We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to take a look back at two icons of rock meeting for a special backstage chat as Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and the Buzzcocks cross paths.
The fandom that surrounds Kurt Cobain knows no bounds. The late singer who lost his life to suicide back in 1994 is shrouded in mystery and mythology in equal measure. His life’s work and his departure from it has left his fans desperate to know his likes, dislikes, loves and hate. Well, rest assured, one thing he loved was punk stalwarts, the Buzzcocks.
One of the original punk bands that blew up in Britain in the late seventies and spread their DIY ethos across the globe, the Buzzcocks with their own genius songwriting frontman, the late Pete Shelley, were an undeniable force to be reckoned with.
In this footage from 1994, you get to see Cobain and Shelley interacting with one another backstage while Nirvana and the Buzzcocks were on tour. It offers an image of two incredible artists acknowledging the power of the other.
Following Shelley’s sad passing in 2018, a whole host of grunge royalty came out to pay tribute to the songwriter. Artists such as Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and so many more, all came offered up their respects to a legend and their undying gratitude for his work. It’s a testament to his music and his undeniable influence on both sides of the pond.
The singer wrote some of rock’s most notable songs like ‘Orgasm Addict’ and the iconic ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ all of which landed him in the pantheon of punk rock for many kids growing up in the late seventies and eighties. It clearly had an influence on a young Kurt Cobain who asked the band to open for Nirvana in 1994.
While Cobain didn’t pick any Buzzcocks albums for his favourite 50 LPs of all time, he clearly had a deep admiration for the band who blazed such a trail as the boys from Manchester.
The footage below was taken just a few short weeks before Cobain’s suicide and sees the singer in a jovial but withdrawn mood. The clip was shot during the European leg of the Nirvana tour and would see Cobain lose his life before the Buzzcocks even got back home.
As Steve Diggle tells the Clitheroe Advertiser, “When Nirvana played, Kurt wore a Buzzcocks beanie hat on stage. I said to him, ‘I’ll see you when we get to London’ and by the time we got back there it was all over the news that he was dead.”
The band’s sometime singer continues, “We’d been with him all week and while Kurt was a nice guy he was dealing with a lot of pressure. He seemed a tortured soul. I remember Kurt asking how we’d survived all these years. When you’re in a band you need to look after your soul.”
Adding: “It’s a great experience, a great exploration, but it takes its toll on people in many ways.”
Sadly, that is what we are seeing in this footage, the toll certainly being taken on Cobain. While he chats with Shelley (the frontman drinking champagne as you might hope) the pair cover a few interesting subjects such as pissing in the shower, wordplay and the upcoming mega-festival Lollapalooza.
Mostly, the thing we take from the footage is that Kurt Cobain, by the end of his short but impactful life, was at the end of his tether both emotionally and physically.
Watch the footage below as Kurt Cobain and Pete Shelley share a few moments backstage with the Buzzcocks.