How Many Times Was Kurt Cobain Arrested?

Kurt Cobain will doubtless go down in music history as one of the greatest songwriters and musicians of his generation, if not of multiple generations. As The Edge reports, Cobain encapsulated the despair, existential dread, and hopelessness of some members of his generation, and in particular, people like him: poor, experiencing drug addiction, the child of a toxic relationship with their parents, etc. As a teenager, Cobain couch-surfed, slept under bridges, raised hell, and got into drugs (via Britannica). Indeed, Cobain's fondness for heroin would bedevil him for his entire life, including an overdose in 1994 that almost killed him. Further, he was in drug treatment when he took his own life in April of that year.

Despite his teenage rebellion and homelessness, and his decade-long fondness for an illegal drug, Cobain managed to — mostly — stay on the right side of the law, racking up only one known arrest for a relatively minor teenage indiscretion.

Kurt Cobain was arrested once, for vandalism

When Kurt Cobain was 17 years old, he dropped out of high school with two weeks left to go (via Inside Edition). For his efforts, he was thrown out of his mother's home and became one of the many homeless teenagers living on the streets of Seattle. In between couch-surfing, doing drugs, and making friends with future bandmate Krist Novoselic, Cobain liked to get into shenanigans. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, one night, Kurt and some friends — including Buzz Osborne of the Melvins — were spray-painting graffiti all over the Seattle suburb of Aberdeen when the long arm of the law came calling. "We walked around the corner of this bank and all of a sudden there's cops, a bunch of cops everywhere. And we just take off running in different directions," Osborne recalled during "Divine Monkeyshines: Valentine's Day Special." And while Kurt's friends managed to evade the cops, Kurt wasn't so lucky and wound up spending the night in jail.

As Vintage notes, a rumor sprang up that Cobain was arrested for spray-painting "God Is Gay." In fact, he did spray-paint that here and there, but he was never arrested for it. Instead, his one arrest was for spray-painting "ain't got no how watchamacallit."