10 Things You Never Knew About Kurt Cobain

Nirvana’s tortured genius laid bare...

There is a lot about fated American icon Kurt Cobain that finds its way to the internet every time there's a reason to remind oneself of his talents – be that an anniversary of creation, or a passing. In memory of Nirvana’s tortured genius, here are 10 stories that add to his legend…

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Nirvana, 'Come As You Are'

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In his first year of school, Cobain was known as the inquisitive student with the Snoopy lunchbox, one of the only children bold enough to pose for a photo with a bear cub that was brought in for show-and-tell.

In middle school, Cobain began playing the drums in the school band – music was his favourite class. The band director remembered him as being a fairly run-of-the-mill student – not particularly extraordinary as far as musical talent goes, but not the worst.

At age 14, Cobain announced to a schoolmate that he would be a superstar musician, get rich and famous, kill himself and go out in a blaze of glory like Jimi Hendrix. Neither boy realised Hendrix’s death wasn’t suicide.

Suicide surrounded Kurt from early on in his life. There were several within his family, and when Cobain was about 13, he and a schoolmate came across a corpse hanging from a tree after a kid hanged himself outside of the elementary school. Cobain and his classmates stared for 30 minutes before school officials sent them on their way.

In the small town of Aberdeen, Washington, Cobain had to be crafty about getting alcohol while underage, so he and his friends arranged a deal with a morbidly obese alcoholic. They wheeled the man to the store in a grocery cart and gave him money to buy them beer. In exchange, they paid for malt liquor for him.

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Nirvana, 'About A Girl' (MTV Unplugged)

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One of Cobain’s favourite foods was Kraft-brand macaroni and cheese. Despite his request, caterers in Atlanta once created a macaroni shells, jack cheese and jalapeños meal, assuming it was close enough. It wasn’t – what the catering managers got instead was Courtney Love, demanding “What the fuck are jalapeños and jack cheese doing in this macaroni?” and then promptly dumping it in the trash.

Cobain jumped from job to job for a time after dropping out of high school, including one at a YMCA. One night, just for fun, he and his friends tagged that particular YMCA. The next day at work, Cobain was assigned the task of washing it off. Poetic.

After the release of Nirvana’s first single, ‘Love Buzz’, in 1988, Cobain gave a copy to the college radio station KCMU, and then remained tuned in to his car radio all day to hear it. When he didn’t immediately hear it, he pulled off the road, found a pay phone and requested it himself.

Despite partaking in his fair share of risky behaviours, Cobain could not be accused of being an unsafe driver. On Nirvana’s first tour in bassist Krist Novoselic’s van, everyone was put in a driving rotation except Cobain because everyone thought he drove too slowly. In fact, then-girlfriend Tracy Marander recalls him driving “like a little old lady”.

The first time Courtney Love and Cobain slept together, his wife-to-be was surprised to discover that he wore zebra-print briefs for underwear. She informed him he should be wearing boxers, and, though slightly abashed, from that point on he did.

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Nirvana, 'In Bloom'

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Words: Kat Patke

Reading Clash for the first time? Like Nirvana? Get more content on the band, and Kurt, here.

More 10 Things… articles, here.

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