Newspapers in History

Kurt Cobain’s suicide remembered (locally). 

Newspapers in History

5th April marks the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and browsing Twitter we stumbled across this newspaper article from the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison,WI), 14th April 1994,  on Peter L. Twohig’s blog,  collecting a mixture of fan and public responses to Cobain’s suicide. Despite nobody in the office still being a particularly big Nirvana fan, aside from maybe a residual influence on cardigan style and happy memories of rowdy teenage house parties, we found this little piece of ephemera fascinating – opinion, typically, is varied. To spare you straining your eyes, below we have transcribed the newspaper article for you.

Kurt Cobain Wisconsin State Journal

Memories of Cobain Mixed
By Elizabeth Brixey

Nirvana was ‘an awesome band,’ Nirvana was ‘a garbage band.’

From preteens to middle-agers, State Journal readers had strong opinions about the alternative rock group out of Seattle and about its lead singer and songwriter, who died last week of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

When we asked in Tuesday’s Daybreak what Nirvana meant to you and how you will remember Cobain, we got at least 124 calls – as many as this particular answering machine would take.

Here are some responses:

Scott Kaeppel, 37, Pardeeville: ‘I’m going to forget about how sad the last month of his life was and I’m going to remember that he was a real artist and put a lot of heart and soul into his music. That’s the way I want my daughters to remember him, too – not for the lifestyle but for the music, which was the most important thing.’

John Tayes, 20: ‘ It’s very sad that he’s gone – it’s sad when anyone dies – but I don’t like the way everybody’s making him out to be a hero. As far as I’m concerned, he wasn’t our voice. He wasn’t the voice of Generation X. He was a musician, and I don’t think he was a hero. He was addicted to heroin and had a lot of problems.’

Gabe Crilley, 12, Mount Horeb: ‘Nirvana meant a lot to me. They’re an awesome band… Kurt Cobain – I’m really sorry that he had to leave.’

Dana, 14, Madison: ‘The band Nirvana meant to tme that I could do what I wanted to do without caring what other people say about me, and I will remember Kurt Cobain as somebody who followed his dreams without letting other people get in his way.’

Michael Lestinger, 15, Sun Prairie: ‘Nirvana… was a great band and they had a great impact on not just my life but on a lot kids my age. I will remember Kurt Cobain as the genius that I know he was and that he was going through a bad time in his life and took the easy way out.’

Jennifer Moore, 12, Madison: ‘Kurt Cobain committed an act of alleged suicide. This might come to (make him) stand as a role model. It’s the same thing with ‘Beavis and Butt-head’ when they said,”Heh-heh, set the house on fire” and one of the fans did set the house on fire.’

Shane Ryan, 14, Lodi: ‘Kurt, he was my idol … I will remember him as an idol and I’ll listen to the CDs and stuff. I mean, he was a good influence on me – I got my life back together, I thought he was pretty awesome.’

Jason Glomp, 16, Madison:  ‘Kurt Cobain … was a leader in music. He was a pioneer in grunge. He was a poet and a musician. He wasn’t a god, but that’s the way people looked at him. The band Nirvana gave me a chance to go and lose the world I was in and escape to another place.’

Will, 27: ‘I feel that Nirvana was very influential in the music scene. But Kurt Cobain getting everything he wanted and committing suicide, he went out like another worthless punk.’

Brian, Madison: ‘I’ll remember Kurt Cobain for his sheer song-writing talent, his outspokenness and his humor. He was a fragile being. I would like his memory to stand for all the pleasure he brought to the world but also as a reminder of the vulnerability of our fellow man.’

Jeff Ritchey, 25, Madison: ‘Nirvana, to me, will epitomize somewhat the voice of Generation X, with its continuing message of despair and the lack of growing opportunities for the young class. Kurt Cobain – hopefully his death that was senseless and preventable will not be forgotten and will help show that choices can be made, even though Kurt’s was wrong.’

Dick, Sun Prairie: ‘Kurt Cobain is a lowlife scum and I am amazed that people like you would try to glorify him … He’s absolute slime, and you’re trying to glorify him through this to the young kids of this country.’

Caroline Horn, Mount Horeb: ‘What did the band Nirvana mean to me? It’s the freedom to be as angry and bitter as you want and still make great music. How will I remember Kurt Cobain? As a blue-eyed singer with a lot more to do. He was a great singer and very talented. I would have loved to hear what he would have done with Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M.’

Michael, Madison: ‘I’m only a city employee. I just have a regular life. I mean, I do things, I go out and hang out and everything and I have an OK time. But let me tell you: They say money don’t make you happy, but you give me 10 million bucks and I doubt if I’ll be blowing my head off.’ ■

Of course, before publishing this article we asked Peter L. Twohig‘s permission, and we strongly recommend you follow his blog Weird S*** in Newspapers for more unusual miscellany and ephemera. Peter L. Twohig is also professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS Canada, where he teaches in the Department of History, Atlantic Canada Studies, and Irish Studies.

Image courtesy of Aritz Alvarez.

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