Revisiting AP’s Kurt Cobain memorial cover story, 20 years later

April 4, 2014 by AltPress

Revisiting AP’s Kurt Cobain memorial cover story, 20 years later

But just days later, Seattle police received yet another emergency call from the Cobain home. This time, Love claimed that Cobain had locked himself in the bathroom with a gun and was threatening to kill himself. But when the police arrived, Cobain told them he wasn’t suicidal, but simply hiding from his wife. The SPD left the house with four guns, 25 boxes of ammunition and a bottle containing 25 assorted (and unspecified) pills. Cobain followed them out the door and left.

Still, things eventually smoothed over, and Cobain did indeed keep his promise to get help, entering California’s Exodus Recovery Center in Marina Del Rey on March 28. Everyone drew a huge sigh of relief.

Then without explanation or warning, Cobain left rehab three days later, eventually flying back to Seattle where he purchased a shotgun and seemingly disappeared. At the time, Love and daughter Frances were still in Los Angeles.

Two days later Cobain’s mother, Wendy O’Connor, filed a missing person’s report on her son. It was noted that he had “fled a facility” (the rehab clinic), “had bought a shotgun,” and though he was not considered dangerous, was suicidal. His mother supplied the address of a drug connection in Seattle, where she thought he might be found.

At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, Seattle music journalist Gillian Gaar called Love’s hotel in Los Angeles for their pre-arranged interview for a cover story for local music paper The Rocket. Gaar said she was told by the front desk that Love’s room number was accepting no calls.

A shroud of silence was surrounding the entire affair. Although the street had picked up on the tension, and rumor was spreading that Nirvana had broken up, in Seattle no one beyond Cobain’s immediate circle was even aware he was missing.

The Seattle Police went twice to the Cobain home in the upper middle-class neighborhood of Madrona, overlooking Lake Washington. Passing the brick wall and high bushes and trees that surround the shingled, gray house, the police drove up to the winding dive, there to be greeted both times by workmen. No one had seen Cobain. In fact, the police were beginning to have reservations about his missing status, privately believing he just didn’t want to be found. They were right.

AltPress Kurt Cobain Memorial Story

At some point, Cobain appears to have gone to the couple’s other home in the Carnation neighborhood of Seattle with someone accompanying him; two different brands of cigarette butts were found in an ashtray, one of which matched Cobain’s.

Love was desperately combing LA for her errant husband. At some point, she and Geffen hired detectives who fanned out looking for him in Seattle. Eventually they found him. The only problem was, he didn’t want to be found.

An insider confirmed that all involved “were doing everything they could. Kurt is a hard, hard… Nobody’s going to tell him, nobody will have control over him.” Unable to bring him in, a man was assigned to keep an eye on him. Love, who wanted to fly home to Seattle, was convinced by those around her that it would be better to stay in LA. The Madrona house remained locked and seemingly silent.

Another inside source who wished to remain anonymous relayed what happened next. “Someone was out there to watch him, and he fucked up. There’s only so much you can do; it’s a tragic thing. At some point the person’s got to reach out too.”

Sometime Wednesday night or Thursday morning, Cobain returned to Madrona alone. He pointed the shotgun to his chin and pulled the trigger. The hired men searched fruitlessly on. Cobain’s body lay for up to 36 hours before Smith discovered it.

The media circus swiftly grew. Camera crews set up outside the house, and a small trickle of mourners and curiosity seekers found themselves on the news. When that lost its allure, the film crews moved to local record stores, hang-outs and clubs, interviewing patrons at the Vogue and the Crocodile—venues closely associated with Nirvana’s early days in Seattle.

Friday was a long day. Shocked fans flooded radio switchboards across the country in an outpouring of grief. Suicide prevention lines reported an enormous surge in calls. Tributes from the famous, and not so famous, were broadcast. The music community in Seattle, still recovering from the murder of the Gits’ Mia Zapata, was left reeling by this latest tragedy.
 

By Saturday, flowers and keepsakes were being heaped at the Cobain home, as more camera crews arrived. Love finally arrived back in Seattle that afternoon, returning home with a group of family and friends in hired black limos. Michael Azerrad, author of the official Nirvana biography Come As You Are, was elected to deliver a short message from Love to the waiting crowd. She thanked her fans for their support and had no comment for the press. >>>

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