The Truth About Kurt Cobain's Never-Before-Seen Letter To His Fans

Love him, hate him, or muttering "Who?" — Kurt Cobain died far too young. The frontman for the band known as Nirvana gave rise to a whole pop culture phenomenon, grunge (great name, yes?) and as a songwriter gave a generation of angst-driven, directionless teens an anthem in "Smells Like Teen Spirit." So pervasive did he become that to this day, high school marching bands perform the tune.

Biography tells us Cobain was born in 1967 in Aberdeen, Washington. He was artistic at an early age, first drawn (so to speak) to graphic arts. He discovered punk, and a fire was lit within him. A first band, Fecal Matter, didn't go very far. In 1988 Cobain began to work with bass player Krist Novoselic to form Nirvana. Drummer Dave Grohl completed the lineup in 1990. Cobain was doing much of the songwriting, giving voice to an anti-establishment vibe that quickly became conflicting — once the band achieved commercial success (and with the album Nevermind they most certainly did), didn't they, by definition, become members of the establishment? The success was explosive, and he was unprepared. "If there was a Rock Star 101 course, I would have liked to take it," he told Rolling Stone in 1994. "It might have helped me."

Cobain broke guitars, and the hearts of his fans

By his own admission, Cobain had long suffered from significant stomach pain. Nothing he did or tried seemed to offer any relief — "vegetarian, exercise, stopping smoking, and doctor after doctor," as he wrote in a diary entry. The problem had persisted for five years. "I wanted to kill myself every day," he said. "I decided to medicate myself." For Cobain, that meant heroin and, eventually, addiction, whether he wanted to admit it or not.

He addressed the issue in a sort of letter he wrote to his fans that wasn't circulated during his lifetime. According to Billboard, Cobain wrote the letter in 1992 after a stay in rehab, including these words, typos intact: "I decided to relieve my pain with small doses of heroine for a walloping 3 whole weeks. It served as a band-aid for a while but then the pain came back and I quit." He added, "It was a stupid thing to do and Ill never do it again."

The problem was, he did. Heroin was in his bloodstream when he committed suicide with a shotgun at the age of 27. The entire text of his letter to his fans was included in a volume of Cobain writings published in 2002, titled Journals.