This is why Kurt Cobain hated Nirvana song 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'
(Credit: Subpop)

Revisit four extremely rare Nirvana demo tapes leaked online by Kurt Cobain’s close friend

At a time when millions of people are forced to stay home amid strict social distancing measures, we’re dipping back into the Far Out archives to keep us entertained.

A couple of years ago four extremely rare Nirvana demo tapes, which surfaced online having been shared by musician John Purkey, a friend of the late Kurt Cobain, and they offer a glimpse into the origins of the now-iconic band.

Purkey claims that the demos were personally given to him by Cobain. On one tape, a demo of ‘Bleach’ which was recorded during the band’s first-ever session at Reciprocal Studios in Seattle in 1988 and features Melvins drummer Dale Crover is on the drums.

Another tape, which features demos from Nevermind, includes samples recorded by first Nirvana drummer Chad Channing who was eventually replaced by Dave Grohl.

Purkey, who played in many bands around Tacoma during the group’s early years, claimed that he hid the rare cassettes inside a metal box which was then hidden inside a second metal box for years. 

In total, the demos stretch well over two hours, despite one having being stolen from a friends car.

Check them all out, below.

Tape One

Purkey explains: “This is the first tape Kurt gave to me. Sound quality is not perfect but it’s not too bad. It is listenable. Paper cuts sounds a little warbaly at first and that is exactly how it was when Kurt gave it to me. I got used to it. It slowly becomes clear sounding.”

Tracklisting:

  • 0:37 – ‘Paper Cuts’
  • 05:02 – ‘Downer’
  • 06:53 – ‘Beeswax’
  • 09:52 – ‘Aero Zeppelin’
  • 14:34 – ‘Floyd the Barber’
  • 17:02 – ‘If You Must’
  • 21:12 – ‘Spank Thru’
  • 24:57 – ‘Mexican Seafood’
  • 27:04 – ‘Pen Cap Chew’
  • 30:06 – ‘Montage of Heck’

Tape Two

Tracklisting:

  • 00:47 – ‘Blandest’
  • 04:36 – ‘Mr. Moustache’
  • 08:23 – ‘Sifting Instrumental’
  • 13:51 – ‘Blew’
  • 16:53 – ‘Spank Thru’
  • 20:07 – ‘Love Buzz’ (Early Single Version?)
  • 23:54 – ‘Big Cheese’

Tape Three

Purkey explains: “This was the tape he gave me after they recorded songs for what would become Bleach.”

Tracklisting:

  • 00:00 – ‘Intro’
  • 01:39 – ‘Scoff’
  • 06:02 – ‘Swap Meet’
  • 09:17 – ‘Blew’
  • 12:24 – ‘Love Buzz’
  • 16:11 – ‘About a Girl’
  • 19:26 – ‘Negative Creep’
  • 22:02 – ‘School’
  • 24:51 – ‘Big Long Now’

Tape Four

Purkey says: “Recorded with Chad produced by Butch Vig. I think it is known as the smart studio demo. Kurt started high speed dubbing at the beginning of pay to play. [You] can hear a slight glitch when he pressed the high speed button.”

Tracklisting:

  • 00:00 – ‘Intro’
  • 00:44 – ‘Immodium’
  • 04:04 – ‘Pay to Play’
  • 07:39 – ‘Sappy’
  • 11:17 – ‘Polly’
  • 14:19 – ‘In Bloom’
  • 19:00 – ‘Lithium’ (Mix 6)
  • 23:31 – ‘Dive’

Finally, here’s Cobain’s friend Purkey explaining his friendship with the Nirvana frontman and how he came into possession of the tapes.

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