Kurt Cobain passed 18 years ago and like when John Lennon passed, I was genuinely devastated.
I was also in bad shape at that point. I ran into Kurt on a few occasions with Teenage Fanclub when they toured together in 1992/93. It was around that time I first met Courtney Love, Kurt's then partner.
What's sad is he had really only just begun in music. I think some people just handle that level of attention better than others, and I think Kurt found it not just difficult, but impossible.
I remember coming back from the States the week before Nevermind came out with a CD from Geffen for me and Bobby Gillespie. We both found it mind-blowing as a collection of songs. In these pre-packaged pop times, I find the thought of somebody these days having the balls to sign a Kurt Cobain almost impossible. I watched the Brits and apart from Noel Gallagher it was just pop as in out and out corporate pop music.
Cobain was obsessed by William Burroughs, one of the great thinkers of recent times. In the book The Journals Cobain reveals that he wanted Burroughs to appear in the video for the lead song off Heart Shaped Box. The Journals sketch the evolution of the video's symbol-laden, elliptically autobiographical narrative.
At first, it was to star William Burroughs, who Cobain evidently revered as a long-lived defier of convention and for his aleatoric compositional technique, morbid mythology, and sardonic W.C. Fieldsian cynicism. Here was the first scene, expressing Cobain's sense of himself as repository of Burroughs' artistic spirit: "William and I sitting across from one another at a table (black and white) lots of blinding sun from the windows behind us holding hands staring into each others eyes. He gropes me from behind and falls dead on top of me. Medical footage of sperm flowing through penis. A ghost vapor comes out of his chest and groin area and enters my body".
Burroughs wouldn't do the video, so Cobain used a generic old man on a cross being pecked at by crows. To him, birds also symbolised old men advocating death: "Me-old man," he writes. "Have made my conclusion. But nobody will listen anymore. Birds [are] reincarnated old men with tourrets syndrome... their true mission. To scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth... screaming bloody murder all over the world in our ears but sadly we don't speak bird." One of the many great Kurt Cobain stories and insights to his mind.
An absolute star he refused to play the corporate rock game. We all hate the music business, yet funnily enough you learn to love music again if you leave the music business and put on The Beatles White Album, but it was confusing for me for a few years.
Losing Cobain was a really sad time for me personally, Primal Scream were playing two nights at Brixton and I was in exile from myself in rehab. I phoned Gillespie to tell him of his death and he dedicated the track Damaged to Kurt Cobain during one of the shows.
A month ago Gillespie sent me a text and it said ''we are all damaged sons'', and he's right on many levels. Kurt Cobain still is in most people's hearts alive as his music is still relevant, just like John Lennon.
They are magical souls and minds who both live on through their music. It's just a pity we never got more music and that he couldn't find inner happiness. He was real and that's why he is still loved today and will be in another 50 years. In the musical world of 2012 filled with fakes - he continues to shine.