Neil Young said, “It’s better to burn out than fade away.”
Ironically the ‘Grungefather’ is still rocking in the free world while most of his grunge progeny have faded away. Pearl Jam remain at the top of their game and are still as vibrant as the day they burst onto the Seattle scene, Soundgarden have reformed to less than glorious response while the iconic Nirvana died the day their talismanic front man, Kurt Cobain, injected lead into his cranium through a 12-guage syringe after shooting up what Bill Hicks would call a ‘heroic dose’ of heroin.
Cobain was a known bi-polar sufferer and his lyrics painted the picture of a man completely at odds with himself. While their live shows were often hit or miss due to Cobain’s state of mind on the day, they nonetheless forged a huge following thanks to their catchy songs delivered through the medium of a raucous, chaotic three-piece.
Dying was probably the best thing that could have happened for Cobain’s career as it instantly elevated him to legendary status. Even now kids born after his death are proudly sporting Nirvana tops and talking about their troubled singer as if they knew him personally.
In truth he was no martyr; just a desperately unhappy man who hated the celebrity status heaped on him by his band’s success. He wasn’t prepared for the waves of attention that flooded his life after they sold out to a major label and Nevermind was really the beginning of the end for the crest-fallen drug addict.
His misery was further fuelled by his relationship with Courtney Love who was a proponent of the original punk movement and the second most famous groupie to the Sex Pistols.
After previous suicide attempts, most notably a year prior to his death through a massive heroin overdose, Kurt Cobain opted out of life. Nobody was particularly surprised by his death at the time – shocked, yes. As a musician he was nothing exceptional, not outstanding ability wise, and although he penned catchy songs his poetry was too self-indulgent to be anything other than obscure ramblings to any outsiders.
Cobain never changed the world and probably never saved anyone’s life; least of all his own, so the elevation to saint is baffling. Like Sid Vicious before him, all he was really famous for was excess and suicide.
Love him or hate him, he did at least follow Neil Young’s philosophy, and in burning out he has never faded away.
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Read about other untimely deaths including Jimi Hnedrix; River Phoenix; Heath Ledger; Brittany Murphy and Brad Renfro.
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