The Last Days of Nirvana: An Oral History

Nick Soulsby - I Found My Friends

The end of Nirvana has been told many times, but almost always in a truncated form. The story usual begins with Kurt’s overdose in Rome and then ends with his death a month later. But all those accounts come in as pretty standard narratives. Surely there must be an oral history that can be written, featuring the remembrances and opinions of people who were actually there.

Well, someone has. From Esquire:

Nick Soulsby’s new book, I Found My Friends: The Oral History of Nirvana, out March 31, tracks the history of the band through the words of friends and fellow musicians in the Washington state grunge scene of the 1990s. Illuminating and painful, this last chapter, exclusively appearing on Esquire.com, focuses on the torment and confusion surrounding what would turn out to be the tragic end of Kurt Cobain’s short life and the band he left behind.—The Editors

One More Solo? The Curtain Falls

February to April 1994

The January session was to be the last time Nirvana worked together in studio. While there was only the scantest evidence of artistic activity from Cobain—he was too busy switching homes again—Grohl and Novoselic still presented compositions for Cobain’s perusal as potential material for Nirvana. Even now—as late as January 30, 1994—no one could see that the end to Nirvana was within touching distance. The future was vague, but not preordained. There was no forewarning of the spiraling events that led to Cobain’s death.

ADAM KASPER [producer, engineer]: I was struck by Grohl’s songs and the demos we made that week. At the time I offhandedly made the remark that he should do a solo album someday . . . There was talk of the guys wanting a chance to include some of their songs on the new album work. Cobain listened to a few tracks and it seemed he was open to considering other material, but not much time or energy was spent on this.

STEVE DIGGLE [Buzzcocks guitarist]: I sat with Dave at the end of the tour and said, “We’re gonna miss you guys, y’know?” because we got on really well on the road—all in [it] together. We were sat at the table and he said he had some songs he wanted to do when he got back. I have to be honest, I thought, I bet they’re pretty good but . . . the drummer? You’re not sure what he’s got but…

Having spent part of 1993 on a reunion tour with Scream, Grohl joined other musicians in early 1994 for the soundtrack to the film Backbeat.

DON FLEMING [Velvet Monkeys frontman]: Thurston [Moore] put the lineup together and told Don Was we would do it but only if we could do it without any rehearsal and if we could do it in two days. That helped everyone with their busy schedules; we literally flew out there, learned the songs on the spot one-by-one . . . There are certain drummers, especially from producing, I’ve worked out are such a key element of the band. They can take a band that are great and make them a step above—that’s what [Dave] did with Nirvana. There were great songs, great front man; the drums took it a step up, and that’s why they were so successful . . . He brought so much energy to the songs and never fucked up. I don’t remember about where they were at as the band at that point. They’d become very popular but I don’t remember him talking about it at all. I think he was just there to have a good time.

Continue reading.

 

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.

5 thoughts on “The Last Days of Nirvana: An Oral History

  • March 9, 2015 at 10:21 am
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    This article has wrong facts, like, Daniel Johnston was not the founder of K records, Calvin Johnston is. Seems like if they can’t get little things like that right, why should I believe that they did ANY research at all? Haven’t enough people made enough money off Kurt’s death? Do your effing homework!!!!

    Reply
    • March 9, 2015 at 5:46 pm
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      S’ok if I just say “mea culpa, I brushed past an error during the editing stage at one point last year?” Definitely blushing on it. As for research… Well…I’d hope tracking down 210 musicians from 170 of the bands Nirvana played with across their career would count. But for sure, still stunned at myself! Must have been late night but I’d hope you’ll forgive me for one edit in 100,000 words of people’s memories?

      Reply
      • March 9, 2015 at 11:08 pm
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        I know the feeling. I’ve written four books and I’ve wanted something back from every one of them.

        Reply
  • March 9, 2015 at 5:48 pm
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    And Mr Cross? A sincere thank you for being willing to give my work a little time. Appreciated.

    Reply
    • March 9, 2015 at 11:08 pm
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      You’re most welcome! I’m looking forward to reading the book!

      Reply

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