On April 8, 1994, rock star Kurt Cobain was found dead in his home outside Seattle, Washington, with fresh injection marks in both arms and a fatal wound to the head from the 20-gauge shotgun found between his knees. Cobain’s suicide brought an end to a life marked by far more suffering than is generally associated with rock superstardom. But rock superstardom never did sit well with Kurt Cobain, a committed social outsider who was reluctantly dubbed the spokesman of his generation. “Success to him seemed like, I think, a brick wall,” said friend Greg Sage, a musical hero of Cobain’s from the local punk rock scene of the 1980s. “There was nowhere else to go but down.”
Kurt Cobain rose to fame as the leader and chief songwriter of the Seattle-based band Nirvana, the group primarily responsible for turning a thriving regional music scene in the Pacific Northwest into a worldwide pop-cultural phenomenon often labeled “grunge.” As enormously popular as Nirvana became in the wake of their era-defining single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991), it’s easy to forget just how far outside the mainstream the band really was, and just how ill-suited to pop celebrity the misanthropic, heroin-addicted Kurt Cobain was. In his suicide note, Cobain wrote: “I have it good, very good, and I’m grateful, but since the age of seven, I’ve become hateful towards all humans in general….Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I’m too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
Cobain’s suicide note was found stabbed to a pile of potting soil with a ballpoint pen, nearby his body in the greenhouse on his Lake Washington property. It was probably written on or about April 5, 1994—the estimated date on which Cobain actually shot himself and one day after Cobain’s rock-star wife, Courtney Love, filed a Missing Person Report stating that Cobain was possibly suicidal and in possession of a gun. It was not the Seattle police, however, but a workman inspecting lighting on Cobain’s property who first discovered Cobain’s body on this day in 1994.