Kurt Cobain’s Suicide Note

Over twenty years ago on this date, April 5th, we lost one of the great voices and talents of a musical generation. Three days later, his body was found in his Seattle home by VECA Electric employee Gary Smith, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. In case you haven’t already guessed, we’re not talking about Dewey L. Fausett, descendent of George Washington and WW2 veteran. We’re talking about Kurt Cobain, lead singer and guitarist for Nirvana, one of the most influential and popular grunge bands of all time. If you were to believe the official story, Cobain was a depressed junkie who opted out of life via shotgun blast to the head, leaving behind a beloved daughter Frances Bean and loving wife, Courtney Love. However, looking closely at Kurt Cobain’s suicide note and the circumstances surrounding it, you could be forgiven for thinking that something very fishy had taken place instead.

kurt cobain suicide note fish lyrics
You heard the man.

Discovering the note

Cobain was found three days after his death, and six days after private investigator Tom Grant was hired by Courtney to find him. The note was found in a nearby flowerpot with a red pen jabbed through the middle. Written in the same red, at first glance it would appear to be a typical suicide note, but upon inspection there are some inconsistencies.

kurt cobain's suicide note
A scan of the faxed copy of the note itself. Signed by the police captain on the scene, bottom right.

The first part of the note (which you can read here), addressed to childhood imaginary friend Boddah, seems to be focusing on the musical part of his life, and has been interpreted as his intentions to leave the music scene and Nirvana behind. The last part, with the larger letters and visibly different handwriting, is more typical of a suicide note, saying things like keep going, you’ll be better off without me and such. Forensic linguist Carole Chaski spoke about the linguistic differences as well between the earlier part of the note and the end, implying strongly that they were not written by the same person. There’s also been studies that were implemented at the behest of Tom Grant showing lighter pressure was made on the last few lines. Further studies of a note that was found on the stairs on April 7th alleged that one had been written by Courtney also. Said note had purportedly been left by Cali (Michael Dewitt, nanny of the house) berating Kurt for being in the house without telling anyone, and Grant feels that it was left there for him to find. On its own, all of this weirdness is a little suspect but maybe not enough to really change people’s minds about the official story. What forensic document examiner Heidi Harralson has to say about the next bit of evidence is another story.

Practicing Kurt’s handwriting

During the investigation, a piece of paper was found in Courtney Love’s bag, and the paper appeared to be filled with handwriting practice. Specific letters repeated over and over in slightly different styles, combinations that were found at the end of Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.

courtney love practice letters kurt cobains suicide note
Courtney’s practice sheet (Stetler/Soaked In Bleach)

In an interview with David Fricke for Rolling Stone, Love was pressured with questions as to the strange and confusing tone of the suicide note. Lo and behold, she reveals that there was another note that had been under a pillow in their bedroom. This is in direct contradiction to Tom Grant’s claims, who already had searched in that spot and found nothing when looking for Cobain in the days between his death and his discovery. Some of the lines she quoted to Rolling Stone are:

You know I love you, I love Frances, I’m so sorry. Please don’t follow me… I’ll be there, I’ll protect you. I don’t know where I’m going, I just can’t be here anymore.”

… which don’t seem to be suicidal, more of a goodbye to a daughter that he might end up leaving in the custody of Love after a potential divorce…

kurt cobains suicide note think about it
Think about it…

Taking notes on the note

It has also come to light, by Love’s own admission, that she was the author of yet another note found in Cobain’s wallet, sometimes known as the “bitch with zits” letter. It’s a mockery of wedding vows that appears to be a vitriolic attack on Courtney labeling her a sponge and a “whore,” which at the time led many to believe that he indeed hated her. However, Love has admitted that she wrote the note as a kind of twisted love letter, which further muddies the water and leaves us still grasping for the truth underneath this library of material found on or around Cobain’s body. We could look to the note that Cobain apparently wrote during his last alleged suicide attempt, but on the advice from Sgt. Donald Cameron, one of the detectives on the case it turns out that Love burned it, so we just have to take her at her word about what really happened.

While none of these pieces are exactly a smoking gun, taken together they are surely cause for some alarm. This many inconsistencies and notes appearing and disappearing left, right and center, along with Love’s well-known capacity for manipulation and rumor point towards a roughly crafted conspiracy. However, whether due to the incompetence or oversight of the Seattle Police Department or a more sinister reason, Cobain’s death was ruled a suicide and remains so.

The Seattle PD receives almost weekly pleas from people to reopen and investigate the case, including from former Seattle Chief of Police Norm Stamper. Nevertheless, even after all the outcry and documentaries attempting to expose a different side to the story, there still seems to be no change forthcoming. With the original note locked up in Courtney’s possession, a decades-old death mired in controversy and obfuscation, and numerous fruitless attempts at exposing all the dark corners of this tragedy, it’s doubtful we’ll see anything substantial happen soon. It’s like there’s Something In The Way…

Featured Image Credit: Kirk Weddle

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