Following up on a weird conspiracy theory: Is Rivers Cuomo really Kurt Cobain?

Late in 2020, I did an Ongoing History of New Music program on great musical conspiracies. One of them involved a theory that Kurt Cobain and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo are actually the same person. Kurt faked his death and assumed his alternate identity as Rivers Cuomo full time. The idea first took root on Reddit and quickly metastasized into something pretty loopy.

Item 1: Theorist point to Weezer gigs when they played nothing but obscure Nirvana covers. That’s true–well, at least for one gig. In November 1998, Weezer played a secret show in Hollywood under the name Goat Punishment during which they played six Nirvana songs including “Swap Meet” (a deep track from Bleach) and Aneurysm (the B-side of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Inconveniently for the Kurt-is-River people, there was a second Goat Punishment show a few days later when they played nothing but Oasis covers. There were several other Goat Punishment gits, but I’ve never been able to find any evidence that there were any others featuring nothing but Nirvana songs.

Item 2: Rumours that Rivers was in rehearsal with Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic for a Coachella gig sometime around 2000. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

Item 3: Rivers and Kurt share a biographer. True, but John D. Luersson has also written books about The Smiths, Bruce Springsteen, and U2.

Item 4: Both Weezer and Nirvana were signed to the same label. True. So?

Item 5: Weezer once toured with the Foo Fighters. Yeah, and?

Item 6: When Nirvana was still around, there were never any recording studios or tour dates that conflicted with either band. Which proves what, exactly?

Here’s a report on the whole thing.

Why don’t we ask Rivers what he thinks? Here he is speaking with producer Rick Rubin on his Broken Record podcast.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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