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Within a month, we’ll mark the 30th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, the “Spokesman of a Generation” who forever changed music history with his charisma, lyrics, guitar riffs, and anti-establishment fervor. Kurt Cobain’s music, both interventionist and profound, is a rarity in today’s music scene.

In this article, we’ll share 10 surprising facts about Kurt Cobain’s life that you may not be aware of. As an avid fan of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, I discovered some of these facts during my research. It’s fascinating to uncover the backstory of a legend and learn details that humanize our heroes, showing they’re just as mortal as the rest of us.


1. Kurt Cobain Worked as a Swimming Instructor for Pre-School Kids


Kurt Cobain was born in the city of Aberdeen, which for several decades suffered from economic decline and increased unemployment rates. As a troubled adolescent with academic struggles, Kurt Cobain had to find some jobs and money to survive. One of those jobs was teaching children in a swimming pool.

Although essentially a janitorial role, Kurt occasionally filled in as a lifeguard or activity leader for absent employees. Kurt Cobain particularly enjoyed interacting with the children. Although not a strong swimmer himself, Kurt found satisfaction in supervising young children


2. Two of Kurt’s Uncles Committed Suicide


A shadow of tragedy loomed over Kurt Cobain’s family history. At the young age of 12, Kurt Cobain was struck by the suicides of two close relatives: his great-uncle Burle, who took his own life with a gunshot wound to the stomach and head, and shortly after, his great-uncle Kenneth, who also died by suicide from a gunshot wound to the head.


3. AC/DC’s “Back In Black” Was the First Song Kurt Cobain Learned to Play on Guitar


Fueled by a passion for music, 14-year-old Kurt Cobain received his first electric guitar from his uncle Chuck in 1981. Kurt carried the guitar with him everywhere, eagerly practicing. Kurt Cobain’s initial efforts focused on mastering iconic rock anthems like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and AC/DC’s “Back in Black.”


4. Kurt Cobain Nearly Enlisted in the Navy, Going as Far as Meeting With a Recruiter


In 1985, 18-year-old Kurt Cobain was grappling with the turbulence of adolescence. Facing homelessness for the third time in two years, the harsh reality of limited options settled in. Unemployment loomed large in his hometown, making stable, well-paying jobs scarce for a young man who had dropped out of Aberdeen High School. This challenging situation even led Kurt to consider joining the Navy.

Kurt Cobain even went as far as meeting with a recruiter to explore this potential path.


5. Before Nirvana, Kurt Was in a band known as Fecal Matter


Before Nirvana’s formation, Kurt Cobain’s musical journey began with Fecal Matter, a short-lived band formed in 1985. Facing personal struggles, Kurt found solace in music, collaborating with friends on raw, punk-influenced songs.

Their sole recording, “Illiteracy Will Prevail”, captured Kurt’s early songwriting talent and foreshadowed the angst that would define Nirvana. Though Fecal Matter never performed live, the demo tape, featuring tracks like “Spank Thru,” became crucial.


6. Kurt Cobain Had a Tattoo


Kurt Cobain had a small “K” inside a shield, tattooed on his left arm. It was the logo of K Records (an indie label in Olympia, Washington), whose motto was “exploding the teenage underground into passionate revolt against the corporate ogre since 1982.” The label had a very anti-mainstream, do-it-yourself attitude.

It was 1990 when Dave Grohl, who lived in an apartment with Kurt, taught him how to do tattoos, using a needle and some Indian ink. However, Kurt decided to go to a tattoo artist in Olympia at the last minute.


7. Kurt Cobain’s Favorite Album of All Time Was The Stooges’ Raw Power

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Similar to having a favorite band, Kurt Cobain also had a strong preference for a particular album. This album was Iggy and the Stooges’ “Raw Power.” Documented entries within Kurt Cobain’s journals, specifically from 1993, repeatedly mention “Raw Power” as his all-time favorite album. Furthermore, it holds the top spot on a list he compiled, detailing the 50 albums Kurt Cobain considered most influential in shaping Nirvana’s sound.


8. Kurt Cobain’s Favorite Book Was Patrick Süskind‘s “Perfume”

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Patrick Süskind’s Perfume, which Kurt Cobain told an interviewer that he’d read about ten times, was first published in 1985. The novel delves into the intriguing world of scent and its profound impact on human emotions and behavior.

Set in 18th-century France, the story follows Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an abandoned child with an extraordinary sense of smell who becomes obsessed with creating the perfect perfume. However, his pursuit leads him down a dark path of obsession and murder


9. Kurt Started Using Heroin to Alleviate Chronic Stomach Pain


Beyond the widely known struggles with depression and drug addiction, Kurt Cobain’s story also encompasses a lesser-known battle: chronic stomach pain. Documented in biographies and openly discussed in interviews, this severe condition significantly impacted his mood and daily life.

Further exploration suggests a potential link between Kurt’s chronic pain and his substance abuse. Heroin, while offering temporary relief from his physical torment, became a destructive coping mechanism with severe long-term consequences.


10.  According to His Parents, Kurt Cobain’s First Concert Was Sammy Hagar & Quarterflash


During Kurt Cobain’s teenage years in 1983, a significant moment occurred when he attended his first live concert, featuring Sammy Hagar and Quarterflash. While Kurt Cobain expressed a particular fondness for Quarterflash’s “Harden My Heart,” he later recounted another story, suggesting his first concert was with the punk band Black Flag.

However, despite this claim, historical accounts from Kurt’s schoolmates paint a different picture. They vividly remember Kurt arriving at school the day after the concert wearing a Sammy Hagar t-shirt, enthusiastically declaring that the show had been one of the best experiences of his life.




What Was Kurt Cobain’s Cause of Death?

Kurt Cobain’s cause of death, tragically, was ruled as suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. On April 5, 1994, his body was discovered at his home in Seattle, Washington, by an electrician who arrived for a scheduled security installation.

Kurt Cobain’s struggles with depression, chronic health issues, and substance abuse were widely documented, and his untimely death at the age of 27 left many grappling with the complexities of mental health and the pressures of fame.

His passing added him to the infamous “27 Club,” a group of musicians who tragically died at the age of 27, further cementing his legacy alongside other iconic figures such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison.


What Was Kurt Cobain’s Favorite Bands?

Here Are 5 Bands That Kurt Cobain Loved:

Bikini Kill: Kurt’s admiration for Bikini Kill extended beyond their empowering punk rock sound and feminist stance, resonating deeply with his support for women’s rights. His relationship with Tobi Vail, the band’s drummer, likely provided him with a personal connection to the band’s ethos and message.

The Buzzcocks: A pioneering British punk band, exerted a profound influence on Nirvana’s sound, particularly evident in their raw and powerful style. Kurt Cobain’s love for punk rock is vividly showcased through his admiration for The Buzzcocks.

The Buzzcocks’ first two LPs, “Another Music in a Different Kitchen” (1978) and “Love Bites” (1978), are quintessential examples of their early work. These albums epitomize the band’s energetic and hook-laden approach to punk, characterized by fast-paced rhythms, catchy melodies, and socially relevant lyrics. Tracks like “Fast Cars,” “I Don’t Mind,” and “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” exemplify their knack for blending infectious hooks.

Meat Puppets: The American rock band, held a special place in Kurt’s heart due to their unique fusion of punk and alternative music. This eclectic blend of genres resonated deeply with Cobain, as it mirrored Nirvana’s own musical experimentation on “MTV Unplugged in New York City,” where they covered three Meat Puppets songs: “Plateau,” “Oh, Me,” and “Lake of Fire”. These covers showcased Nirvana’s admiration for the Meat Puppets’ music.

The Melvins: Originating from Kurt Cobain’s hometown of Montesano, Washington state, played a pivotal role in shaping the grunge movement that would come to define the ’90s music scene. As pioneers of a distinctively sludgy and heavy sound, The Melvins laid the groundwork for what would later evolve into the signature grunge sound embraced by bands like Nirvana.

Kurt Cobain’s connection with The Melvins ran deep, extending back to his teenage years. He not only attended their shows but also worked as a roadie for the band at one point, immersing himself in their music.

The Vaselines: Kurt Cobain’s admiration for The Vaselines ran deep, reflecting his genuine appreciation for the Scottish band’s music. Despite The Vaselines’ relatively obscure status at the time, Kurt championed them as one of his all-time favorite bands, elevating their legacy within the alternative rock scene.

The Vaselines’ simplistic yet emotionally resonant songs struck a chord with Kurt Cobain, inspiring him to cover their tracks and introduce their music to a wider audience. Through electrifying renditions of songs like “Molly’s Lips” and “Son of a Gun,” featured on Nirvana’s outtakes collection “Incesticide,” Kurt paid homage to The Vaselines’ unique sound and songwriting prowess.

Moreover, Kurt’s admiration for The Vaselines extended beyond musical appreciation. In a poignant tribute to the band, Kurt named his daughter Frances Bean after Frances McKee, one of the members of The Vaselines.



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