13 Rare Facts You Didn’t Know About Kurt Cobain.

The recent release of the Montage of Heck, which critics are describing as one of the most thoughtful, intimate rock documentaries ever made, there is a renewed focus on the 90’s preeminent frontman – Kurt Cobain – in the media.

We looked behind the man behind the music to bring you 13 facts you [probably] didn’t know about Kurt Cobain.

1. Despite the rumours you may have heard, Kurt did not roadie or audition unsuccessfully for The Melvins before forming Nirvana.

kurt cobain auditioned for the melvins before forming nirvana

In an interview with Kurt’s childhood friend and The Melvin’s frontman, Buzz Osbourne, Osbourne said:

I always think it’s funny that people say he roadied for us. Look at him! He couldn’t lift himself out of bed. You think he could roadie for someone? But we all hung out a lot. Krist Novoselic drove for us for a while. But roadie? We didn’t have a roadie. I didn’t even know what a roadie was until 1990. In order to hire someone to roadie you have to be making money. The first time we made money was in 1988, and that was $200. If we would go to Seattle and play a show and make $160, maybe we’d all go buy everyone a burrito. That’s it. There was no money.

And people also say Kurt tried out for The Melvins. Yeah, right. I’ve never had tryouts for this band, ever. I can’t imagine doing that. We all jammed and played together back then. It was hopeless and stupid and horrific and mind numbing. There are happy memories, but in the end it’s a tragedy. I can’t rewrite history in such a way that makes me feel good about it. Honestly, I wish Kurt would have never become famous and was still alive.

2. Kurt was an avid animal lover and even considered opening a petting zoo.

kurt cobain was an animal lover and wanted to open a petting zoo

Founder of Nirvana’s original record label, Sub Pop, Bruce Pavitt, remember a conversation he had with Kurt after the first time Nirvana performed on Saturday Night Live.

“He talked about maybe starting a petting zoo. He was just kind of musing. The energy I was getting was kind of magical: I can pretty much do anything I want. I’d like to start a petting zoo.”

3. Kurt had a childhood imaginary friend, Boddah, to whom he addressed his suicide note.

kurt cobain suicide note addressed to childhood imaginary friend boddah

Kurt often described Boddah as the evil part of his psyche. When Kurt was just a child, he was blamed for the torture of a neighbourhood cat. When he was asked about this, he replied that Boddah had done it.

4. Nirvana’s fourth studio album would have potentially seen the band departing from their grunge roots and would have been more acoustic.

kurt cobain said nirvana fourth album would be more acoustic

In the wake of the hugely successful MTV unplugged album, Kurt had said that his follow-up album would have more ethereal and acoustic influences. After discovering Lead Belly – the band whose song Where Did You Sleep Last Night was covered on the unplugged record – he had discussed moving away from grunge with R.E.M. frontman, Michael Stipe:

“It was going to be very quiet and acoustic, with lots of stringed instruments. It was going to be an amazing fucking record, and I’m a little bit angry at him for killing himself. He and I were going to record a trial run of the album, a demo tape. It was all set up. He had a plane ticket. He had a car picking him up. And at the last minute he called and said, ‘I can’t come.”

5. Friction between Kurt and Dave, as well as between Kurt and MTV, meant that the Unplugged In New York performance almost never happened.

nirvana unplugged almost never happened

Despite looking as though the production went off without a hitch, the performance almost never took place at all. Relations between Kurt and Dave were at an all time low. Grohl describes the mood in the run up to the gig:

“I had this small cocktail drum set and these really light sticks. In rehearsal, we would do a song, and Kurt would turn to me and say, ‘Hey, do you think you could play it a little bit lighter?’ ‘Oh yeah, I’ll try.’ So we’d do another take, and he’d turn around and go, ‘Could you bring it down just a little bit more?’ And we’d do another take, and he’d say, ‘You know what, just still, could you bring it down?’ And I was like, ‘Should I even fucking be here?'”

Grohl elaborated in a separate interview, saying:

“There were times when Kurt was really unhappy with the way I played drums. I could hear him talking about how much he thought I sucked.”

Meanwhile, the bigwigs at MTV were freaked out because they had learnt that Nirvana had no plans to perform Smells Like Teen Spirit. In fact, virtually all of their setlist was to be made up of obscure songs.

To add to that, Kurt announced that they would be accompanied by guest performers on the night, but instead of bringing on huge stars, the Kurt insisted they perform with relatively unknown The Meat Puppets. The show’s producer, Alex Coletti, describes the television network’s displeasure:

“I said to MTV, They’re going to bring some guests on.’ And at first everybody’s eyes lit up, like, ‘Who’s it gonna be?’ They wanted to hear the ‘right names’ — Eddie Vedder or Tori Amos…But when I said ‘the Meat Puppets,’ it was kind of like, ‘Oh, great. They’re not doing any hits, and they’re inviting guests who don’t have any hits to come play. Perfect.'”

6. Kurt was terrified of performing the unplugged set, without the raw power of his signature grunge sound behind him.

kurt cobain was terrified of performing unplugged

“He was terrified”, said production manager Jeff Mason when describing Kurt Cobain’s demeanour in the run up to the show. When speaking to MTV’s Amy Finnerty before the show, Cobain even said “I’m scared”.

In one of the band’s dress rehearsals, Kurt even said at one point, “Amy, can you sit in the front when we play? You and Janet and everyone I know? ‘Cause I hate strangers.”

Without the raw, amplified grungy power of the 90’s behind him, the most celebrated frontman of the decade was showing a reservation that very few had ever seen in him before.

The band’s tour manager, Alex MacLoed, said:

“It was the first time in a long while I’d seen them all so nervous about doing something. They were really nervous about doing Unplugged, because they were really leaving themselves wide open.

They were like ‘Oh my God, we haven’t rehearsed enough. Oh shit, we’re gonna blow this totally.'”

7. Dave Grohl has said that My Hero from the 1997 Foo Fighters album The Colour & The Shape was about Kurt.

dave grohl says my hero is about kurt cobain

Too alarming now to talk about
Take your pictures down and shake it out
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He’s ordinary

Don’t the best of them bleed it out
While the rest of them peter out
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He’s ordinary

Kudos, my hero
Leaving all the best
You know my hero
The one that’s on

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He’s ordinary
There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He’s ordinary

8. Before forming Nirvana, one of Kurt’s earlier bands was the short-lived Fecal Matter.

In 1985, when Kurt Cobain was 18,  he formed the band with Dale Crover of The Melvins, with Buzz Osbourne of The Melvins joining later.

Given the band’s less than radio-friendly name, Fecal Matter never went on to great things. However, we are able to get an early glimpse into Kurt’s grunge sound in their only known demo recording.

After hearing the Fecal Matter demo, Krist Noveselic – whom Kurt had wanted to form a band with for some time – agreed to join him and Nirvana was born.

9. Kurt’s middle name is Donald.

kurt cobain portrait

Kurt takes his middle name from his father, Donald Leland Cobain, an automotive mechanic from Aberdeen, Washington.

10. Kurt wrote an entire solo album which has never been released.

eric erlandson claimed kurt cobain wrote an unreleased solo album

In an interview, Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson said that he had heard a lot of material from Kurt’s unreleased solo album when Kurt performed it for him.

“He was headed in a direction that was really cool. It would have been his ‘White Album’. That’s really what he was going towards, a solo album but working with different people.

I was really excited about some of the stuff he was working on. I got to see him play it in front of me. That’s why I was really sad when he died. He was cut short. Who knows where this music would have gone?

There is one cover. I won’t say what it is. I don’t own the stuff. I just hope that one day it will be released for fans. It’s just so heartbreaking. It’s not surprising. It’s a very sweet, just touching song.”

11. In 1993, Kurt overdosed on heroin and still performed later that night as if nothing had happened.

kurt cobain facts

Former Nirvana PR man, Anton Brookes, has spoken of how on 23rd July 2993, Cobain was found “slumped behind the toilet of his hotel room in New York”.  This happened while the band was promoting In Utero and journalists were waiting in the hotel lobby to discuss the new album with the band.

Brookes described how man with heroin arrived at the hotel.

“You knew what was happening and you knew what that guy was there for and you knew what the outcome of that would be. The next day was when we were supposed to do press, and it was just a nightmare from start to finish, really.”

The arrival of the heroin kicked off an intense argument between Kurt and Courtney.

“I was upstairs, and suddenly the screaming, or the arguments, changed. We realised we should go in. We went rushing into the bathroom and slumped behind the toilet was Kurt with a syringe in his arm, blue.”

I spite of his OD, Kurt went on to do a full day of press and even performed later that evening.

12. As you drive into Kurt’s hometown, Aberdeen, the welcome sign reads “Welcome To Aberdeen. Come As You Are”.

welcome to aberdeen come as you are

The town that Kurt was born in honoured their most famous and celebrated son by updating the welcome sign.

13. Kurt was listening to the R.E.M. album, Automatic For The People when he committed suicide.

kurt cobain was listening to rem when he committed suicide

While the incident report of the scene of Kurt’s death, as well as the evidence log make no mention of a CD player, it is a relatively well accepted rumour that Kurt had Automatic For The People in his CD player at the time of his death.