Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain sits among the most iconic names in rock history thanks to his innovative work over the late 1980s and ‘90s to bring grunge music to the forefront of rock consciousness. However, memories of the icon’s musical achievements are often marred by those of his shocking and untimely suicide in April 1994.
Following Cobain’s death, a suicide note was found that he had written before pulling the trigger on himself. The final letter for his family, friends and fans hauntingly brandished the words, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away” from Neil Young’s classic 1979 track ‘Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)’.
This quotation led people to believe that the suicide was a bit to remain eternally relevant. Cobain saw a level of romanticism in an untimely death for an artist. However, this wasn’t the only issue at hand. Fame wasn’t a yoke that sat comfortably on Cobain’s shoulders. When coupled with his worsening addiction to heroin, the young star began to spiral dangerously out of control.
In his 2012 autobiography, Neil Young admitted that the suicide note had left him scarred. He wrote: “When he died and left that note, it struck a deep chord inside of me. It fucked with me.”
In a 2005 interview, Young revealed that – knowing Cobain wasn’t dealing with the rock and roll lifestyle all too well – he had tried in vain to reach out to the Nirvana frontman prior to his death. “He was forced to do tours when he didn’t want to, forced into all kinds of stuff. I was trying to get a hold of him – because I had heard some of the things he was doing to himself – just to tell him it’s OK not to tour, it’s OK not to do these things, just take control of your life and make your music. Or, hey, don’t make music. But as soon as you feel like you’re out there pretending, you’re fucked.”
Young concluded: “I think he knew that instinctively, but he was young, and he didn’t have a lot of self-control. And who knows what other personal things in his life were having a negative impression on him at the time?”
It also appears that Kurt’s mother, Wendy Cobain, was also perceptive of her son’s fragility even before the band’s rise to global acclaim with the 1991 release of the seminal album, Nevermind.
In an interview, Wendy once recalled the first time she 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.’”