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Kurt Cobain’s heroin use and suicide focus of It Happened Here

Kurt Cobain as a child with drums
Kurt Cobain was a keen musician from an early age, seen here playing the drums

This week It Happened Here spotlights Nirvana front-man Kurt Cobain’s tragic drug addiction and untimely death at his own hands.

Cobain was born in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1967 and showed an interest in music from an early age. At two he was singing little songs and by four he’d started to learn piano and, according to some of his family, had even written a few songs. He also had a talent for drawing and both of these artistic traits were nurtured by his extended family, several of who were artists or musicians.

However, his fairly idyllic family life was shattered when his parents divorced and found new partners. He later said that the divorce made him feel ashamed and the new setup, with two-step siblings and a newly born half-brother, meant he received far less attention than he was used to.

This later expressed itself in disruptive behaviour as a teenager and his father felt unable to cope with his son. He eventually ended up back with his mother, before being thrown out of the house and getting an apartment of his own.

He dated several women over this period, some of whom inspired famous Nirvana song like Tracy Marander and About a Girl. He soon became more and more involved in the music scene and in 1989 Nirvana’s first album Bleach was released on Sub Pop records. They followed this up with 1991 release Nevermind, which saw them on a major label and launched the band onto MTV and the world stage.

However, this was all against the background of Cobain’s ill health, something he sought to solve with drug use. He had chronic bronchitis, but it was an unknown stomach problem that caused him severe pain. Cobain first used marijuana when he was just 13 and continued to use it all his short life. He was also a user of acid and sometimes even solvents, with heavy alcohol abuse being a periodic event as well.

His heroin use started in the the 1980s and by the 1990s Cobain was an addict, with his drug use starting to impact Nirvana’s tours and other work. He often claimed that it stemmed from a need to relieve the stomach pains, but some close to him said the sore stomach was from the heroin use and not the other way around.

Following several alleged suicide attempts and an intervention in March, 1994, Cobain headed to Seattle. There were several sighting of the singer around the city before his body was discovered on April 8 by an electrician arriving to fit a new security system at the star’s Lake Washington Boulevard home. At first he thought Cobain was sleeping, but then saw a small amout of blood and noticed the shotgun. Cobain had killed himself, leaving a note behind addressed to the imaginary friend he had as a child and his wife Courtney Love.

The show also includes visits to numerous locations in Washington state where Kurt would get inspiration and find the peace he needed to write songs.

It Happened Here airs at 10:00 PM on REELZ.

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more
James Wray

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