[Podcast] Kurt Cobain’s Death: Was it Suicide or Murder?

On April 8, 1994, an electrician looking to install a security system at Kurt Cobain’s Seattle, WA residence saw what he thought was a mannequin through a greenhouse window. Upon further inspection, he came to regard the figure as a human being, and a few minutes later, unknowingly made one of the most profoundly disturbing discoveries in rock-n-roll history.

Kurt Cobain, the heralded lead singer and creative force behind Nirvana, was dead. He was found in his greenhouse with a shotgun and a stash of heroin nearby, so Cobain’s death was initially ruled a suicide.

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Immediately, the news of Kurt Cobain’s death set off shockwaves in the music world. He was very often considered a premiere voice in the Grunge movement, and Nirvana was one of the cornerstones of the Seattle sound (along with Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice-in-Chains). There were public outpourings of emotion in Seattle, and several copycat suicides occurred in the days following news of Cobain’s death.

In the midst of all this, Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love, had hired a PI named Tom Grant to track down her husband, who had fled from drug rehab in LA several days before. After news of Cobain’s death reached him, Grant gradually became convinced that Cobain had not, in fact, killed himself but had been murdered. He was concerned with several details that didn’t seem to add up, and so he began a decades-long push to get Kurt Cobain’s death to be re-investigated.

A few pieces of evidence are always cited when presenting Cobain’s death as a potential murder. First of all, there’s the fact that one of Kurt Cobain’s credit cards was used in the hours following his death, before his body was discovered. Then there’s the amount of heroin in his system. (He had nearly three times a normal fatal dose in his system.) There’s the lack of fingerprints on any item in the greenhouse. There’s the weird shenanigans involving Courtney, Dylan Carlson, and a guy named Cali in the days leading up to Cobain’s death.

Building a case from all of the disparate pieces of evidence, though, always struck me as bizarre. Nothing ever plays out like a TV show. Even in clear-cut suicide cases, some threads never quite get tied up, so how can you tie them all together, if you’re only doing so to prop up your already-reached conclusion.

This podcast episode explores the issue from the inside out. First, I start with the proposition that, Okay, Kurt Cobain was murdered. Why? Who benefits? For me, the issue becomes transparent when you take all of these issues at face value. Hope you enjoy, and I’ll be back with a new one soon.

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