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On April 8, 1994 Pearl Jam played a concert in Fairfax, Virginia. Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam’s lead singer, addressed the crowd with the following words before Pearl Jam began their set.
“We are elevated a little more than usual, either that or I've gotten taller. I don't think it's a very good thing to elevate yourself. I think it would be a very dangerous thing... sometimes, whether you like it or not people elevate you...whether you like it or not, and it's very easy to fall. So..uh..I don't want to be the messenger, somebody who delivers bad news, you know. Kill the messenger, but I don't think any of us would be in this room if it weren't for Kurt Cobain.”
Earlier that day, the world had learned of the death of Kurt Cobain. Cobain, the man who almost single-handedly made the world take notice of Seattle’s alternative music, had been found dead in his house outside of Seattle. Suddenly, Nirvana was no more and bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Candlebox stepped out of Nirvana’s shadow to take their place at the front of the growing alternative music scene. Despite the well-known animosity that existed between Vedder and Cobain, Vedder knew as well as anyone that, without Cobain, Pearl Jam’s music would probably never have been heard outside of Seattle.
On April 8, 1994 at 9:40 A.M., Marty Reimer, the morning DJ on KXRX-FM, a Seattle alternative music station, received a phone call from the dispatcher of Veca Electric, local security company. Gary Smith, an electrician who worked for Veca Electric, had been installing a security system at the mansion outside Seattle owned by Kurt Cobain and his wife Courtney Love. Smith saw Kurt Cobain’s body on the floor in a room above the garage, a room that later came to be called “The Greenhouse”. Smith said that he saw blood in Cobain’s right ear, and a shotgun across Cobain’s chest, pointing up at his chin. Smith called his boss, who called Marty Reimer at KXRX-FM and then called the police.
At 10:15 A.M, two Seattle police arrived at the Cobain residence and found the greenhouse locked. They could tell that the body inside was dead. A few minutes later, a fireman broke through a window, allowing the police into the greenhouse. One of the officers found a note written in red pen stuck into a dirt pile with a red pen. The officer concluded that the note was a suicide note and wrote in the police report that the note was “directed to Courtney [Love].” Kurt’s left hand held the barrel of a Remmington 20-gague shotgun which rested between his legs, pointed toward his head. The shotgun had been sold to Kurt and a friend. His head rested in a pool of drying blood. A spent shell casing was nearby. Two more shells were loaded in the shotgun; a brown paper bag nearby contained a box of twenty-two live shells that had originally contained twenty-five. Many of Kurt’s other belongings, including a box of drug paraphernalia, were found around the room.
It has come to be widely reported that Kurt’s driver’s license was found next to his body and that the Kurt’s face was unrecognizable without the license. In fact, Kurt’s face was largely intact, and both the officers who arrived on the scene recognized him. One of the officers took Cobain’s license out of his wallet and propped it up next to the body.
Shortly after 11:00 A.M., three coroners from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office arrived at the Cobain residence and took little time in concluding that Cobain died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Cobain residence had by this time become a media circus, and the media soon learned of the coroners’ conclusion. It was reported to the world that Kurt Cobain had committed suicide. The police report said “Suicide” under the “Subject” heading, said that the gunshot wound to Kurt’s head appeared to be self-inflicted, and mentioned the “suicide note”.
There is much controversy about the cause of Kurt Cobain’s death. Considerable circumstantial evidence has been revealed that suggests that Cobain was murdered. In their book Who Killed Kurt Cobain?, Ian Halperlin and Max Wallace summarize this evidence. There were no legible fingerprints on the shotgun that inflicted the fatal wound to Cobain. There were also no fingerprints on the pen used to write the “suicide note” or on the box of shotgun shells. It is hard to imagine that Kurt could shoot himself without leaving fingerprints on the gun. Kurt died with three times a lethal dose of heroin in his bloodstream. Such a dose would knock even the most tolerant addict unconscious in seconds. After shooting up, Kurt would not have had time to put away his needle, much less to put away his needle and then shoot himself. The last four lines of the “suicide note”, which were written after Kurt signed his name, were not written in Kurt’s handwriting. The rest of the letter, which was written by Cobain, does not mention suicide, and it has been suggested that Kurt was planning to leave Nirvana and wrote the note to explain this to his fans. Only with the four lines written by someone else is the note a suicide note. Lastly, Kurt’s credit card was used twice between the when he died (as determined by the medical examiner) and when his body was found. The greenhouse was locked when the police arrived and there were no signs of forced entry. The authors of Who Killed Kurt Cobain? suggest that whoever killed Kurt took his credit card.
A Los Angeles Private Investigator named Tom Grant has investigated Cobain’s death extensively and claims that he can prove that Courtney Love was involved in a conspiracy to kill Cobain. His evidence, which is mostly hearsay is shaky at best. His conspiracy theory centers on a singer named “El Duce”, the lead singer of The Mentors. “El Duce”, who claims that Courtney Love offered him $50,000 to kill Kurt Cobain, died in 1997 after being hit by a train.