Nirvana Lead Singer Kurt Cobain Found Dead at 27

1990s: Cobain's death spurs disc sales
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of rock band Nirvana, was found dead on April 5. He was 27.

Cobain’s body was found around 8:30 a.m. Friday in a room above the garage of the singer’s home in a fashionable Seattle area.

An electrician summoned to work on the home’s security system discovered the body and telephoned police before calling a local radio station to announce the discovery.

The guitarist/singer died from an apparent self-inflicted shotgun blast to the head. The gun was still on Cobain’s chest when the body was discovered. He had been dead for more than a day.

A suicide note was found nearby in an overturned plant. According to the note, excerpts from which were read at a memorial service Sunday, Cobain killed himself because he no longer felt the passion to go on with his music.

“I’m too much of an erratic, moody person, and I don’t have the passion anymore,” Cobain wrote in the note, read by his sobbing widow, Courtney Love, and played in a tape recording to about 3,000 grieving fans.

The singer was hospitalized last month in Rome after falling into a coma as a result of ingesting a mixture of prescription medication and champagne. The incident was believed to be a suicide attempt, but that was denied by the band’s management and record label.

“We are all devastated by the unbelievable tragedy of Kurt Cobain’s death,” Ed Rosenblatt, DGC/Geffen Records president, said in a statement. “The world has lost a great artist and we’ve lost a great friend — it leaves a huge void in our hearts.”

Cobain’s death was not officially announced until almost noon Friday, when the King County coroner’s office, using fingerprints to identify the body, released a statement confirming what had been speculated for several hours.

“An autopsy has shown Kurt Cobain died of a shotgun wound to the head, and at this time the wound appears to be self-inflicted,” the statement said.

Police sources said a toxicological test to determine if Cobain was under the influence of drugs was also performed, with the results expected later this week. A police spokesman said the death was ruled a suicide and there would be no further investigation.

As radio stations in Seattle and L.A. were helping listeners deal with the tragedy, retailers in the two cities were busy keeping the band’s albums on the shelves.

“It sounds ghoulish, but we’ve ordered another 200 copies of Nirvana’s (“In Utero”) album,” said a local record-store buyer who asked not to be identified.”I don’t want (the public) to think we’re taking advantage of a tragedy, but we’ve sold a lot of records since the news came out. We’ve probably moved twice the number of units we normally would have.”

The band’s first single, “Love Buzz/Big Cheese,” was released on Sub Pop in November 1988. The success spawned a full album, “Bleach,” released the following June.

These early recordings are also being targeted by collectors, while sales of the DGC/Geffen discs are reportedly brisk.

While retailers appear to be profiting after the singer’s death, the future of DGC — without its biggest act — is being discussed.

Industry sources agree that Cobain’s driving presence in the band makes it unlikely a replacement will be chosen. For all intents and purposes, industry insiders say, Nirvana is history.

Nirvana pioneered the grunge-rock genre, putting Seattle on the music industry map. The band found big-time success in 1991 with its major-label debut disc, “Nevermind.”

The album hit the top spot on the charts — twice — propelled by the teen anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and a world tour.

The band’s sophomore effort “In Utero” has sold more than 1 million copies since its debut at No. 1 on the pop charts in September, and was being supported by Nirvana’s recently canceled world tour. The cancellation fueled speculation that Cobain’s drug use was at issue.

Sources said friends had been successful in persuading Cobain to get treatment after the Rome incident, and some believed he was being treated during his weeklong disappearance. Cobain had been missing for six days at the time his body was found; his wife and the band’s management company had been unable to locate him.

“I told him not to join that stupid club,” Cobain’s mother, Wendy O’Connor, said Friday from her Aberdeen, Wash., home. She said she repeatedly made reference to “other rock singers who killed themselves” hoping to help her son cope with the fame and “tremendous pressures” he told her he was feeling.

Love was in L.A. rehearsing for a tour to support the major label debut of her band, Hole, when informed of her husband’s death. The album, perhaps prophetically titled “Live Through This,” is due out Tuesday.