Music History

Published on April 8th, 2019 | by Alan Cross

6

Twenty-five years ago today, we heard that Kurt Cobain died. Here’s how it sounded on the radio that afternoon.

Sometime on April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain, who had walked away from a rehab facility in LA four days earlier, went to the greenhouse room above the shed in the backyard of his house at 171 Lake Washington Boulevard East in Seattle. He was wearing jeans, purple Converse sneakers, and a Half Japanese t-shirt under a button-down shirt.

Via Seattle Police Department

Once inside, he barricaded the French doors at the east side of the room with a stool, weighing it down with some heavy books on gardening. Doors on the west side remained locked.

He had several things with him. A Remington Model 11 shotgun bought at Stan Baker Sports in Seattle. A bag containing some 20-gauge shotgun shells. A pack of Camel Lights cigarettes. A can of Barq’s root beer. His Tom Moore cigar box full of drug-taking hardware.

He turned on the TV but with the sound down so he could listen to REM’s Automatic for the People. He smoked five cigarettes and wrote a one-page suicide note in red ink address to Boddah, his imaginary childhood friend. Once he finished, he stabbed the note with the pen and left it in the long dirt planter that extended along the north side of the room.

On the floor was a pile of possessions: his wallet containing $120 in cash, sunglasses, his cigarettes, a lighter, two towels, and a winter hat with ear flaps.

After cooking things in the nearby sink, he injected 1.52 mg of heroin, which is a lot. But because of his long-standing smack use, he was able to remain conscious long enough to pack away his syringe in the cigar box. Standing up, he aimed the shotgun at his head and pulled the trigger. He was found like this.

Again, the best anyone can determine is that this happened on Tuesday, April 5, 1994. Despite several people searching for Kurt, his body wasn’t found until just before 9 am PDT on Friday, April 8.

I was on the air that afternoon. Because we were still in a pre-Internet, pre-social media, pre-email era, the radio was the main source of information on what was a very fast-developing story. This is what it sounded like that afternoon.




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About the Author

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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6 Responses to Twenty-five years ago today, we heard that Kurt Cobain died. Here’s how it sounded on the radio that afternoon.

  1. I was driving home from York U that day and still clearly remember your words “I really don’t want to do this….”. For me, it’s one of the few events that I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news, and your words.

  2. Brian Clarke says:

    Me too… I was driving down the 404 just north of Toronto…

  3. doug says:

    Curious where the “Remington .303 shotgun” info came from. A .303 is a rifle (that’s the bullet caliber), shotguns are in gauges (like the 20-gauge shells).

  4. Susanne says:

    Just list fishymcdonk says, I too still clearly remember your words, “I really don’t want to do this…” It was a sad day indeed.

  5. I remember this… was driving westbound on the Queensway turning left on to Hurontario south when Alan broke the news on CFNY/EDGE102…. was there a clip just before this where you (Alan) said something to the effect of “If you’re a major music fan, you’re going to want to sit down/pull over if you’re driving”? I know it was 25 years ago but I would have sworn there was a warning before this.

  6. Tim Flynn says:

    As weird as it is to express thanks for posting this, I too found out about this horrible news, via yourself. CFNY was a beacon to this (then) 18-yr old. And from the moment I began hearing about this ‘burgeoning musical scene’, I became firmly entrenched with Team Nirvana.

    Still am.

    I had just got home from school, and my dad let me take the car out. I was on my way to meet up with fellow friends, to go jam at someone’s house. That jam-band, and the reason I even had a guitar, was entirely because of Nirvana.

    I had not heard the initial reports, earlier in the afternoon. I remember thinking what a nice mild April day it was, while I was waiting on my friend’s driveway. And then you came on air, at 3:38pm.

    We never left his driveway. Just sat there for hours, listening to the radio, crying. Eventually other friends came by. All of us just replaying Nirvana tracks, and trading stories.

    This radio footage brings back a lot of heavy memories.

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