For the lovers of Nirvana, for a musical generation, Kurt Cobain’s death in April of 1994 was the same sort of blow to the psyche that the murder of a vibrant President had been for earlier generations in 1963. Not long out of a drug rehabilitation facility, Cobain had died of an overwhelming heroin overdose and a self-inflicted gunshot wound, all at the same time, said the Seattle police.
There was anguish, disbelief, and over time the tragedy of “copycat suicides” emerged. If this was Kurt Cobain’s way out of a painful world, then perhaps….
But almost immediately a countervailing theory emerged. How could someone with an ultra-lethal level of heroin in their system even hold and fire a shotgun, and why would they depart that way, rather than float off gently on an opiate? Why did the fingerprint evidence not add up, why did the “suicide note” found at the scene seem so odd? Tom Grant, a private investigator hired by Kurt’s wife, Courtney Love, came to believe that Kurt’s “suicide” was staged, and the more he learned, the worse the situation smelled. The police had made the classic mistake, he believed, of assuming a suicide based on rumor or demographics–one more rock star with a drug problem has killed himself. But the hundreds of millions of dollars–in current and future earnings–of Cobain’s estate provided adequate motive for murder.
The former Chief of Police of Seattle regrets the rush to judgement of 1994, saying it all should have been done differently. We may never see a case, a prosecution, develop after all these years. But in fact, the case for suicide does appear sketchy, much evidence suggests foul play, and the whole affair deserves sober analysis.
Just what happened, in the bleak rain of April in Seattle, to a generation’s icon, Kurt Cobain?