Kurt Donald Cobain was an American musician who was best known as the lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter of the grunge band Nirvana. Cobain formed Nirvana with Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1985 and established it as part of the Seattle music scene, having its debut album Bleach released on the independent record label Sub Pop in 1989.
After signing with major label DGC Records, the band found breakthrough success with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from its second album Nevermind (1991). Following the success of Nevermind, Nirvana was labeled “the flagship band” of Generation X, and Cobain hailed as “the spokesman of a generation”. Cobain, however, was often uncomfortable and frustrated, believing his message and artistic vision to have been misinterpreted by the public, with his personal issues often subject to media attention. He challenged Nirvana’s audience with its final studio album In Utero (1993). It did not match the sales figures of Nevermind but was still a critical and commercial success.
During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with heroin addiction, illness and depression. He also had difficulty coping with his fame and public image, and the professional and lifelong personal pressures surrounding himself and his wife, musicianCourtney Love. On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle, the victim of what was officially ruled a suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. The circumstances of his death at age 27 have become a topic of public fascination and debate. Since their debut, Nirvana, with Cobain as a songwriter, has sold over 25 million albums in the US, and over 75 million worldwide. Together with Nirvana band mates Novoselic and Dave Grohl, Cobain was posthumously inducted into theRock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, which was the first year in which the band was eligible.
Kurt Donald Cobain was born on February 20, 1967, at Grays Harbor Hospital in Aberdeen, Washington, to a waitress, Wendy Elizabeth (née Fradenburg) (born 1948), and an automotive mechanic, Donald Leland Cobain (born 1946). His parents were married on July 31, 1965 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. His ancestry included Irish, English, Scottish, and German. Cobain’s Irish ancestors migrated from Carrickmore, County Tyrone in the north of Ireland in 1875. Researchers have found them to have been shoemakers, originally named Cobane, who came from Inishatieve, a townland within Carrickmore parish, settling inCornwall, Ontario, Canada, and then in Washington. Cobain himself believed his family came from County Cork in southern Ireland. Cobain had one younger sister named Kimberly, born on April 24, 1970.
On his 14th birthday on February 20, 1981, Cobain’s uncle offered him either a bike or a used guitar. He chose the guitar. Soon, he was mastering Led Zeppelin’s power ballad”Stairway to Heaven”. Cobain began learning guitar with a few covers, including “Louie Louie”, The Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl”, and soon began working on his own songs. During high school, Cobain rarely found anyone with whom he could play music. While hanging out at the Melvins’ practice space, he met Krist Novoselic, a fellow devotee of punk rock. Novoselic’s mother owned a hair salon. Cobain and Novoselic would occasionally practice in the upstairs room of the salon. A few years later, Cobain tried to convince Novoselic to form a band with him by lending him a copy of a home demo recorded by Cobain’s earlier band, Fecal Matter. After months of asking, Novoselic finally agreed to join Cobain, forming the beginnings of Nirvana.