15 Details Of Kurt Cobain's Death That Take The Weird To Eleven
On April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain proved himself a liar when he lyrically swore that he didn’t have a gun, dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the greenhouse of his Seattle home. Well, probably. We’ll get to that, but conspiracy theories aren’t the only weird details of his death.
Suicide Ran in His Family
Two of Cobain’s uncles died of suicide, specifically by firearm, before his death. It inspired one of his cousins to become a mental health nurse decades before the most famous death in the family.
His Chronic Pain Was Likely a Factor
Cobain had chronic bronchitis and a mysterious stomach ailment that left him in constant pain so bad he could barely eat. Eerily, he remembered saying during Nirvana’s first European tour that he “never wanted to go on tour again until I have this fixed because I wanted to kill myself. I wanted to fucking blow my head off.” His only relief came from using heroin and the endorphin rush of performing, both of which were in jeopardy at the time of his death.
He Escaped Rehab Twice in the Days Leading to His Death
After an intervention in which his bandmates threatened to break up the band unless he went to rehab, Cobain reluctantly agreed, then got in a fist fight with Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic on the way there and ran off. A few days later, he actually was admitted to the facility, but the next day, he scaled a six-foot brick wall to get out. “We watch our patients really well, but some do get out,” a facility spokesperson somewhat concerningly said.
Police Took His Guns
In the 10 months before his death, police seized firearms from the Cobain residence twice, first after a “domestic disturbance” and then after his wife reported that he’d locked himself in a closet and threatened suicide. The guns were returned after the first incident, but after the second, the police decided they should maybe keep them.
He Had His Friend Buy the Gun
Between rehab flights, Cobain asked a friend to help him buy a gun because he was afraid the police would take it if it was in his name and, as he told the friend, he feared trespassers on his property. Apparently unaware of all the recent drama, his friend, explaining that Cobain “seemed normal” and he’d “loaned him guns before,” because they had a very different kind of friendship from most people.
But He Legally Bought the Ammo
The day after he Spider-Manned out of the California rehab, Cobain was back in Seattle, where he was picked up at home by a cab driver who said he asked him to take him somewhere he could buy shotgun shells because he was afraid of burglars. Twenty years later, a Seattle officer revealed that a receipt for $6.95 from a gun shop around the time and place the cab driver said he dropped Cobain off was kept in the case file. At least he got a good deal?
It Took Three Days For a Worker to Find His Body
It’s believed that Cobain died on April 5, but he wasn’t found until April 8, which seems weird, because you’d think the first place you’d look to find a world-famous rehab escapee would be his home. Apparently, people did, but they neglected to check the garage or its attached greenhouse until an electrician came to install the security lighting Cobain had ordered and saw his body through a window.
He Knew the Medical Examiner
One of Nirvana’s first 1988 concerts was booked by a man named Nikolaus Hartshorne, who later quit the music business … and became the King County assistant medical examiner. He ended up performing Cobain’s autopsy and thus playing a crucial role in the beginning and end of his career.
They Dragged Neil Young Into This
Cobain’s suicide note referenced the Neil Young lyric “It’s better to burn out than to fade away,” which was a pretty big blow to Neil Young. “It fucked with me,” he later wrote. “I, coincidentally, had been trying to reach him. I wanted to talk to him. Tell him only to play when he felt like it.” Let that be a lesson, kids: Don’t do anything drastic, because Neil Young might be trying to call you. A week after Cobain was discovered, Pearl Jam also quoted the song during their performance on Saturday Night Live in tribute to Cobain, which was nice, considering all the shit he talked about them.
No, He Wasn’t Too High
Let’s talk conspiracies, because admittedly, all this talk about Cobain being afraid of trespassers and burglars in the days before his death sounds pretty sus. One aspect of the case conspiracy theorists latch onto is the truly ridiculous amount of heroin found in Cobain’s system, which they claim would have left him too high to use a gun, but a doctor who was on the scene said it was possible depending on the user’s tolerance, and Cobain’s was legendary.
His Suicide Note Wasn’t Forged
Conspiracy theorists also point to the only part of Cobain’s suicide note that definitely hints at suicide, which looks like it could be someone else’s handwriting, but forensic analysis has contradicted the claim time and again.
Yes, His Mom Did Report Him Missing
They also claim that Cobain’s wife, the chief suspect in his supposed murder, impersonated his mother to file a missing person’s report in the days before his death, but his mother told reporters herself that she was the one who filed it.
There Was No Wave of Copycat Suicides
At the time, it was feared that Cobain’s suicide would inspire copycats in his devoted fans, and some people claim that it actually did, but experts have found that not only did the wave never materialize, suicide rates in Seattle actually decreased after his death.
Local News Misreported the Reopening of the Case
In 2014, rumors swirled on the internet that Seattle police were reopening the case of Cobain’s suicide, but it turned out a local news station had misinterpreted an officer’s statement that they were merely reexamining the case. What that essentially boiled down to was developing some rolls of film that showed nothing new and doing another read-through of the file as a little treat for Cobain’s fans on the 20th anniversary of his death because the Seattle police apparently have too much money.
The FBI Maintains a (Lackluster) Case File
In 2021, the FBI released its records on Cobain’s suicide, but anyone hoping it might contain something useful was bound to be disappointed. It’s just 10 pages of letters from people asking the Bureau to investigate his death and their polite responses that it’s actually not their jurisdiction.
Top image: Julie Kramer/Wikimedia Commons