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Why John Frusciante changed his opinion on Kurt Cobain


Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante knew Kurt Cobain relatively well, he had toured with Nirvana, and the singer’s death had a damaging effect on him. However, he wasn’t very kind to Cobain in the aftermath of the event, but, in the years since, Frusciante has changed his stance.

In 1991, Red Hot Chili Peppers undertook a tour that featured Nirvana as their special guests and included Pearl Jam as the opening act. Any of those acts were capable of being the headliner, and they’d go on to become three of the most culturally defining acts of the decade. Although Frusciante wasn’t initially impressed by Nirvana.

In an interview in 1994 after Cobain’s death, Frusciante brutally said: “I cried, I don’t know why, I don’t like his music or anything. You know it’s awful about his baby, I just I don’t want to talk about that. I just don’t think he has very many guts.”

At this time, Frusciante was dealing with his demons and fighting against his heroin addiction. This habit negatively impacted many areas of his life and caused him to say hurtful things which he likely didn’t mean, such as the comment about Cobain. This remark confirms that addiction transforms people into an ugly version of themselves.

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Recently, Frusciante, who is now clean, has been much more doting about Cobain. “Kurt Cobain is absolutely one of my favourite singers ever,” the guitarist revealed after a fan asked him if he preferred the Nirvana frontman’s voice to Janis Joplin’s.

He added: “I could listen to his voice forever. It’s just endlessly fun to listen to. It’s like a synthesiser; you just never know what sounds are going to come out of it. But Janis Joplin can make me cry at the drop of a hat. I could be listening to her, having a good time, and then all of a sudden start balling because she had a very powerful thing.”

Frusciante concluded: “I’m not wanting to say one person is better than another, but she’s about as effective singer emotionally as there could ever be.”

Perhaps, it’s only later in his life, with the privilege of a sober mind, that Frusciante has been able to appreciate the brilliance of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. He’d also recently lost his friend River Phoenix, who accidentally overdosed, which probably altered his perspective on life.

Alternatively, it’s also possible the guitarist reacted in such a hostile manner because he recognised a similar destructive path in himself to Cobain. Either way, it’s reassuring to see Frusciante has reassessed his opinion.

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