On the 5th of April 1994, Kurt Cobain took his own life in the greenhouse of his mansion. 24 years later we devote this post to the possible tension there was between him and his drummer. This is rumored on the internet, mainly because of two things:
1. While on a plane in 1993 Dave overheard Kurt saying that he didn’t like Dave’s drumming, that he should play the drums more like the drummer from Mudhoney. Dave tried to quit the band immediately, but was talked out of it. Kurt probably never knew Dave tried to quit the band.
2. Kurt tried to do MTV unplugged without Dave. This is a fact. Maybe because he thought Dave would be too loud, but apparently also because he wasn’t happy about Dave’s drumming. Dave was afraid he would be kicked out of the band. He also said that Kurt and Krist were so close, it was hard to be part of the band. On MTV unplugged you can hear Kurt ask: ‘am I going to do this song by myself?’ and Dave replies, clearly annoyed, but trying to sound nice: ‘yeah, yeah, do it by yourself’. Nirvana went through a bunch of drummers, the most famous one, apart from Dave, is Chad Channing, who, according to Kurt couldn’t keep time. Kurt said: ‘it’s very frustrating to be in a band with a drummer who can’t keep time’.
Also, Courtney Love likes to say that Kurt hated Dave, but perhaps she’s not to be considered a reliable source. She also claims Dave is playing a fake guy who pretends to be always super nice. But what if he is really just a nice guy?
Fact is that Dave always says nice things about Kurt. If Kurt hated Dave, then Dave is definitely very nice about a guy who couldn’t stand him…
He has publicly stated that Kurt taught him a lot about writing songs, that he was easy to be around with, that he would never intentionally make you feel bad, etc. But Kurt was a complicated guy…
About Kurt’s death:
“It was probably the worst thing that has happened to me in my life. I remember the day after I woke up and I was heartbroken that he was gone. I just felt like, ‘Okay, so I get to wake up today and have another day, and he doesn’t.'” [Radio 1, 2009]
“When Kurt died, I was lost. I was numb. The music I had devoted my life to had now betrayed me. I had no voice. I turned off the radio. I put away my drums. I couldn’t bear to hear someone else’s voice singing about pain, or joy.” [At his SXSW Keynote, 2013]
About Kurt’s personality:
“Kurt was so many different things. He was funny or shy or this outgoing, larger-than-life persona. He could be sweet or he could be fucking wicked. He could be intimidating.” [Rolling Stone, 2005]
‘Living with Kurt was funny. He isolated himself in a lot of ways, emotionally. But he had a genuine, sweet nature. He never intentionally made you feel uncomfortable.” [Rolling Stone, 2013]
Purely my personal opinion
Kurt Cobain probably had a fragmented personality. He had so many conflicting values and desires (of which he felt guilty) that he was always looking for inner peace, something to feel comfortable. Was he a genuinely nice guy? Sure, but he also secretly wanted to be more like the macho guys he hated so much. He was a wrestler in school, and once qualified for the army. He hated losing face. And his nonchalant, I don’t care about anything, was an act. He cared deeply and was a total control freak. The only drummer he would probably have liked was either himself on drums or someone like Krist who did exactly what Kurt had in mind, those two were very attuned to each other, although clearly, Kurt was the dominant force, Krist was fiercely loyal and protective, something the shy, yet, attention seeking, -when he was in the mood for it-Kurt liked. In getting together with Courtney Love he probably wanted to express a part of himself that he struggled to express on his own, a more aggressive, perhaps vain, in your face side. Like he needed a more extravert partner. Courtney Love often says Kurt was a genius p, but he wasn’t able to make a taxi stop for him…
Did Kurt Cobain feel threatened when Dave started writing songs? For sure. Kurt was very insecure. He promoted a lot of bands, but he only promoted bands that could never in a million years become as popular as Nirvana. Although Dave Grohl sings the song Marigold with Nirvana, it’s highly unlikely that, as a member of Nirvana, Dave Grohl would have had much frontman, lead singer, opportunities. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kurt was trying to sabotage Dave Grohl, out of insecurity, and never to his face. When Kurt heard the delo ‘alone plus easy target’ Kurt kissed Dave on the face. Kurt just wasn’t the same person every day, and though he was a nice guy, he was also deeply insecure and easily felt threatened. Dave seems to have a more ‘take it as it comes’ attitude, Kurt was a total control freak, even though he liked to be seen as sloppy. Dave may also be smart enough to simply never say bad things about Kurt in public. Bottom line: Kurt probably was like the sun to someone he liked, as long as that person didn’t make him feel insecure, intentionally or non intentionally.