Column: Leave the Kurt Cobain case alone

One of Kurt Cobain's guitars in the Nirvana exhibit at the EMP Museum at Seattle Center in Seattle, Washington. (Jessie Hodge/Creative Commons)

Kurt Donald Cobain committed suicide in his home just over 22 years ago, and even today there is an air of mysticism and fascination surrounding his death. Conspiracy theorists argue that his wife, Courtney Love, played a hand in his death while others say he was a member of the “white lighter club.”

The speculation around Cobain’s death has caused the Seattle Police department to release evidence from the case periodically over the years. On Thursday, March 17, 2016, the SPD released photos of the shotgun Cobain used to kill himself, in an effort to quell speculation that the gun was melted down in a strange conspiracy theory to hide evidence.

While it is human nature to remain curious about shocking events of the past, there is no reason to martyr the life of Kurt Cobain. Instead, the Cobain family should be given their privacy and be allowed to mourn in peace.

Before getting into the details of the issues, it’s important to understand the backstory. Kurt Cobain was the lead singer for the grunge band Nirvana. Even though Cobain was a successful and talented musician, like many of his kind he led a very troubled life.

On April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain committed suicide in his home in Seattle where he was found by an electrician. Cobain was survived by his band members, wife and daughter. While many fans and observers questioned the SPD’s conclusion that Cobain had committed suicide, others martyred Cobain as a music god of the grunge scene.

The deaths of famous musicians have always fascinated the public. With so many fans and so much influence, few easily accept the passing of their idol. This fascination can also turn dangerous, such as when Kurt Cobain’s daughter, Francis Bean Cobain, reported that a mentally unstable man broke into her house in 2012. She said that this man had an obsession with her father and was prepared to kill her fiancé because he didn’t approve of who she was with.

Beyond the mentally unstable who require medical treatment, everyday people and fans of Cobain need to maintain a grip on reality. Kurt Cobain was a truly gifted artist that was taken from this world long before he should have been.

However, people should not obsess over the way he died, but instead remember his life. They should remember the troubled life he led and use his unfortunate passing as a tragic lesson.

The problem with today’s society is that we only view celebrities as objects. Yes, to many of us they are idols, people we aspire to be. Yet celebrities are also people. Their lives should not be the subject our fascination. Cobain is just one of many celebrities who has been martyred since his death.

John Lennon was arguably one of the most talented musicians who ever lived. Since his murder in 1980, legions of fans have developed a morbid fascination about his life and death. Some even had theories that “Strawberry Fields Forever” contained a predictive secret message regarding Lennon’s death. This fascination to find something out of the ordinary serves no purpose and should not be perpetuated. 

Conspiracy theories are by themselves of no harm, no matter how crazy or unfounded. These theories cannot, however, be acted upon in an effort to change the narrative. Kurt Cobain’s death is a closed case; any concerns regarding evidence should be brought to the attention of the SPD, not the media machine. 

The Seattle Police Department is not in the right here, either. There was no reason to give any credibility to the rumors by releasing photos of Cobain’s suicide weapon. This action only serves to give more ammunition to conspiracy theorists, further restricting the Cobain family’s ability to put this case to rest.

Kurt Cobain was an iconic artist and idol to many; but, he was more than that. He was a father, a husband, a brother and bandmate. Our generation mourned his death, we cannot forget that an entire family fell apart in the aftermath of his suicide. Instead of obsessing over his death and martyring him, we should honor his family’s wishes and let his legacy be all that lives on. The Cobain family deserves privacy and should be left alone.

Update 7:50 p.m. March 23, 2016

This story was corrected to show that Kurt Cobain was found by an electrician. An earlier version of the story claimed that his body was found by his wife.


Amar Batra is a contributor to the Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at amar.batra@uconn.edu. He tweets at @amar_batra19.