April 5, 1994: Kurt Cobain's Death


Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist of the band Nirvana, was found dead in his Seattle home at the age of 27 of an apparent suicide. He was found on April 8, 1994, but had died 3 days earlier on April 5.

Although the incident report stated that he was found "with a shotgun across his body, had a visible head wound and there was a note discovered nearby", some believe that his death was not a suicide, but instead, that foul play was involved.


Due to an undiagnosed stomach condition, Cobain suffered from chronic pain and bronchitis for most of his life, but was able to maintain his work in one of the best selling bands of all time despite this. However, he was also prone to alcoholism and used drugs regularly. Cobain also struggled with depression, and his family had a history of suicide, mental illness and alcoholism.

On March 3, 1994, a bit over a month before his death, Cobain was hospitalized for an overdose on painkillers, but his management agency said that it was an accidental overdose, as he was suffering from the flu and fatigue. But on the contrast, his wife, Courtney Love, said that the overdose had been a suicide attempt. She claimed that he took 50 pills, which would not be accidental.

On March 31, he left the rehabilitation center that he had checked into just the day before. Close friends and family saw him in the next couple of days. But after sightings of him in Seattle on April 2, he was never seen alive again. He was reported missing by friends and family, and Love hired a private investigator to find Cobain after he had been seen in Seattle.

On April 8, 1994, part of the mystery was solved: Cobain was found. His body was in the greenhouse on Cobain's Seattle home, found by an electric employee who had arrived that morning to install security lighting. Initially, the electrician thought he was asleep, but then saw the blood coming out of his head. He found a suicide note with a pen stuck through it in a flower pot. A shotgun was placed across his chest.

The shotgun had been purchased legally, but not in Cobain's name, as police had taken guns away from him twice in the last 10 months for his own protection. The gun was not checked for fingerprints until nearly a month later. Fingerprints were lifted, but unusable. The police report stated that the shotgun was "inverted on Cobain's chest with his left hand wrapped around the barrel". It was also reported that he was high on heroin when he died, and that there were other drugs in his system.


Despite many believing that Cobain did not commit suicide, it remains his official cause of death to this day. Advocates who believe he did commit suicide cite his drug addiction, depression and suicide note as proof. His family had noticed he was becoming more depressed and unstable. On top of that, his stomach pains were so bad that he claimed that heroin was the only thing that helped, and the only thing that was stopping him from shooting himself. (1)

Cobain's friend and band member Krist Novoselic saw Cobain days before his intervention, and remembered that he was very quiet, not connecting with anyone. He had driven him to get heroin, remembering that he wanted to get "fucked up into oblivion... He wanted to die." (1)

But despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, other theories have existed since the day he was found. The first to object publicly was by Seattle public access host Richard Lee. A week after his death, he aired the first episode in his new series Kurt Cobain Was Murdered, citing discrepancies in police reports and images from the crime scene that didn't make sense. (1)

Also on the pro-murder side of the argument was private investigator Tom Grant, who Love had hired when her husband disappeared. There are several elements to his theory of why he believes he was murdered, the suicide staged. (1)

First off, he argues that, had he been on such a high dose of different drugs, he would not have been able to pull the trigger. Grant believes that heroin was used to incapacitate Cobain, and then the killer pulled the trigger. (1)

He also feels that the suicide note was not actually a suicide note, but a letter of intent to leave Love, Seattle and the music business as a whole. He claims that the only part of the note that mentions anything about suicide was at the very bottom of the note, and those may not have been written by Cobain. (1)

Grant also claims that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence from the police report. He claims that the lack of fingerprint evidence is questionable, especially on the gun itself, but also on the note and pen itself... But Cobain was not found with gloves on. While he admits none of this directly points to murder, it supports that perhaps something beyond a cut and dry suicide took place. (1)

The previous overdose was also cited as support that Cobain wanted to take his own life, but Dr. Osvaldo Galletta, who treated Cobain after the incident, said that it didn't seem like a suicide attempt. Love's claim that he had taken 50 pills was denied, the physician saying he did not have that much in his system. (1)

Grant also believed that his wife, Love, may have mixed the pills into his drink to kill him, but because she was the one to call the police when she found him on the floor, it didn't make sense. Why would she call the police instead of leave him to die? (My own commentary here, not supported by anything: Perhaps she wanted to make it look like a suicide attempt instead of a murder, so when she actually murdered him later, it would look like he was depressed and wanting to die...) (1)

Grant believes that no one considered it a suicide attempt until after Cobain's death. While some believe that the claim that he had accidentally overdosed because he was sick at the time was a cover-up to mask what was really happening behind the scenes, others believe that if he had really attempted suicide, his friends and family would have been told so they could care for him. (1)

The last element to Grant's theory is his conversation with Cobain's attorney, Rosemary Carroll. She had asked him to investigate Cobain's death, as he was not suicidal. She also said that he had asked her to write up a will that excluded Love, because he was planning to file for divorce. She also provided Grant with a note with Love's handwriting that he felt was similar to the last 4 lines of Cobain's suicide note. (1)

Another anti-suicide theorist is filmmaker Nick Broomfield, who decided to investigate the theories for himself. He and a film crew went to talk to a number of people associated with the couple, including Love's estranged father, Cobain's aunt, and a former nanny of the couple. (1)

He spoke with a member of The Mentors' band, who claimed Love had offered him $50,000 to kill Cobain. He said he didn't, but knew who killed him, but wouldn't give a name. He mentioned someone by the name of Allen, but then said he was "his friend", trying not to use the killer's name. Though fellow band members said he had given the interview to sell supermarket tabloids, he did days later when he was struck by a train in the middle of the night, which is just a touch sketchy. (1)

After all of his research and the release of his documentary, he said he did not feel he uncovered enough to support a conspiracy. He said he thinks Cobain did kill himself, and Courtney just didn't care, having moved on and thinking Cobain was "expendable". (1)

As with many mysteries, I like to turn to Reddit to see what the Internet Detectives think, and one of the more popular theories is that Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain. Much of the explanation aligns to the discrepancies above. He did not have a history of being suicidal, a man said he was offered $50,000 to kill Cobain and then mysteriously died days later, Love claimed his overdose was a suicide attempt when the doctors said it likely was not. (2)

Also alleged is that Love only hired Grant to look for Cobain when he went missing only because she was concerned with his credit cards that she felt she had the right to. Apparently, the house was searched before his body was found, even though one of the searchers, Cobain's friend Dylan, knew about the greenhouse and they didn't search it. According to the other searcher and friend, Tom, Dylan and Courtney talked privately a lot during that time. (2)

The Reddit poster also claims that the heroin in his bloodstream was three times the fatal dose, rendering him completely unable to shoot himself, and that the angle of the gunshot made no sense, and the lack of fingerprints on the gun was suspicious. (2)

Commenters agreed, especially because Love got to break out of just being "Kurt's wife" after his death and make a successful career for herself, something many think was only possible because of his suicide. (I want to reiterate that all of this is just random people posting on Reddit, but interesting to see what the general public thinks.) (2)


Though many were surprised to find out that Cobain committed suicide, those close to him did not take that to mean he hadn't done it... Just that they didn't know the amount of pain he was in. (1)

His close friend, Mark Lanegan, said he didn't know he was suicidal, he just thought he was going through a rough patch. Other friends expressed frustration that they weren't told that his overdose may have been a suicide attempt, as they could have kept a closer eye on their friend. (1)

Lead singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers Anthony Kiedis said that his death was a great loss, and that he was so lovable, and even people who didn't know him felt close to him. His musical hero, Greg Sage, said Cobain had told him that he wasn't happy about his success, and felt there was nowhere to go but down. (1)

But other friends aren't so sure Cobain took his own life, including Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, who said she believed someone had killed him. Gordon's then-husband said his method of suicide didn't make sense. He had died so aggressively, and he was not an aggressive guy. He said about his suicide by gunshot, "It doesn't really lie with what we know." (1)

Additionally, Cobain's grandfather publicly said that he believed Cobain was murdered. (1)

Despite the controversy surrounding his death, one thing is for certain: Kurt Cobain was missed. He has been remembered as one of the "most iconic rock musicians in the history of alternative music". His public vigil drew over 7,000 mourners. A memorial park was created for him. The entrance to Aberdeen, Washington says "Come As You Are" as a tribute to Cobain. The area where his ashes were scattered is frequented by fans, especially on the anniversary of his death. "Nirvana Day" was designated as an annual holiday in Hoquiam, where Cobain once lived, and "Kurt Cobain Day" was celebrated on his birthday in Aberdeen. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, and his award was accepted by bandmates Grohl and Novoselic, and Love. (3)

Regardless of what happened in his last days, Kurt Cobain was a music icon who was, and still is, remembered for his contributions to music and the lasting impact he had on those who knew and loved him.


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Kurt_Cobain


3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Cobain#Legacy_and_influence

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