I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news that he was gone. Heck, I still remember what I was wearing.
It was a sweltering summer morning. I was with my family in my Dad's old car, sweating in my yellow polo shirt and shorts. The radio was on, and news came in that Kurt Cobain was found dead in his home. I couldn't believe it; wanted to overreact upon hearing the horrible, horrible news, but decided I shouldn't do that in the presence of my very religious mother or she might have me exorcised.
Kurt Donald Cobain was a disturbed genius, the Byron of my generation. He popularized a whole new genre of music and demoted another. In 1991, Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit invaded the airwaves with an unpretentious aggression, giving a voice to to the pent-up emotions of the youth. Before Kurt and his guys came in, rock music was all about big hair, spandex, vocal acrobatics and theatrics. Nirvana had none of that; they introduced an edgy, unpolished flavor of anti-art - aptly called grunge - which quickly caught on and made glam rock seem like last night's leftovers.
To this day, Teen Spirit is one of the top rock tunes of all time. It's probably Nirvana's most popular hit, but it wasn't the only one. There also was the similarly testosterone-laden Come As You Are, Lithium and In Bloom, all written by Cobain. The iconic Nevermind was followed by In Utero and an MTV Unplugged album.
Grunge's come as you are philosophy sparked a fashion trend and a way of life. It was suddenly attractive to look disheveled and unkempt, admirable to be so laid-back and low-maintenance.
Alas, on the 5th of April, 1994, A drug-drowned gunshot to the head. A suicide, authorities said. Age 27, in the fashion of other rock superstars like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. His death was surrounded with controversy, as some believe it to be a murder. Read more here.
Kurt went away, and grunge left with him. There was suddenly a void where he and his music should have been. Many tried to keep grunge alive, but holding up a standard of it defeated the purpose of anti-art. In the mid-90's came a wave of what was called post-grunge, which was pretty much more cleaned up, watered-down and more sellable.
Kurt and his work was never forgotten, especially not by those he gave a voice to. He remains today an icon of rock, a gritty-but-fond memory of our growing up years.