Happy Birthday Kurt Cobain

Today is the 47th birthday of Kurt Cobain.  I drive by his old house on my way home and even 20 years after his death, there are still people lighting candles and leaving flowers on the bench in the park  it is next to.  He was the reluctant crown-prince of my generation.  Had he lived, he would  an Indie Rock God Legend or a bloated cliche or a recluse.  There is no way to predict something that will never be.  We will always remember him as beautiful, and sad.  My family settled in  Aberdeen when they came to The United States.  The rain was heavy and constant.  There is a beautiful old mausoleum in the cemetery where my great-grandparents  are buried and when I am there, I wonder if Kurt liked it there.  If I were a kid growing up in Aberdeen, I would have made it one of my haunts, it is very quiet and empty and full of the forgotten founders of a town whose prime has passed.

Kurt Cobain

NAME: Kurt Cobain
OCCUPATION: Singer
BIRTH DATE: February 20, 1967
DEATH DATE: April 05, 1994
PLACE OF BIRTH: Aberdeen, Washington
PLACE OF DEATH: Seattle, Washington
FULL NAME: Kurt Donald Cobain

BEST KNOWN FOR:  A talented yet troubled grunge performer, Kurt Cobain became a rock legend in the 1990s with his band, Nirvana. He committed suicide at his Seattle home in 1994.

Singer, songwriter. Born Kurt Donald Cobain on February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. A talented, troubled performer, Kurt Cobain became a rock legend with his band Nirvana in the 1990s. Growing up in a small logging town, Cobain showed an interest in art and music. He excelled at drawing, so much so that his talents were even apparent in kindergarten. He also learned to play piano by ear and enjoyed a kiddie drum kit his parents had given him. At his father’s urging, Cobain also played little league baseball. He sometimes spent time with his little sister Kim who was born in 1971, but both Cobain children had to deal with their parents yelling and fighting as their marriage became increasingly stormy.

After his parents divorced when he was nine, Cobain became withdrawn. He went to live with his father after the divorce. On the weekends, he would visit his mother and his sister. When his father remarried, Cobain resented his stepmother Jenny and her two children. One of the bright spots of this difficult time was a present he received from his uncle Chuck—a guitar. Although the instrument was fairly beat up, it inspired Cobain to learn to play and it offered him a respite from his unhappiness at home. Alienated and angry, he believed that his father always took his stepmother’s side and favored her children and his half-brother Chad who had been born in 1979. Cobain began experimenting with drugs in his mid-teens, and he pushed himself farther away from his father.

In 1982, Cobain left his father’s place and bounced around from relative to relative for several months. He then went to live with his mother who was with her boyfriend Pat O’Connor at the time. (They later married.) Attending high school in Aberdeen, he impressed teachers and students with his artistic talents. Cobain seemed to have odd tastes in subject matter, drawing a sperm transforming into an embryo for one project, according to Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross.

Cobain’s life changed when he started listening punk rock. Discovering a local punk band, the Melvins, he befriended Buzz Osbourne, a member of the group. Osbourne introduced him to some other punk bands, such as the Sex Pistols. The Melvins often practiced in a space near drummer Dale Crover‘s house and a lot of fans, including Cobain, came to these sessions and hung out. As high school progressed, he was doing more drinking and drugging. Cobain also got into fights with his mother who was also drinking a lot, and he could not stand his stepfather.

Cobain spent much of 1984 and 1985 living in various places. He spent time living with friends when he could and sleeping in apartment building hallways and a hospital waiting room when he did not have any other place to crash. In July 1985, Cobain was arrested for spray painting buildings in town with some of his friends. His friends got away, but Cobain was caught and taken to the police station. He later received a fine and a suspended sentence for his actions. Several months later, Cobain started his first band, Fecal Matter. They recorded a few songs together at his aunt Mari’s house, but they never played any gigs.

The next year Cobain was in trouble with the law again after being found wandering around an abandoned building drunk at night. As a result, he ended up spending several days in jail. Cobain started playing music with bassist Krist Novoselic who was two years older than him. They knew each other from Novoselic’s younger brother Robert and from hanging around The Melvins. A local drummer named Aaron Burckhard soon joined in. Their first gig was a house party in 1987. This same year, Cobain started going out with Tracy Marander, his first serious girlfriend. The two eventually were living together in Olympia. Although they struggled financially, the couple seemed to enjoy the rock and roll lifestyle. Cobain spent a lot of his time exploring different creative outlets—writing, painting, drawing, and making collages.

In 1988, Cobain was able to make some of his rock ambitions come true. He finally settled on the name Nirvana for the group. They made their first single, “Love Buzz,” which was released by the small independent label Sub Pop Records. By this time, Burckhard was out and Chad Channing had taken over drumming duties. Nirvana’s popularity in the Seattle music scene was growing, and they released their debut album, Bleach, in 1989. While it failed to make much of a splash, the recording showed signs of Cobain’s emerging talent as a songwriter, especially the ballad “About a Girl.” Their signature sound, which included elements of punk and heavy metal, was also apparent on the album. Cobain felt mistreated by Sub Pop, believing that the company devoted more resources toward promoting other acts such as Soundgarden and Mudhoney.

While his band was struggling to make it, Cobain made a fateful connection in his personal life. In 1990, Cobain met his match in an edgy rocker named Courtney Love. The two met at a show at the Portland, Oregon nightclub Satyricon. While they were interested in each other, their relationship did not get off the ground until much later.

That same year, he got a chance to know some of his rock and roll heroes when the band toured with Sonic Youth. Nirvana was going through some internal changes at the time. Their friend Dale Crover filled in on drums as Cobain and Novoselic had kicked out Channing. After the tour, they finally found a replacement in Dave Grohl who had played with Washington, D.C., hardcore band Scream.

Despite their antiestablishment and punk tendencies, Nirvana made the leap to a major label in 1991 when they signed with Geffen Records. That same year, they released Nevermind, which spearheaded a music revolution. With the raw edges of punk and the blistering guitars of metal, their sound was labeled “grunge” for its murky and rough qualities.

The single “Smells Like Teen Spirit”—like many Nirvana tracks—modulated between the soft and the thrashing. And Cobain was equally convincing as he sang the song’s mellow chorus and as he screamed its final lines. It proved to be the group’s biggest single and helped take the entire album to the top of the charts.
Soon, Cobain was being called one of the best songwriters of his generation. This along with the rapid rise of the group put pressure on the talented and sensitive 24-year-old. Cobain began to worry about how his music was being received and how to regain control of a seemingly uncontrollable future. He had started using heroin in the early 1990s. The drug provided an escape as well as some relief for his chronic stomach problems.

Before Nevermind’s release, Cobain met up again with Courtney Love, now the lead singer and guitarist with Hole, at an L7 concert in Los Angeles. She was friends with Jennifer Finch, a member of the band who was also dating Dave Grohl at the time. Later that year, Cobain and Love started a whirlwind relationship that included letters, faxes, and numerous phone calls as the two were traveling with their respective bands. In February 1992, they got married and welcomed their daughter Frances Bean Cobain in August of that year. Both Cobain and Love were into drugs and often used together. They found themselves being investigated by social services after Love told Vanity Fair that she had taken heroin while pregnant. After a costly legal battle, Cobain and Love were able keep custody of their daughter.

Always volatile, Cobain’s relationship with Love was becoming more strained. The Seattle police came to their house after the two had been in a physical altercation over Cobain having guns in the house in 1993. As a result, he was arrested for assault. The police also took the guns from the home.

While his personal life was in turmoil, Cobain had continued success professionally. Nirvana’s highly acclaimed album In Utero was released in September 1993 and went to the top of the album charts. Full of highly personal lyrics by Cobain about his many life struggles, the recording featured a fair amount of hostility toward people and situations that Cobain reviled. He took on the recording industry with “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter.” It also had some more tender moments with “Heart-Shaped Box,” which is supposed to be about his marriage to Love. Guitar Player magazine described the album as having “a startling level of anger, energy, and jaded intelligence.”

While the band earned raves for the new album, Cobain had become more distant from the other members.

But he continued to press on, playing a gig with Nirvana in New York City in November 1993 for MTV’s Unplugged series and touring Europe that winter. Cobain and Love often fought about his drug use.

On a break during the tour, Cobain spent some time in Europe with his family. On March 4, 1994, while in his hotel room in Rome, Italy, he attempted suicide by taking an overdose of drugs. Love woke up and discovered that Cobain was in trouble. He was rushed to the hospital in a coma. While official reports said that it was accidentally overdose, Cobain had clearly meant to kill himself, having left a suicide note.

Returning to the United States, Cobain became a hermit, spending much of his time alone and high. Love called the police on March 18 to report that Cobain was suicidal. He had locked himself inside a closet with some guns and some medication, according to the police report. After interviewing Love and Cobain, it was determined that he had not threatened to kill himself, but Love called the authorities because he had locked himself in and would not open the door. She knew that he had access to guns. For their safety, the police took the guns and the medications.

A few days later, Love had an intervention for Cobain, trying to convince him to get off drugs. She herself traveled to Los Angeles after the event to try to get clean. Cobain eventually checked into a chemical dependency clinic in Los Angeles, but left after only a few days.

On April 5, 1994, in the guest house behind his Seattle home, a 27-year-old Cobain committed suicide. He placed a shotgun into his mouth and fired, killing himself instantly. He left a lengthy suicide note in which he addressed his many fans as well as his wife and young daughter. Despite the official ruling of his death as a suicide, some have wondered whether it was murder and whether Love had been involved in his death.

Even after death, Cobain continued to intrigue and inspire fans. The group released Unplugged in New York shortly after Cobain’s death and it went to the top of the charts. Two years later, a collection of their songs entitled From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah was released, and again the group scored a huge hit, reaching the number three spot on the album charts.

With Cobain gone, there has been a struggle about what to do with what he left behind. Grohl and Novoselic fought with Love for years over Nirvana’s music. In September 2002, Love announced that they had finally resolved their long legal battle over unreleased material. An anthology of their songs, Nirvana, was released that year, including the previously unreleased track “You Know You’re Right.” Two collections that included other previously unreleased material followed with 2004′s With the Lights Out and 2005′s Sliver: The Best of the Box.

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Happy Birthday Frances Farmer – Style Icon

There is something about her, the biopic with Jessica Lange helped push her into cult icon status for a lot of people, including me..  Seattle girl, free thinker, rule breaker and getting a raw deal from Hollywood all inspire other artists.  They understand the misunderstood.  She is the glamorous Hollywood misfit queen of all misfits.  I think of her several times a week when I walk by the employee side entrance to to the Olympic Hotel in Seattle, a door I know that she went through hundreds of times in the early 1950′s when she took a job sorting laundry after her release from a mental hospital.  How she must have felt going in that side door when only 14 years earlier, that very same hotel had held the world premier of her film “Come and Get It.”  I think of that aching feeling of betrayal and abandonment and the complexities of mental instability, it must have been crippling.  (It is a similar feeling that I have when I am driving home and pass Kurt Cobain’s house and see the bench in “Kurt’s Park” covered with flowers and burning candles, even as recent as yesterday.)  Ladies and gentlemen, Frances Farmer.  Style Icon.

Frances_Farmer_UndatedNAME: Frances Farmer
OCCUPATION: Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: September 19, 1913
DEATH DATE: August 01, 1970
EDUCATION: University of Washington
PLACE OF BIRTH: Seattle, Washington
PLACE OF DEATH: Indianapolis, Indiana

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Frances Farmer starred in films in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, but was best known for her rebellious reputation and the time she spent in a mental institution.

Born September 19, 1913, in Seattle, Washington. The daughter of a lawyer, Farmer enjoyed a comfortable childhood, during which she developed a penchant for stage acting. In 1931, she enrolled at the University of Washington, where she majored in journalism and drama. After a failed attempt to join the Group Theatre in New York, Farmer concentrated on a film career, signing with Paramount Studios in 1936. Later that year, she was cast in a bit part in the drama Too Many Parents, followed by Border Flight and the musical Rhythm on the Range, starring Bing Crosby. Playing the dual role of a saloon singer and her daughter, Farmer’s work in the 1936 film Come and Get It, was heralded as the best screen performance of her career.

Despite Farmer’s initial success, she quickly earned a reputation as a demanding and rebellious actress on the set. Displeased with her attitude, Paramount cast her in bland parts in a handful of films, including Exclusive and Ebb Tide (both 1937). By the early 1940s, Farmer was forced to appear in a succession of inferior productions, including South of Pago Pago (1940), World Premiere, and Among the Living (both 1941).

In 1942, Farmer’s career enjoyed a brief resurgence when she was cast opposite Tyrone Power and Roddy McDowall in the swashbuckler Son of Fury. However, Farmer’s efforts to improve her image backfired when she was arrested and convicted of drunk driving at the time of the film’s release. Inundated with negative publicity, Farmer traveled to Mexico. However, by leaving the United States, she was found in violation of her probation. She was put on trial and deemed mentally ill. Farmer was committed to a mental institution where she underwent shock treatments, hydrotherapy baths, and reportedly received a trans-orbital lobotomy. Over the next few years, her physical and mental health deteriorated; she developed a debilitating dependency on alcohol and suffered from a series of nervous breakdowns.

Upon her release from the institution, in 1949, Farmer worked as a hotel receptionist before making a comeback appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1957. The following year, she starred in her last feature film, The Party Crashers, and began a six-year run on the Indianapolis-based TV show Frances Farmer Presents.

On August 1, 1970, Farmer died after a long battle with cancer; she was 56 years old. Her intimate autobiography, Will There Really Be a Morning?, was published posthumously in 1972. In the early 1980s, her story was captured on film in the biopic Frances (1982), starring Jessica Lange, and in the black and white documentary Committed (1983).

More than two decades after Farmer’s death, the alternative rock group Nirvana recorded the single “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle.” Written by lead singer Kurt Cobain, the tribute appeared on the band’s In Utero (1993) album. Cobain also named his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, after Farmer.

Farmer was married three times: to actor Leif Erickson (from 1936-42); to Alfred Lobley (from 1953-58); and to Leland Mikesell (from 1958 until her death).

In Popular Culture:

  • Jessica Lange played Farmer in the 1982 film Frances, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Kim Stanley was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Farmer’s mother. The film contained a fictional scene which depicted Farmer undergoing a transorbital lobotomy. In Hollywood style, the film also omitted numerous facts and added a fictional life-long, love-interest character named “Harry”.
  • Susan Blakely portrayed Farmer in a 1983 television production Will There Really Be a Morning?, which was named after Farmer’s autobiography. Academy Award winner Lee Grant portrayed her mother in the same production.
  • In 1984, Culture Club had a #32 hit in the UK Single Charts “The Medal Song”, which was about the actress.
  • Tracey Thorn’s song “Ugly Little Dreams” on Everything But The Girl’s 1985 LP “Love Not Money” was also inspired by Frances Farmer.
  • The Nirvana song “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”, which was written by fellow Washington native Kurt Cobain, was named after Farmer. It appears on their 1993 “In Utero” LP.
  • Patterson Hood, singer, guitarist and songwriter with the rock band Drive-By Truckers, included a song about Farmer (titled “Frances Farmer”) on his 2004 solo album, Killers and Stars. The album’s cover features a drawing of Farmer by Toby Cole.
  • Carol Decker of the band T’Pau wrote a song “Monkey House” about Frances Farmer’s mental illness which was featured on the 1987 album “Bridge Of Spies”.
  • French singer Mylène Jeanne Gautier, changed her name into Mylène Farmer as a tribute to Frances.

farmer

Smells Like Teen Spirit

We drive by Kurt and Courtney‘s old house a lot on our way home, we drive by the park where there are always people taking pictures of the bench and leaving flowers and candles.  For some reason, I like the idea that people are still drawn to his tiny little park.  His enormous hedge of rhododendrons is threatening to bloom and will do just that any day, I will share a photo when it does.Kurt Cobain hand-wrote the following to-do list mid-1991, as Nirvana prepared to film the now-iconic music video for Smells Like Teen Spirit. It was eventually filmed on a sound stage and directed by Samuel Bayer.

Transcript follows. Image from the book, Kurt Cobain: Journals.

Transcript

Smells Like Teen Spirt

needed

1. Mercedes benz and a few old cars

2. Access to a abandoned mall, main floor and one Jewelry shop.

3. lots of fake Jewelry

4. School Auditorium (Gym)

5. A cast of hundreds. 1 custodian, students.

6. 6 black Cheerleader outfits with Anarchy A’s Ⓐ on chest

Frances Farmer – Style Icon

NAME: Frances Farmer
OCCUPATION: Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: September 19, 1913
DEATH DATE: August 01, 1970
EDUCATION: University of Washington
PLACE OF BIRTH: Seattle, Washington
PLACE OF DEATH: Indianapolis, Indiana

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Frances Farmer starred in films in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, but was best known for her rebellious reputation and the time she spent in a mental institution.

Born September 19, 1913, in Seattle, Washington. The daughter of a lawyer, Farmer enjoyed a comfortable childhood, during which she developed a penchant for stage acting. In 1931, she enrolled at the University of Washington, where she majored in journalism and drama. After a failed attempt to join the Group Theatre in New York, Farmer concentrated on a film career, signing with Paramount Studios in 1936. Later that year, she was cast in a bit part in the drama Too Many Parents, followed by Border Flight and the musical Rhythm on the Range, starring Bing Crosby. Playing the dual role of a saloon singer and her daughter, Farmer’s work in the 1936 film Come and Get It, was heralded as the best screen performance of her career.

Despite Farmer’s initial success, she quickly earned a reputation as a demanding and rebellious actress on the set. Displeased with her attitude, Paramount cast her in bland parts in a handful of films, including Exclusive and Ebb Tide (both 1937). By the early 1940s, Farmer was forced to appear in a succession of inferior productions, including South of Pago Pago (1940), World Premiere, and Among the Living (both 1941).

In 1942, Farmer’s career enjoyed a brief resurgence when she was cast opposite Tyrone Power and Roddy McDowall in the swashbuckler Son of Fury. However, Farmer’s efforts to improve her image backfired when she was arrested and convicted of drunk driving at the time of the film’s release. Inundated with negative publicity, Farmer traveled to Mexico. However, by leaving the United States, she was found in violation of her probation. She was put on trial and deemed mentally ill. Farmer was committed to a mental institution where she underwent shock treatments, hydrotherapy baths, and reportedly received a trans-orbital lobotomy. Over the next few years, her physical and mental health deteriorated; she developed a debilitating dependency on alcohol and suffered from a series of nervous breakdowns.

Upon her release from the institution, in 1949, Farmer worked as a hotel receptionist before making a comeback appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1957. The following year, she starred in her last feature film, The Party Crashers, and began a six-year run on the Indianapolis-based TV show Frances Farmer Presents.

On August 1, 1970, Farmer died after a long battle with cancer; she was 56 years old. Her intimate autobiography, Will There Really Be a Morning?, was published posthumously in 1972. In the early 1980s, her story was captured on film in the biopic Frances (1982), starring Jessica Lange, and in the black and white documentary Committed (1983).

More than two decades after Farmer’s death, the alternative rock group Nirvana recorded the single “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle.” Written by lead singer Kurt Cobain, the tribute appeared on the band’s In Utero (1993) album. Cobain also named his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, after Farmer.

Farmer was married three times: to actor Leif Erickson (from 1936-42); to Alfred Lobley (from 1953-58); and to Leland Mikesell (from 1958 until her death).

Jessica Lange played Farmer in the 1982 film Frances, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Kim Stanley was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Farmer’s mother. The film contained a fictional scene which depicted Farmer undergoing a transorbital lobotomy. In Hollywood style, the film also omitted numerous facts and added a fictional life-long, love-interest character named “Harry”.

Susan Blakely portrayed Farmer in a 1983 television production Will There Really Be a Morning?, which was named after Farmer’s autobiography. Academy Award winner Lee Grant portrayed her mother in the same production.

In 1984, Culture Club had a #32 hit in the UK Single Charts “The Medal Song”, which was about the actress.

Tracey Thorn’s song “Ugly Little Dreams” on Everything But The Girl’s 1985 LP “Love Not Money” was also inspired by Frances Farmer.

The Nirvana song “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”, which was written by fellow Washington native Kurt Cobain, was named after Farmer. It appears on their 1993 “In Utero” LP.

Patterson Hood, singer, guitarist and songwriter with the rock band Drive-By Truckers, included a song about Farmer (titled “Frances Farmer”) on his 2004 solo album, Killers and Stars. The album’s cover features a drawing of Farmer by Toby Cole.

Carol Decker of the band T’Pau wrote a song “Monkey House” about Frances Farmer’s mental illness which was featured on the 1987 album “Bridge Of Spies”.

French singer Mylène Jeanne Gautier, changed her name into Mylène Farmer as a tribute to Frances.

Kurt Cobain – Style Icon

He was the reluctant crown-prince of my generation.  Had he lived, he would be 45 today and an Indie Rock God Legend or a bloated cliche or a recluse.  There is no way to predict something that will never be.  We will always remember him as beautiful, and sad.  My family and I were in Aberdeen over the weekend and probably went over the Wishkah a half dozen times.  The rain was heavy and constant, like it always is this time of year, and we hid out in an old mausoleum in the cemetery where my great-grandparents  are buried.  If I were a kid growing up in Aberdeen, I would have made it one of my haunts, it is very quiet and empty and full of the forgotten founders of a town whose prime has passed.  Ladies and gentlemen, Kurt Cobain.  Style Icon.

Kurt Cobain, born in Aberdeen, Washington (1967). He was the son of an auto mechanic and a cocktail waitress. His parents divorced when he was seven, and the split was traumatic, which influenced a lot of the pain in his lyrics. “I remember feeling ashamed, for some reason,” he told an interviewer in 1993. “I was ashamed of my parents. I couldn’t face some of my friends at school anymore, because I desperately wanted to have the classic, you know, typical family. Mother, father. I wanted that security, so I resented my parents for quite a few years because of that.”

He dropped out of high school three weeks before graduation, took a job as a janitor, and started playing in a band. They called themselves Nirvana, pooled their money — $606 — and recorded their first album, Bleach, in 1989. Bleach did well enough to get them a contract with a major label. In 1991, the group came out with its second album, Nevermind, which received rave reviews and propelled the band to stardom. The album featured the singles “Come as You Are” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Nevermind sold more than 24 million copies and Cobain became the reluctant poster child of Generation X.

In 2005, a sign was put up in Aberdeen, Washington, that read “Welcome to Aberdeen – Come As You Are” as a tribute to Cobain. The sign was paid for and created by the Kurt Cobain Memorial Committee, a non-profit organization created in May 2004 to honour Cobain. The Committee planned to create a Kurt Cobain Memorial Park and a youth center in Aberdeen. Because Cobain was cremated and his remains scattered into the Wishkah River in Washington, many Nirvana fans visit Viretta Park, near Cobain’s former Lake Washington home, to pay tribute. On the anniversary of his death, fans gather in the park to celebrate his life and memory.

Girl With The Most Cake

Anyone who lived in Seattle in the early 90′s has various Grunge Celebrity stories.  We all have stories of house parties where this or that band performed or running into someone at the grocery store.  I used to take a yoga class with several grunge starter-wives and later, with one-third of Nirvana.  They were our neighbors, friends and coworkers.

The only story that I ever think about every once in a while is seeing Frances Bean Cobain at the playground at Volunteer Park with her nannies.  She must have been two or three, running, jumping, swinging, and laughing.  Her mother was there and probably should have grabbed more of my focus, but it was the little girl with the crystal blue eyes, Kurt’s eyes, that fascinated me.

That little girl is now the amazingly beautiful young woman in the photograph above.  More photos are found here by photographer Hedi Silmane.