Remembering Kurt Cobain, Who Died 30 Years Ago Today

A selection of prints by Michel Linssen from the Redferns collection, depicting Kurt Cobain playing the guitar in a recording studio, pictured at the Getty Images Hulton Archive, London E16, 12th September 2023.
Chris Furlong/Getty Images

If you really want to feel the passage of time, just remember: Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain took his own life 30 years ago today, on April 5, 1994.

The subject of many biographies, films and conspiracy theories, 27-year-old guitarist/singer Kurt Cobain will forever remain a pop culture icon alongside many other musicians who have died far too young: Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly and Jim Morrison, just to name a few.

American singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain (1967 - 1994), performs with his group Nirvana at a taping of the television program 'MTV Unplugged,' New York, New York, Novemeber 18, 1993.

Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

Originally from Aberdeen, WA, Cobain formed the grunge trio in 1987 alongside Krist Novoselic (who I met once in 2007 wandering around downtown Portland, heading into a dive bar to play bass with the fellow 90s grunge band Flipper) and Chad Channing, who would later be replaced by future Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl in 1990. Their first album, Bleach, was somewhat successful locally but they shot to stardom after the release of the 1991 album Nevermind. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would go on to be the anthem of a generation.

Cobain did not handle the sudden fame well, or perhaps, he did not handle life well generally and the fame and fortune did not help, giving him access to money and drugs, a predilection for which would later develop into a severe heroin addiction. In 1992, he married fellow grunge musician Courtney Love, which was a tumultuous romance that often made headlines. Together they had a daughter named Frances Bean Cobain (who recently married Tony Hawk‘s son, Riley Hawk — so 90s!). On April 8, 1994, his body was found in the greenhouse of his Seattle home. His cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot.

The nation mourned, and Cobain was inducted posthumously to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is still considered one of the greatest guitar players and singers of all time. A new book of mostly never-before-seen photos of his home life with wife Courtney Love and baby Frances is forthcoming later this year.

More Of This: