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How did Kurt Cobain Die? The Mystery Behind the Rockstar’s Death

how did kurt cobain die large image of kurt cobain on the cover of a record album
Image from Shutterstock.

Last updated on August 3rd, 2023 at 08:48 am

Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of 90s grunge band Nirvana, tragically died on April 5, 1994.  The musician committed suicide at his Seattle home with a 20-gauge shotgun. He left behind a suicide note, his wife, Courtney Love, and his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain

Kurt Cobain’s death shocked the music world and left countless fans devastated. Although many details surrounding his death remain unsettled, there are few details regarding what happened leading up to Kurt Cobain’s death. 

What Happened Leading Up to Kurt Cobain’s Death
Nirvana. Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Kurt’s Troubled Life

Kurt Cobain was born in Aberdeen, Washington, on February 20, 1967. 

After dropping out of high school, the young musician started following punk music. 

In 1985, Kurt Cobain formed a band called Fecal Matter with fellow Melvins bandmates Dale Crover and Greg Hokanson. 

Eventually, the band disbanded, leading to Kurt Cobain starting Nirvana with fellow punk rock devotee Krist Novoselic. 

Flash forward to the peak of Nirvana’s success, being called the “flagship band of Generation X.”

Despite being one of the most influential bands in the 1990s, Kurt Cobain hated the attention. 

He eventually turned to drugs and alcohol to escape his depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. 

On top of that, the guitarist suffered from chronic bronchitis and intense pain from an undiagnosed chronic stomach condition. 

Cobain’s First Suicide Attempt

Kurt Cobain often used heroin and inhalants in his later years. 

In March of 1994, the musician overdosed on Rohypnol. It was especially dangerous, as he was also drinking heavily at the same time.

This would later be considered by Courtney Love as his first suicide attempt.

Love would arrange an intervention with Cobain’s friends.

After resisting, Cobain agreed to undergo a detox program at a Recovery Center in LA. 

The staff at this facility were unaware of Cobain’s depression and suicidal tendencies, nor did they believe he was in a negative state of mind. 

They spent days talking with him about his problems, drug use, and happily playing with his daughter, Frances. 

By the end of March, Cobain escaped from rehab by jumping the wall of the establishment. 

Kurt Cobain’s Death
Courntey Love. Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons.

How old was Kurt Cobain when he died?

Kurt Cobain was 27 years old when he died, making him a part of the infamous 27 Club.

Days Surrounding his Death

On April 2, Cobain bought firearm shells, telling the cab driver he had recently been burglarized. 

Three days later, Kurt Cobain died by suicide. 

An electrician found Cobain’s body three days after, on April 8,  when he was installing security lighting at his Washington house. 

Around him, a suicide note which was addressed to Cobain’s childhood imaginary friend Boddah.

The note read he had not “felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing … for too many years now.”

The toxicological tests determined that Kurt had large amounts of valium in his bloodstream. 

While this was happening, rumors of Nirvana breaking up quickly spread, leaving the band to pull out of the 1994 Lollapalooza lineup. 

A vigil took place on April 10, 1994, held at a park at Seattle Center. 


Portions of his suicide notewere played at the memorial. Love showed up towards the vigil’s end and passed some of Cobain’s clothing to attendees. 

Nirvana’s drummer Dave Grohl said learning of Cobain’s death was “Probably the worst thing that has happened to me in my life.”

Cobain’s mother arranged his final ceremony on May 31, 1999, attended by both Love and Tract Marander (Cobain’s ex-girlfriend who “About a Girl” was written about)

Kurt’s daughter Frances scattered his ashes into McLane Creek. 

Following his death, several artists expressed shock. 

“I never knew Cobain to be suicidal,” said longtime-friend Mark Lanegan. “I just knew he was going through a tough time.”

kurt cobain with his child and nirvana
Image from Shutterstock

Searching for the Truth

Unfortunately, due to the severity of the situation, many believe his death wasn’t a suicide. 

As a result of Cobain’s sudden death, many conspiracies have been spread, mainly revolving around Courtney Love. 

​Tom Grant, a private investigator hired by Love, believes he was murdered. 

Grant says the events surrounding Cobain’s death to be “filled with lies, contradictions in logic, and countless inconsistencies.

Another conspiracy theory comes from filmmaker Nick Broomfield. 

In his film Kurt & Courtney, Broomfield interviewed The Mentors’ bandleader Eldon “El Duce” Hoke, who claimed that Love had offered him $50,000 to kill Cobain.

Ultimately, Broomfield has accepted the idea that Cobain had committed suicide. 

Like Broomfield, journalists Ian Halperin and Max Wallace decided to investigate their theory. 

The two released two books: Who Killed Kurt Cobain? and Love and Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain.

While there wasn’t enough evidence to conclusively prove foul play, the two shared his belief that Love had a motive.

Friends and Family Still Unsure

Even after 30 years after his death, many still question and wonder what really happened to Kurt Cobain. Several other friends and family also believe Cobain wouldn’t have done this time himself. 

Love’s father, Hank Harrison, and rock band, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon have expressed their doubts about his death. 

“Kurt died in a very harsh way.,” Gordon told Uncut Magazine in 2005. “It wasn’t just an OD. He actually killed himself violently.”

“It was so aggressive, and he wasn’t an aggressive person, he was a smart person, he had an interesting intellect,” Gordon continued.

Others, such as former Nirvana manager, Danny Goldberg, slammed the theories. 

“It’s ridiculous,” Goldberg told The Guardian in 2015. “He killed himself. I saw him the week beforehand, he was depressed.”

“He tried to kill himself six weeks earlier, he’d talked and written about suicide a lot, he was on drugs, he got a gun,” Goldberg said. 

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Kurt Cobain’s death, his music has and continues to inspire millions.

Written by Joey Reams


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