Nirvana was genius. The band took the grunge scene created by such mediocre bands as Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden, put it on the map and showed that American rock and roll wasn't dead in the '90s.
With Kurt Cobain at the helm, the three piece combo exploded onto the scene in 1987 with Bleach, on the independent label, SubPop. Next came Nevermind, with the explosive song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Instantly a hit, the song propelled Nirvana into superstardom, making the grunge scene less of a subculture and more a lifestyle for Generation Xers.
As the band's fame grew, so did the popularity of Cobain, soon called the "spokesman of a generation" as he sang about drugs, sex, violence -- the usual trappings of rock music, yet somehow made more angry and poignant at the same time by the lyrics he wrote. He also became widely known as a hardcore heroin user. He said he had to take the drug to combat the severe, gnawing stomach pains he had all the time, but most people against the band just called him an out and out druggie. Nevertheless, his stardom grew.
Cobain cited many musical influences. His favorite album was the Stooges' Raw Power and one of his favorite musicians, Neil Young. The latter, in fact, was instrumental in forming Cobain's guitar styling; Cobain used the same kinds of guitars and pedal set ups as Young. This love of a master turned Cobain into probably the greatest guitarist of the grunge scene; certainly the band's immense popularity attests to that.
But Cobain's heroin addiction would ultimately catch up with him. As the band performed on MTV's Unplugged, where it did an amazing cover of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" among others, he began to deteriorate into depression. Some surmise that the shy, quiet man just couldn't adapt to the intense fame and accompanying pressures it brought.
Nevertheless, Cobain married Courtney Love of the band, Hole, and they had a child, Francis Bean, together in February, 1992. Their marriage was rocky and it seemed as though he didn't even want to be married to her. Yet they stayed together. Some said they did heroin together and this brought them closer. Who knows.
Sadly, he died an early, painful death. No, this was unrelated to his heroin addiction. Instead, he became suicidal. Love says his first suicide attempt came in Paris in 1994, when he was hospitalized with bronchitis and laryngitis and eventually overdosed on champagne mixed with Rohypnol. Failing at that, he later succeeded by shooting himself. In fact, on April 8, 1994, his body was discovered at his home, as was a suicide note addressed to his imaginary childhood friend.
News of his death really shook the world. Vigils, the largest held in Seattle, where Nirvana started out, took place as thousands upon thousands mourned the death of this new music legend. A genius lost, a voice now left unheard. Over 7000 people attended the Seattle vigil, for example.
A lot of rumors about his death soon surfaced. People argued that Love actually killed him; this was even explored in the documentary, Kurt and Courtney. In fact, speculation surrounding his death still exist today. However, it's hard to deny that he killed himself, ending a long life of pain and mental torture.
Indeed, rock music lost a great figure when Kurt Cobain died.