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Music

Rare footage of Kurt Cobain's touching exchange with a young fan

The discussion of the most important songwriters of all time always brings up the same names, Lennon, McCartney, Bowie, Dylan; you get the picture. Another one who invariably crops up is the late frontman of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, and for good reason. He was the ultimate champion of the jaded and the disillusioned, and without him, alternative culture would look very different from what we know today. 

Cobain was Generation X’s guiding light, and he illustrated that there was a way out of the darkness, through his music. The political and socio-economic challenges they faced could be alleviated by Nirvana, either by complete immersion in the music or through the lessons he taught in his songs. Such as do not conform, do not listen to your elders, do what you want, but always make sure your morals are never compromised. 

With the release of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ in 1991, Cobain and the two other Nirvana members, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, were fired to a ridiculous level of fame that a band had not experienced since The Beatles in the mid-’60s. However, with Cobain being the frontman and primary songwriter, it was he who had to shoulder the majority of the weight of the burden, and it was too much for one man to bear.

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It’s a testament to the work of Kurt Cobain that in his relatively short but consequential career, he singlehandedly wrote the rulebook for modern rock. Whether it be the dark surrealism of his lyrics, his scruffy aesthetics or even the quiet-loud-quiet dynamics that he robbed from the Pixies, many key facets that are now ubiquitous in alt-rock can be traced back to the Aberdeen native. 

It wasn’t just because of his artistry that Kurt Cobain enchanted everyone—it was also his personality, and it bled into everything he did. He was the ultimate anti-rockstar, a humble everyman who advocated virtuous causes.

Whether it be calling out alpha-male jocks who started frequenting Nirvana shows, vocally supporting women’s rights or challenging Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses for his many shortcomings, Cobain never forgot where he came from, and the world knew it. 

There are many reasons to love Kurt Cobain, but one of the most memorable and heartwarming came at Reading festival in 1992. After Nirvana’s iconic performance at the festival, Cobain met a fan, Craig, who simply could not believe his luck as he ran into his parents, who were speaking to the Grunge pioneer pressing him for some drumsticks. 

The young fan labelled Cobain “my hero” before saying in his incredibly affable English accent, “I like your wife Courtney mate, she’s brilliant.” Cobain, who clearly looks as if he has an engagement that he has to shoot off for, gets the crew to sort Craig out with a pair of drumsticks before definitively saying to the young fan, “don’t smoke, don’t smoke”, which is ironic, considering he has a cigarette in his mouth.

The young Craig is unphased by Cobain’s serious message and looks made up, as he cannot believe that he’s just met his idol, who is more cordial than he could have possibly imagined.

Watch the clip below.

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