people and their like you like nirvana you should be say no i love nirvana because when you listen to nirvana your just not listening to a couple of beats your listening learning and feeling the soul of a man that was so tragically unique that he set the basis for an opening to the weird the different the strange so if you could be like me and still remember the sense of acceptance by listening to come as you are at the age of5 and im still able to get the same feeling at the age of 15 .10 years later is amazing that why their will always be that spot in my heart for Kurt Cobain he gave me knowledge to something great he gave me acceptance in a world at the age of 5 i knew i probably would never last in.

Indelible imprint Kurt left. I understood somehow. As Cocteau said "A poet must die many times for the entertainment of the public." Kurt was a poet first and foremost in my mind and others. His angst was music to my ears at a time when college students were helping to elect a Republican as President...Just wrong! I never met him or did video of Nirvana though shot video of many in Seattle during the hey day here. I lived within about a mile of his house, saw him driving along WA Blvd in his baby blue Valiant, I believe it was and once cavorting w/ some others on a pier there. Much too pale, too thin. Sad story in the end, quite sad, and yet out of all the darkness he struggled with he found a voice that touched many. Yes, he was the real deal in a world of so many who are not. He is missed. May he rest in peace. Nice article on him here. I did just post tonight as I did not see any others for Kurt, I always remember. I posted him doing "Pennyroyal Tea" solo on MTV Unplugged and noted the line "give me a Leonard Cohen after world so I can sigh eternally."

I was 15 the day Kurt died. I was working at the time and my grandmother called me with the news, as she knew how important the band was to me. I remember feeling like someone punched me in the stomach. I just couldn't believe he was gone. I still sometimes have a hard time understanding it, and when I think of Kurt, Layne, Mike Starr, and others from that time who are now gone, I am filled with such sadness I often can't even listen to the music, as much as I love it.

Marissa, Brian Jones wasn't a percussionist for the Stones (that was Charlie Watts), he was a musician of many talents who actually was the founder of the group and gave it the name Rolling Stones. One of his most interesting contributions may have been playing the harpsicord in Lady Jane, an ancient and lost instrument. He was also so nervous playing the harmonica when Bob Dylan was at a session his lips bled and Dylan told him not to worry. Cool you like Hendrix and the Stones and Cobain. Study the history.

I first heard Nevermind in the Summer of '97, of course this was a couple years after the intial release of the album, but I was about 11 years old at the time and just freshly expanding my musical horizons. My parents had bought me the album for Christmas because I had fallen deeply in love with a man named Kurt Cobain and his beautifully grim lyrics. At that time all I ever wanted to do was lock myself up in a room and hear him all day and that I did! An infatuation with everything Nirvana began including wanting to learn everything about Kurt, maybe I thought I could pick apart his brain if I studied his words closely and tried to place myself in his oversized grandpa sweater. As I grew older I realized that his talent and allure as a person was much more concise than my silly crush and teenage angst repletion at the time. Today Nirvana still inspires me, still makes me want to sing out loud and still kicks up that fire that started over 14 years ago and I'm pretty certain some kid, feeling like there isn't any hope in the world will soon discover that he really isn't alone after all.

I love Nirvana and Cobain's contribution to music is missed. Nirvana's music crossed all boundaries including into the African-American community. I like many other Blacks love their music and miss a wonderfully talented artist. But thank God for iPod because I play something by Nirvana everyday.

No! He's alive, living on a desert island with Bruce Lee and Tupac, and sometimes they have Elvis as a dinner guest.

This guy complained too much.

you never spoke for me
all apologies and
mediocrity dressed
in melodramatic
mumblings
black converse
wingless angst
holocausts happened while
you preened
and while you whined...
oh well, nevermind


I think we put too much emphasis and hero worship on these folks. He was no better nor worse off than the next guy, no more special nor troubled than the next....

He was a musician. He made a choice to become a musician and couldn't handle to consequences of fame, nor fatherhood. He sounded like a guy who loved making choices but couldn't accept the consequences and then played the roll of tortured victim.

I enjoyed Nirvana's music, but I didn't think it was so much better or more worthy than anything else the 90's brought us...in fact I think the short life of the grunge era proves that it wasn't too spectacular...more or less just a bunch of whining, self indulgent kids who have since grown up and realized that life is what you make of it.

I would venture to say a greater loss, musically, was Stevie Ray Vaughn, who was a much better musician and a true student of the artform.

I'm 15 and I remember listening to Nirvana in the car when I was reallllly young. Ever since, I've been a die-hard fan, teaching myself their songs on guitar. I think it is the best kind of music and I will always love the people and the band.

 
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