April 5 is the anniversary of the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in 1994. But 24 years later, conspiracies surrounding Cobain’s death remain.
On April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain, the 27-year-old lead singer of Nirvana, died. He committed suicide in a greenhouse above the garage of his Seattle home; a 20-gauge shotgun lay across his chest, while a suicide note was placed on top of a planter.
His body was found three days later, on April 8, by an electrician who arrived to install a security system. A co-worker of the electrician who found Cobain’s body called Seattle’s KXRX-FM with the scoop of the century. Eventually, the whole world found out.
The coroner ruled that Cobain, husband of rocker Courtney Love and father to then-one-year-old daughter Frances Bean Cobain, killed himself. His body was found to contain high traces of heroin and a small amount of diazepam. Cobain had also long suffered from clinical depression, having been diagnosed with it in high school.
While Cobain’s bandmates accept suicide as the official verdict, not everyone agrees. In fact, many of Cobain’s family, friends, and fans have expressed doubts, saying it’s simply not possible that he committed suicide. Even former Seattle Police Chief Norman Stamper called for the investigation into Cobain’s death to be reopened.
While many conspiracy theories blame Courtney Love for his death, a number of other conspiracy theories have emerged. Why? Because there are a lot of unanswered questions about the untimely death of Kurt Cobain. Even some of the most basic pieces of evidence, including his suicide note and the shotgun he used, have their inconsistencies.
Until all of these questions are answered, many will continue to wonder about who really killed Kurt Cobain.
Kurt Cobain: Stiff Woodies, Pen Cap Chew, Skid Row, Nirvana
Nirvana changed the face of rock, but the iconic band from the small timber town of Aberdeen, Washington wasn’t always known as Nirvana. Before opting for “Nirvana,” it went through a number of names, including “Stiff Woodies,” “Pen Cap Chew,” and “Skid Row.”
In 1985, the 18-year-old guitarist met bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, and the pair instantly bonded over their love of the punk-metal band Melvins. The two formed a band and after a revolving door of drummers, eventually settled on Chad Channing.
In 1989, Nirvana released their first record, Bleach. Famously recorded for just $606.00, it sold around 35,000 copies and showed the early primitive, dark, raw angst and melodic feel Nirvana came to be known for. The album has since gone on to sell close to two million copies.
It wasn’t until two years later, on September 24, 1991, when Nirvana, which now included Dave Grohl on drums, changed the world with their seminal album, Nevermind.
Fame Gets to Kurt Cobain
After an initial shipment of 50,000 copies, Nevermind continued to sell, mostly on the heels of the single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It eventually bumped new albums by U2, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks, and MC Hammer off the top of the charts.
The album went on to sell more than 30 million records worldwide, and propel the small-time band from Aberdeen, Washington into the biggest band on the planet.
Unfortunately, Kurt Cobain could not foresee what the price of that fame would be.
By early 1992, Cobain was disillusioned by the group’s success. He was a bona fide rock star and multi-millionaire, but was afraid Nirvana’s fans were missing the point of the band’s message.
Where MC Hammer was telling people they “can’t touch this,” Cobain was singing songs in support of social issues, including feminism and homosexuality.
Cobain even put this unease with some of his fans into his lyrics (from “In Bloom”):
He’s the one
Who like all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don’t know what it means
Don’t know what it means
And from the linear notes to the 1992 compilation album Incesticide:
“At this point I have a request for our fans. If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us – leave us the f**k alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.”
Cobain’s relationship with Courtney Love, lead singer of the band Hole, was also fodder for the gossip columns.
Façade Starts to Crack
Nirvana continued to rule the airwaves and so-called “grunge” music was even influencing the catwalks in Paris. But cracks were starting to appear that would eventually portend the demise of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana.
Cobain long had issues with drugs and depression (he was prescribed Ritalin as a child). He also had chronic stomach pain that he said would make him vomit and want to kill himself. He would self-medicate with heroin, which brought him temporarily relief, but his addiction blossomed.
His addiction to heroin escalated during the recording of Nevermind, and questions about his health remained when Nirvana returned to the studio in 1993 to record their follow up album, In Utero.
On May 2, 1993, Kurt Cobain overdosed on heroin in his Seattle home. Love called police and injected Cobain with buprenorphine, an illegal drug used to revive someone after a heroin overdose. Love told Seattle police that this happened before.
One month later, on June 4, Cobain was charged with domestic assault after Love called police while they were arguing over guns in the house. He was booked on domestic assault. Cobain spent three hours in jail, with police also confiscating three guns found at the home. Cobain later admited that the fight was not over guns, but his drug use.
Two months later, on July 23, Cobain overdosed again. Love found him on the bathroom floor of the New York hotel they were staying in. He recovered and played that night at the Roseland Ballroom; fans were none the wiser.
Over the ensuing months, Cobain became increasingly withdrawn and, according to friends, suffered dramatic mood swings.
On September 14, Nirvana’s third album, In Utero, was released. Cobain swore he would not “go on any more long tours” unless he could keep his stomach pains from acting up. But the band went on to perform a large number of U.S. dates and interviews.
On February 2, 1994, Nirvana left for Europe; they began their In Utero tour in Lisbon, Portugal three days later. In early March of that year, Nirvana performed their last show in Munich, Germany. Cobain lost his voice halfway their show.
A specialist told Cobain he had to rest his voice for at least a couple months. Nirvana performed 15 shows, with the remaining 23 being postponed. The rest of the band members did their own thing while Cobain stayed in Europe.
Rome: March 4, 1994
Kurt Cobain checked himself into the five-star Excelsior Hotel in Rome on March 3. The next day, he was joined by Courtney Love, Frances Bean, and Cali (one of Frances Bean’s nannies, whose real name is Michael DeWitt).
That evening, Cobain had the hotel bellboy fill a prescription for Rohypnol. He also ordered up champagne. At 6:30 a.m. the following morning, Love found Cobain unconscious.
The incident was portrayed as an accident, but it was later revealed that as many as 50 pills were found in Cobain’s stomach. Janet Billig of Gold Mountain Entertainment, who managed Courtney Love’s band Hole, says a suicide note was found, but Cobain insisted it wasn’t one. Rather, it was more of a farewell note; Cobain “took all of his and Courtney’s money and was going to run away and disappear.”
Cobain was rushed to the Umberto I Polyclinic Hospital and underwent emergency treatment before being transferred to the American Hospital. He woke from his coma 20 hours later. The couple then returned to Seattle.
The Hectic Month before Kurt Cobain Committed Suicide
It didn’t take long for the troubles of Rome to follow Kurt Cobain back to Seattle. On March 18, while still recuperating, he and Love got into another fight. Love called police after Cobain locked himself into a room with a 38-caliber revolver and said he was going to shoot himself. Seattle police confiscated four guns that night, along with some pills. Later, Cobain confided in Love, telling her he wasn’t really going to kill himself.
The events of March 18 clearly shook Love, and she was in fear for his life. She, along with family members, bandmates, and friends, decided to conduct an intervention. However, someone tipped Cobain off and the intervention had to be cancelled.
March 25: A Final Intervention
Courtney Love and around 10 friends gathered together to attempt an intervention with another intervention counselor. The friends included bandmates Pat Smear and Krist Novoselic, Nirvana band manager John Silva, Janet Billig, and friends Dylan Carlson and Danny Goldberg.
Love threatened to leave Cobain while Smear and Novoselic said they would quit the band if Cobain didn’t check into rehab.
At the end of the first day of the two-day process, Love, who hoped to coax Cobain to fly back to her with Los Angeles so they c