When I was about 12 years old, my long blonde hair started to get greasy. Conveniently, this was around the same time I became a Kurt Cobain fan.
I discovered Kurt thanks to my new best friend in sixth grade, my first year of middle school. Out of the four or five elementary schools in the area I grew up in, mine was clearly the worst—the kids were all terrible pussies, our playground sucked, and the school mascot was a fucking Scottish terrier. It’s no wonder so many of the kids from that school grow up to be maladjusted. But this suffering made my transition into middle school an exciting one, because all the elementary classes got shuffled up into one big mix, and it opened all kinds of new doors for a young kid in the suburbs trying to bust out of this lame ass elementary school bubble.
I picked my new best friend wisely. His name was Bill, and he was... slow. We mostly talked in Beavis and Butthead voices, we cheated in school, we lit things on fire, we stole a lot of shit, and we broke a lot of things. This is what Bill and I did. I don't want to blame it all on Bill—maybe I was slow too, I don’t know. It’s hard to judge how slow you are. In a lot of ways, I’m slow, probably.
Looking back, I realize that Bill was mostly a bad influence, but there are a few things I owe him thanks for. One of them: he introduced me to Nirvana. By this time, Kurt Cobain was already dead. I knew “All Apologies” because my mom loved that song, but I had no idea who Kurt Cobain was or how much of an effect he’d end up having on my life.
Within a year, I was obsessed. I had at least five Nirvana posters on my wall, I started getting into rare foreign-only Nirvana albums and VHS tapes, and when I saw the picture of Kurt Cobain with pink hair in the liner notes of In Utero, I dyed my hair pink.
Kurt Cobain was a drug addict who killed himself, and in a few very major ways, he isn’t remembered as the best role model. But his lasting influence is powerful and positive, and one of the most important things he did for music is bring underground to the mainstream however he could. Kurt grew up in the Seattle punk scene and when he got famous, his mentality didn’t change. He was adamant about exposing his new audience to his influences, and as a result he introduced a mainstream crowd to a lot of music that they’d otherwise be oblivious to.
To this day, I credit a lot of my appreciation for indie rock and underground culture to Kurt Cobain (and Bill). With Nirvana, Kurt fronted one of the most important bands of the decade, but his influence reached far beyond his own music. From songs he covered to bands he openly praised to t-shirts he wore, Kurt promoted a lot of independent music, and for many young fans he helped shape taste and interests in a major way.
Today, on what would have been Kurt's 46th birthday, here are 12 bands Kurt Cobain introduced to me.Click to start the list