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."
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