Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain sits among the biggest names in rock history thanks to his innovative work over the late 1980s and ’90s that brought grunge music to the fore of rock music. However, memories of the icon’s musical achievements are often overshadowed by those of his shocking and untimely death in April 1994.
Cobain’s suicide was caused by a convergence of factors. His depressive mindset was ultimately taken to the brink due to his discomfort, or inability to deal, with fame. This perpetuated his dependency on heroin and other substances in a downward spiralling vicious circle – one from which he sadly never emerged.
In an interview with Kerrang following the success of 1991’s Nevermind, Cobain was asked how it felt to be “surrounded by so many people calling you the ‘next big thing’?”
“I think it’s embarrassing to have so many expectations of us,” Cobain replied. “It’s a total superficial label to put on a band, to state that they are the next big thing because it is a big let-down if the band doesn’t become the next big thing. And it’s not our goal in the first place. People are putting that tag on us without us really wanting to do that.”
“So you’re not prepared for that?” The interviewer asked. “No, we’re not,” Cobain insisted. “Because we’re not going to be. We’re prepared to destroy our career as it happens.”
The eerie response seemed to foreshadow the imminent end of Nirvana by self-destruction, at least on Cobain’s behalf. Long before his death in ’94, Cobain was known for his self-destructive lifestyle and substance abuse habits. These pre-existing conditions made his mother, among others, particularly worried about his surge of public exposure amid the release of Nevermind.
Wendy Cobain once recalled the time she first heard Nevermind. “He’s standing there with this tape in his hand, and I go ‘What’s that?’ And he goes, ‘It’s the master cut to my new album. Can I put it on the stereo?’ and I go ‘Yeah! And turn it up, up up!’ ’Cause I listen to music really loud,” Wendy said. “And I look at him and I go, ‘Oh my God!… Oh my God!’ and I almost start crying. Not from happiness… but from fear, it was fear. And I just went, ‘This is going to change everything’, and I said, ‘You’d better buckle up, because you are not ready for this.’”
In the previously mentioned Kerang interview, Cobain was asked about his various dabblings with illicit substances. He was notably candid in his responses.
The interviewer asked: “I’ve heard that you are also quite experienced with drugs. What was it like when you first tripped on LSD?”
Cobain: “I think I laughed too much. The next morning I woke up with a stomach ache because I laughed so hard.”
Interviewer: “Which other drugs have you tried?”
“I think I tried every drug available. PCP, Quaaludes…”
The interviewer asked one final question related to drug abuse before changing the subject. “Is there one drug experience you remember more than others?”
Cobain answered with a tone of negativity, explaining that “they all suck” before recalling his worst experience. “Quaaludes was probably the worst time I’ve ever had on a drug because I couldn’t control my balance. I didn’t feel good at all – I just tried to walk and kept falling down. And then I fell asleep. That wasn’t fun at all.”