Tag Archives: Generation X

Kurt Cobain – The Reluctant Rock Star

kurt cobain

Kurt Cobain

Where were you when Elvis died? Where were you when you heard that JFK was shot? Every generation has their own pop culture tragedies that affect them in personal ways. Gen-xers are no different and experienced their own shock when they heard that Kurt Cobain committed suicide on April 5, 1994.

I was driving southbound across the Cedar Avenue bridge when I heard the news on the local rock station here in the Twin Cities. I was never a gigantic Nirvana fan from the onset, but the news hit me hard just the same. I was part of that older Gen-X segment that mostly grew up with the hair and metal bands of the ’80s. Many of us viewed Nirvana and the grunge movement as an assault to the technical proficiency and song writing we were used to in rock music.

We didn’t think it would last. Boy, were we wrong.

I appreciate Nirvana and what they brought to music now more as an adult. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the profoundness of history being made while you are living it. 

Kurt Cobain was always known as the “reluctant rock star.” I disagree with that assessment. I believe Kurt was pretty selfish and knew what he was doing all along. Read between the lines of his suicide note if you want evidence of that. Stardom didn’t drive him to suicide; mental illness and drugs did. Let’s not forget that.

10 interesting facts about Kurt Cobain:

  • Cobain was prescribed the drug Ritalin to treat his hyper-activity as a child.
  • On his 14th birthday, his Uncle Chuck gives him a choice between a bicycle and an electric guitar as a gift. Cobain chooses the latter and receives some lessons from his uncle’s band mates.
  • As a child, Cobain had an imaginary childhood friend named Boddah.
  • Kurt joined the wrestling team in junior high school, the local baseball team while in high school, and took the entrance exams to join the Navy (which he passed).
  • Before Nirvana, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic played in a band together called Stiff Woodie.
  • Cobain suffered from chronic stomach and back pains most of his life.
  • Nirvana played their last concert in Munich on March 24, 1994.
  • Kurt dropped out of school to get a job and ended up a roadie for The Melvins, who ultimately introduced Cobain to Dave Grohl.
  • He had been listening to R.E.M.‘s album, Automatic for the People, before taking his own life.
  • There was a family history of suicide. Two of Cobain’s uncles committed suicide with guns.
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Top 5 80’s (early 90’s) Rock Screamers

I am a child of the 80’s. As a Gen Xer, I grew up listening to the hard rock, hair bands, and metal of the mid-eighties through early 90’s. I debate these groups on a somewhat regular basis over beers and wings with some of my musician friends. The argument on best lead vocals usually ends in a stalemate, but we all agree that very few singers in music today do it like these guys. 

Here are my picks for the 5 best 80’s (early 90’s) rock “screamers.” By “screamer,” I mean dudes who could wail like a banshee, hit notes like a chick, and still make it sound badass.  These choices are based only on vocal talent, uniqueness of sound, and to some degree their ability to hold notes for a long period of time. This is not a popularity contest, a debate on what band was cooler, or who had more hit singles.

#1 Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses)

#2 Sebastian Bach (Skid Row)

#3 Jeff Keith (Tesla)

#4 Miljenko Matijevic (Steelheart)

#5 Michael Sweet (Stryper)

Who did I miss?