Chapter 14

BURN AMERICAN FLAGS

OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON


MAY 1991–SEPTEMBER 1991

Maybe we can tour together in the States and burn American flags on stage?

—From a letter to Eugene Kelly, September 1991.

Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love first locked eyes on each other at eleven in the evening on Friday, January 12, 1990, and within 30 seconds they were tussling on the floor. The setting was the Satyricon, a small, dimly lit nightclub in Portland, Oregon. Kurt was there for a Nirvana gig; Courtney had come with a friend who was dating a member of the opening band, the wonderfully named Oily Bloodmen. Already an infamous character in Portland, Love was holding court in a booth when she saw Kurt walk by a few minutes before his band was set to appear onstage. Courtney was wearing a red polka-dot dress. “You look like Dave Pirner,” she said to him, meaning the remark to sound like a small insult, but also a flirt. Kurt did look a bit like Pirner, the lead singer of Soul Asylum, as his hair had grown long and tangled—he washed it just once a week, and then only with bar soap. Kurt responded with a flirt of his own: He grabbed Courtney and wrestled her to the ground. “It was in front of the jukebox,” Courtney remembered, “which was playing my favorite song by Living Color. There was beer on the floor.” She was glad her comment had gotten attention, but she hadn’t expected to be pinned to the floor by this little waif of a boy. For his part, Kurt hadn’t counted on his opponent being so tough: She was three inches taller than he was, and stronger. Without his high-school wrestling experience, she might have won the tussle. But the roll on the floor was all in jest, and he pulled her up with his arms and gave her a peace offering—a sticker of Chim Chim, the “Speed Racer” monkey he had made his mascot.

As Kurt later told the story to Michael Azerrad, he had an immediate attraction to Courtney: “I thought she looked liked Nancy Spungen. She looked liked a classic punk rock chick. I did feel kind of attracted to her. Probably wanted to fuck her that night, but she left.” Kurt’s suggestions were no doubt apocryphal—Tracy was with him in Portland, and despite his enchantment, it would have been unlike him to cheat. But the connection between Kurt and Courtney was sexual: Wrestling was a fetish of Kurt’s, and an opponent as worthy as Courtney was a major turn-on.

They parted that night but Courtney followed Nirvana’s career the way a baseball pitcher in the American League might follow the exploits of a National League player. She read Nirvana’s clips in the rock press, and she put Kurt’s Chim Chim sticker on her guitar case, even though she remained unconvinced about the band—their early material was too metal for her. Like most rock critics at the time, she preferred Mudhoney, and after listening to “Love Buzz” in a record store, she passed on buying the single. Seeing the band in concert later, she was more struck by their strange physical appearance: “Krist was really, really big,” she observed, “and he dwarfed Kurt to the point where you couldn’t see how cute Kurt was because he looked like a tiny boy.”

Her opinion of Nirvana, and the tiny boy, changed entirely when she bought the “Sliver” single in October 1990. “When I played it,” she recalled, “I was like, ‘Oh, my God—I missed this!’ ” On the B-side was “Dive,” which became her favorite Nirvana song. “It is so sexy, and sexual, and strange, and haunting,” she noted. “I thought it was genius.”

When Courtney’s friend Jennifer Finch became involved with Dave Grohl in late 1990, Nirvana and Kurt became a frequent topic of their girl talk. They nicknamed Kurt “Pixie Meat,” because of both his diminutive size and Kurt’s worship of the Pixies. Courtney confessed to Grohl that she had a crush on Kurt, and when Dave told her Kurt was suddenly single, Courtney sent Kurt a gift meant to move their wrestling match to a different arena. It was a heart-shaped box filled with a tiny porcelain doll, three dried roses, a miniature teacup, and shellac-covered seashells. She had purchased the silk-and-lace box at Gerald Katz Antiques in New Orleans, and before sending it she rubbed her perfume on it like a magical charm. When the fragrant box arrived in Olympia, it was the best-smelling thing in the Pear Street apartment, though this distinction wasn’t difficult to achieve. Kurt was impressed with the doll; by 1990 dolls were one of the many mediums he used for his art projects. He would repaint their faces and glue human hair onto their heads. The resulting creatures were both beautiful and grotesque, looking as much like child corpses as dolls.

Kurt and Courtney met the second time in May 1991 during an L7 concert at the Palladium in Los Angeles. Kurt was backstage drinking cough syrup directly from the bottle. In a bit of fate that was reminiscent of his first meeting with Tracy and their shared rats, Courtney opened her purse and displayed her own vial of cough syrup, a more powerful brand. They wrestled to the ground again, but this time it was more of a grope than a physical challenge. The vibe, according to those who witnessed it, was very sexual. When Kurt let her up, the tension lessened and they talked shop. Courtney was quick to brag that her band, Hole, had finished recording Pretty on the Inside, with Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth producing; Kurt talked about his own album, which was still in production. Kurt was usually meek when meeting someone for the first time, but in his efforts to impress Courtney, he pulled out every name and credential he could—he clearly wanted to one-up her. As Kurt soon discovered, few could gain a verbal advantage over Love. She knew far more about the music business than he did, and Hole’s career was accelerating as quickly as Nirvana’s at the time. She was a peer, if not a mentor to Kurt, in ways that went far beyond Tobi.

In their conversation, Kurt disclosed he was staying at the Oakwood Apartments; Courtney told him she lived just a few blocks away. She wrote down her phone number on a bar napkin and told him to call her sometime. She was earnestly flirting, and he was flirting back.

Breaking every rule of dating, he called her later that night at three in the morning, sounding like the desperate brokenhearted loser in Swingers. “There was a lot of noise in the background,” Courtney recalled. Kurt pretended as if he were phoning only because he wanted to discover where she got her cough syrup—he’d begun to prefer this to all other intoxicants that spring. But what he really wanted was to talk to her more. And as Kurt found out, Courtney could talk. This night, her normally booming voice was just a whisper—her ex-boyfriend and bandmate Eric Erlandson was sleeping in the next room. At the time, she was also in a long-distance relationship with Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins.

They talked for almost an hour, and it was a conversation Kurt would remember for weeks and weeks. Though he was typically direct and short-tempered on the phone, there were occasional individuals who could bring out the conversationalist in him, and Courtney was one of these. He was able to say things over the phone he’d been unable to speak in person just a few hours earlier. Kurt mentioned the heart-shaped box and thanked Courtney for it. It touched her that he’d noticed, but soon she went on to other topics, spewing forth a stream-of-consciousness rap that included producers, critics, Sonic Youth, guitar-playing, cough syrup brands, and songwriting, among other brief stops. She switched from subject to subject the way someone might flick the channels of a television remote control. When Kurt described the conversation to his friend Ian Dickson, he began by declaring, “I’ve met the coolest girl in the whole world.” As Dickson, and his other friends, came to complain that May, “Kurt would not stop talking about her. It was ‘Courtney says this,’ and ‘Courtney says that.’ ” It would be five months before they would see each other again, but during that time Kurt would recall their conversation frequently, wondering if it was real or just a drug-induced dream caused by too much cough syrup.

In early June Vig finished Nirvana’s album, and the band began the laborious process of overseeing mixing, mastering, and creating the cover and video. The initial budget for recording had been $65,000, but by the time the record was completed two months later, expenses were over $120,000. Vig had done an admirable job capturing the power of Nirvana’s live shows on a studio album, yet his mixes weren’t to the liking of the label or Nirvana’s managers.

Nirvana’s career was now being directed by three men: co-managers John Silva and Danny Goldberg from Gold Mountain, and DGC’s Gary Gersh. The trio took on the difficult task of convincing Kurt that the album needed remixing. Andy Wallace, who had worked with acts as diverse as Slayer and Madonna, was brought in. “Wallace’s mix was a big factor in making that record what it was,” Goldberg observed. Wallace mixed the basic tracks in a way that made them sound powerful on the radio: He created separation between the guitar and the drums, which created a sonic punch that had been missing from Nirvana’s previous recordings. Kurt agreed with this direction at the time, though he would later claim it made the album sound “candy-ass.” “Uniformly,” Wallace recalled, “we all wanted the recording to sound as big and powerful as possible.”

It wasn’t until early June that Kurt settled on a definitive title for the record. He had abandoned Sheep, thinking it sophomoric. One day he suggested to Krist they call it Nevermind. For Kurt, the title worked on several levels: It was a metaphor for his attitude about life; it was grammatically incorrect, combining two words into one, always a plus for Kurt; and it came from “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which was becoming the most-talked-about song of the sessions. Though the band had gone into the studio convinced “Lithium” was the hit, by the time the album was finished, “Teen Spirit” was being touted as the first single.

Kurt had spent two years planning liner notes and various concepts for the album cover, but in early 1991 he threw out all his ideas and started from scratch. That spring he’d seen a television show about underwater childbirth and he had the label try to acquire footage from the program, without success. Finally, Kurt drew out a slightly different idea on a sheet of notebook paper: It was a baby boy swimming underwater, chasing a dollar bill. It was a striking image, and initially there was some controversy about how prominent the baby boy’s penis was. For the back cover, Kurt insisted on a picture of Chim Chim resting on a vagina/meat collage.

For photos of the band, Kurt had hired New York–based photographer Michael Lavine, who flew to L.A. in early June. Kurt greeted him with a hug and then immediately showed off a huge sore inside his mouth. He also had badly infected gums, the result of infrequent toothbrushing. Never a fan of having his photograph taken, Kurt buttressed himself for the shoot by drinking an entire bottle of Jim Beam bourbon. But despite the infection, Kurt was in a good mood and smiled a lot. “He was really funny and friendly,” Lavine remembered. “We ate tacos and walked around and shot pictures.” When it came time to select the final pictures for the inner sleeve, Kurt chose a photograph in which he displays his middle finger.

By the second week of June, Nirvana were back on tour, their only real source of income. They did a two-week West Coast swing with Dinosaur Jr. and the Jesus Lizard. They were now playing the Nevermind songs, even though the album was months away from release, and at every show “Teen Spirit” grew in crowd response. Kurt returned to Olympia with enough money to buy a car; his old Datsun had been hauled to the junkyard. On June 24, he purchased a beige 1963 Plymouth Valiant for $550 from a friend. Though it had 140,000 miles on it, the car was in good shape and Kurt’s friends remarked that it looked like a car a grandmother would drive. He drove it very slowly as he tooled around Olympia—he thought driving ten miles under the speed limit would lessen the wear and tear on the engine.

Kurt and Tobi maintained a friendship, and both continued to talk about the record they wanted to make together. The only other woman in Kurt’s life at the time was Carrie Montgomery, Mark Arm’s old girlfriend, whom he had become close to. This relationship was platonic, though everyone in the scene, including Mark Arm, thought otherwise. Without a girlfriend, Kurt was more gloomy than usual, which was notable in itself. All his friends were excited for his success, but he didn’t share in their enthusiasm. It was as if the world was holding a parade in his honor, and everyone in town came to celebrate except the man himself.

When a young girl from England showed up in Olympia that summer, having flown over specifically to track Kurt down and bed him, he uncharacteristically slept with her. After just a couple of days, he realized his mistake, though since he avoided conflict, it took him almost a week to kick her out. When he did, she stood outside the Pear Street apartment screaming and cursing. It was the kind of incident that immediately became the talk of Olympia. Combined with his decision to sign to a major label, this infraction damaged his relationship with the Calvinists; increasing rumors of his heroin use only added fuel to the fire.

In July Grohl moved to West Seattle; Kurt was alone again and retreating even more from the world, if that were possible. He no longer limited his drug binges to one night a week—if he could afford heroin and find it, he’d do the drug all weekend and nod out by himself in the apartment. He wrote in his journal less, he practiced guitar less, and he escaped from the world more.

Even when he was sober, Kurt was getting more eccentric, or so observed his friends. He had a little white kitten named Quisp, and he dyed the cat’s fur (along with his own hair) red, white, and blue with Kool-Aid. He allowed Quisp, who was male, to have sex with the rabbit, Stew, who was female. Stew had an unusual vagina, which fascinated Kurt—her uterus was inverted, which meant it frequently stuck out. “He used to take a pencil and push it back in,” observed Ian Dickson. Kurt’s theory was that the cat having sex with the rabbit had messed up the rabbit’s reproductive tract, though he had made no attempt to stop their antics, and watching their cross-species mating had become one of his favorite pastimes.

That month Kurt and Dickson went swimming at a quarry outside of Olympia, and Kurt came home with dozens of tadpoles he’d captured. He dropped them in the aquarium, watching with glee as his turtles ate the tadpoles. “Look,” Kurt told Dickson, “you can see their little arms and pieces floating in the tank.” A young man who used to save birds with broken wings was now delighting in watching tadpoles being devoured by turtles.

The second week of July Kurt did something so uncharacteristic that when Tracy initially heard the news, she had to be told twice, since she couldn’t imagine she was hearing this about the man she once loved: Kurt sold his turtles. He claimed he sold them because he needed the money; it wasn’t because of his schedule, since he always managed to find friends to care for his animals when he traveled. He told anyone who would listen that he was poorer than he had ever been, despite having signed a major-label deal. He had asked $100 for the turtles, but when the buyer only came up with $50, he accepted that. Tracy visited the Pear Street apartment and found the fancy aquarium on its side in the yard. Curiously, some of the tadpoles used for turtle food had survived, and the grass was covered with tiny frogs.

On July 15 Kurt flew to Los Angeles for more work on the album cover and promotional photos. When he returned to Olympia on July 29, he found his material possessions sitting in boxes beside the curb; he had been evicted. Despite recording his major label debut that spring and signing a record deal, he had gotten behind on the rent. His neighbors, thankfully, had contacted Tracy to come and rescue the animals, but Kurt’s artwork, his journals, and much of his musical equipment were sitting in cardboard boxes beside the apartment. That night, and for several weeks afterward, he slept in his car.

While Kurt was sleeping in the backseat of his Valiant in Olympia, his managers and label bosses were in Los Angeles debating how many copies Nevermind was going to sell. Expectations within Geffen had begun very low, but inched up as an advance tape circulated. In truth, expectations were actually higher outside of Kurt’s own label than within the company. During 1990 and early 1991, Nirvana had become the hip band, and the advance spread like a virus among music industry employees in the know. John Troutman was one such example: Even though he worked for RCA, he dubbed several dozen copies and gave them to radio programmers and friends simply because he was enthusiastic about the band. Nirvana had built an audience the old-fashioned way, through their unceasing touring. On the eve of the release of the new album, they had a loyal fan base waiting.

Nirvana was signed to DGC, a smaller imprint of the Geffen label having only a few employees and just a couple of hit acts. In contrast, Geffen had Guns N’ Roses, the most successful rock group of the era. Geffen employees called DGC the “Dumping Ground Company,” instead of what the initials really stood for, the David Geffen Company, jesting that lame bands were put on DGC so as to not smear the Geffen name. Few at the label expected Nirvana to score a hit the first time out. “In the marketing meetings at the time,” observed John Rosenfelder, DGC radio promotion, “sales of 50,000 were what was planned, since Sonic Youth had sold 118,000 of Goo. We figured if it could sell half that, we were doing good.” The enigmatic label head, David Geffen, let his A&R staff run the label, but Rosenfelder slid a cassette of Nevermind to Geffen’s chauffeur, hoping to get the label’s boss behind the band.

Kurt and the rest of the band flew back to Los Angeles in mid-August to begin promotional efforts for the record and prepare for a tour of Europe. DGC was footing the bill for their hotel, a single room at the Holiday Inn. It only had two beds, so Kurt and Dave flipped a coin each night to see who would share with Krist. But to Kurt, any bed, even one shared with a gigantic bass player, was better than the backseat of his car.

On August 15 they played an industry showcase at the Roxy. Though the gig was organized primarily to allow Geffen executives to see their new property, it drew a crowd of movers and shakers from all walks of the industry. “It was strange,” remembered Mark Kates, DGC promotions director, “because everybody had to see them, everybody had to get in.” Their performance impressed even the normally staid Geffen executives. After the show, a Geffen vice president announced, “We’ll sell 100,000,” which was twice what he had been predicting two weeks before.

On the day of the Roxy show, the band had done their first radio interview for Nevermind at college station KXLU. John Rosenfelder drove them while they pelted Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups at passing cars. When Rosenfelder told Kurt Nevermind “was good music to get stoned to,” Kurt responded, “I want a tie-dyed shirt made with the blood of Jerry Garcia.” Like his “Punk rock is freedom” line, this comment, about the lead singer of the Grateful Dead, was repeated so often Kurt might as well have put it on bumper stickers. At the station, Rosenfelder produced a vinyl test-pressing of what they had now decided was the first single—it represented the very first public airing of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” On the way back to the hotel, Kurt raved about how great it sounded.

The band began the music video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” two days after the Roxy show. The concept for the video—a pep rally gone wrong—was Kurt’s. He wrote a basic treatment, detailing it down to the idea of using prostitutes as cheerleaders, with anarchy symbols on their sweaters. He told John Gannon, a cameraman he knew, that he wanted a “mosh-cam” to film him, “something I can smash my head against.” But Kurt struggled from the start with director Sam Bayer, whom he called “a little Napoleon.” Truth was, Kurt wanted to be directing the video himself. Bayer and Cobain got into a yelling match, but the director was able to use this to his benefit: Kurt was clearly angry, which helped sell the song. He was also drunk, having downed half a bottle of Jim Beam between takes. Kurt helped edit the final version and added the shot that showed his face almost pressing into the camera—it was the only time in the video his good looks were apparent. When the crowd careened out of control and into the band, it accurately recreated some of the band’s early shows played without a stage.

There was even a hidden joke in the clip, one that was lost on most who saw it other than Kurt, Krist, and a few of the Aberdeen “ClingOns.” A school custodian appeared in the video, pushing a mop and bucket. This was Kurt’s depiction of his former job at Aberdeen’s high school. Weatherwax High’s worst janitor was now America’s newest rock star.

Two days after the video shoot, the band left for a ten-date tour of Europe with Sonic Youth. Kurt had convinced Ian Dickson to accompany the band on the road. Since money was tight, Kurt promised his managers Dickson would share his room. “I know John Silva thought we were lovers,” Dickson recalled. At the time Silva wasn’t the only one who suspected Kurt was a homosexual: Many at Geffen and Gold Mountain wrongly assumed he was gay.

The European tour, much of which was captured in Dave Markey’s film 1991: The Year Punk Broke, was a watershed of sorts—Nirvana played to rabid crowds, and Kurt was uncharacteristically joyful. Advances of Nevermind had circulated, and the future success of the record hung in the air as if it had been preordained. This brief two-week tour was Kurt’s happiest time as a musician. “Even on the plane ride over there,” Markey remembered, “Kurt was bouncing up and down with happiness.” When Nirvana played the Reading Festival—England’s most influential rock event—Eugene Kelly of the Vaselines agreed to come onstage and do a duet on “Molly’s Lips.” As Kurt would later say, it was the greatest moment of his life.

Hole also played Reading; they were touring England, too. Kurt had run into Courtney the night before, when Hole opened up for Mudhoney. To spite Courtney, Kurt left the club with two groupies, though he later claimed he didn’t have sex with either of them. At Reading, Courtney was more generous. When Markey put his camera on her and asked if she had anything to say, she replied, “Kurt Cobain makes my heart stop. But he’s a shit.”

Reading was the first show where Kurt found Nirvana getting comparable attention to Mudhoney. Only four years earlier, Kurt had played his first public concert at a kegger and struggled to play loud enough to drown out the noise from the crowd—now he was playing to festival audiences of 70,000, and the instant he went to the microphone the entire massive crowd fell silent, as if a prince were about to speak. “There was this kind of cockiness about Nirvana that day,” remembered road manager Alex MacLeod. “They had a confidence.”

And for once, that confidence extended to Kurt’s feelings about himself. He had a glorious time on the tour, taking full advantage of his ascendant popularity. Most dates were festivals featuring five or six bands, and the atmosphere was one of an all-day party. “They joined what seemed like a traveling circus,” Markey observed, “and it didn’t feel like a burden to them—it seemed more like a vacation.” But it was a vacation out of a Chevy Chase movie: Every tour stop included a food fight or some form of drunken debauchery. Nirvana’s set was usually early in the day, and after playing they spent the afternoon drinking liquor provided by the promoters. By the time Nirvana made it to the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium on August 25, they were acting like fraternity brothers on spring break, trashing their dressing rooms and knocking over food trays. During a set by Charles Thompson of the Pixies, Kurt grabbed a fire extinguisher backstage and shot it. A year earlier he had been too shy to even meet Thompson; now he was trying to hose his former idol off the stage.

On the tour, Kurt rarely walked by a fire extinguisher he didn’t fire off. On earlier tours, his destructive tendencies had been fueled by frustration with his playing, problems with sound, or fights with his band-mates. But destruction during this brief flash in his life was driven by joyous exuberance. “The most exciting time for a band is right before they become really popular,” Kurt would later tell Michael Azerrad. In Nirvana’s case, this was undoubtedly August 1991.

When the tour hit Rotterdam on the first of September, it was almost with a nostalgic wistfulness that Kurt approached the last show. He was wearing the same T-shirt he’d had on two weeks earlier—it was a bootlegged Sonic Youth shirt—which had gone unwashed, as had his jeans, the only pair of pants he owned. His luggage consisted of a tiny bag containing only a copy of William S. Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch,” which he had found in a London bookstall. Perhaps inspired by his bedtime reading, the Rotterdam show turned into something out of a Burroughs novel after Kurt discovered some costumes backstage. “Kurt and Ian Dickson were drinking vodka in copious amounts,” recalled MacLeod. “They stole these doctor’s jackets and face masks, and they were storming around the place, bothering people. People would walk into the dressing room and get doused with orange juice and wine. At one point, Ian was wheeling Kurt around in a hospital bed. They’d be two floors up in this atrium pouring orange juice on these security guards and then running.” It was MacLeod’s job to control these antics, but he just threw up his hands: “We were 22 or 23 years old and in a situation that none of us ever imagined being in.”

In Rotterdam Kurt again encountered Courtney at a club. She was quick to ask for a ride back to England in the Nirvana van. Her coy dance with Kurt continued, and on the ferry over, as the band watched Terminator, Courtney flirted with Dave in an effort to get a rise from Kurt. When that failed, she left her purse with her passport in Nirvana’s van, and had to call the next day to retrieve it. Courtney found herself disappointed when Dickson and MacLeod returned the bag, rather than Kurt. He was playing coy too.

On September 3 Nirvana recorded another radio show for John Peel and then went out to celebrate their final night in England. Kurt insisted they find the drug Ecstasy, which he took for the first time. The next day he flew back to Olympia, ending one of the most joyous tours he would ever undertake. Still without a place to live, he fell asleep that night curled up in the backseat of his Valiant.

He returned to an Olympia that was much changed in the three weeks that he’d been gone, at least for him. While Nirvana was playing huge festivals in Europe, Olympia was staging its own festival, the 50-act International Pop Underground. Nirvana had originally been scheduled to play the IPU, but after their major label deal they were no longer an indie act, and Kurt’s absence at the biggest ball Olympia ever staged was notable. It marked the end of his relationship with the Calvinists, and the end of his time living in a city he loved more than any other, yet one he never felt welcome in.

But in a way, he was ready to leave. Just as Kurt had needed to break free of the orbit of Buzz, he had hit a developmental stage where he had to leave Olympia, Calvin, and Tobi. It wasn’t an easy transition, because he had believed in the Calvinist indie ideals and they had served him when he needed an ideology to break out of Aberdeen. “Punk rock is freedom,” he had learned, a line he would continue to repeat to any journalist who would listen. But he always knew that punk rock was a different freedom for kids who had grown up privileged. To him, punk rock was a class struggle, but that was always secondary to the struggle to pay the rent, or find a place to sleep other than in the backseat of a car. Music was more than just a fad for Kurt—it had become his only career option.

Before he left Olympia, Kurt sat down and wrote a final letter to Eugene Kelly of the Vaselines, thanking him for playing with Nirvana at Reading. In the letter, he demonstrated he had already begun emotionally departing Olympia. Surprisingly, he criticized KAOS, the much-loved radio station that had been one of his first public forums: “I’ve realized that...DJs have bloody awful taste in music. Oh, yes, and to prove my point, right now they’re playing a Nirvana song from an old demo.”

He wrote of the recent conflict with Iraq: “We won the war. Patriotic hypocrisy is in full effect. We have the privilege of purchasing Desert Storm trading cards, flags, bumper stickers, and many video versions of our triumphant victory. When I walk down the street I feel like I’m at a Nuremberg rally. Hey, maybe [we] can tour together in the States and burn American flags on stage?”

He ended the letter with yet another description of his circumstances, which, if Kurt had mailed the letter—as usual, he never put it in the post—probably would have shocked Kelly and anyone else who saw Kurt onstage in Reading, playing to 70,000 adoring fans. “I got evicted from my apartment. I’m living in my car so I have no address, but here’s Krist’s phone number for messages. Your pal, Kurdt.” That same week, the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” single went on sale in record shops.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at admin@erenow.net. Thank you!