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Behind-The-Scenes Stories From Kurt Cobain's Childhood That Shed Light On The Enigmatic Frontman

Updated August 26, 2019 116.6k views12 items

He was the Jim Morrison of Generation X, a hard-edged rocker with a sensitive heart and the soul of a poet. And like Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and many more since he was also troubled. As you'll see from this detailed look into how Kurt Cobain grew up, many of those issues stemmed from an unhappy childhood and dysfunctional family life. He turned to illicit substances as a way to both cope with reality and escape it, and the result was a spiral he didn't survive.

While the information accumulated here isn't exactly a list of fun facts from Kurt Cobain's childhood years, it is a list of sobering facts that shed more light on the man behind the myth - and the issues that plagued the vulnerable, openhearted little boy who lived inside one of the most iconic figures of the twentieth century. "There’s good in all of us, and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too f*cking sad," he wrote in a note before his passing. 

  • Photo: Montesano High School / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    His Aunt Mari Was Instrumental In Fostering His Love Of Music

    Cobain got his love of music from his Aunt Mari, who has said her nephew started singing and writing lyrics as a toddler. Mari Earl was a local musician in the Aberdeen area. While Kurt's parents gave him his first drum (a tin toy), she helped foster his love of listening to and making music. 

    In 1985, Mari let him use her home to record his first demo with his band. When she saw Kurt on MTV in 1991, she remembered: "I felt happy for him, I felt afraid for him. 'Cause I knew that he wasn't the most stable person in the world."

  • He Was Picked On In High School

    Cobain was focused on art and music during his adolescence. He also had an openly gay friend. Both of these facts made him a target for aggressive peers, who thought he was gay, too. Cobain often wondered if this was true.

    After word got out that he had lost his virginity to a developmentally disabled girl, the teasing intensified, and Cobain tried to end his own life by putting his feet in cement blocks on the railroad tracks. The train missed him. 

  • He Wished He Was Gay Just To Upset Ignorant People

    Kurt Cobain was an ally before such a term was widely used. In his teenage years, he and a gay friend of his were inseparable. When closed-minded people accused Kurt of being gay himself, he didn't take it as an insult. In fact, he said, "I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes." In 1993, Cobain told The Advocate:

    I used to pretend I was gay just to f*ck with people. I’ve had the reputation of being a homosexual ever since I was 14… I mean, I’m definitely gay in spirit, and I probably could be bisexual.

    In the liner notes for the Insecticide record, Cobain wrote:

    At this point, I have a request for our fans. If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us - leave us the f*ck alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.

  • He Was Diagnosed With Scoliosis In The Eighth Grade

    When he was in the eighth grade, Cobain suffered a slipped disc while jumping rope. Soon after, he was diagnosed with scoliosis. Scoliosis only worsened with his frequent guitar-playing. Not only did he now have a physical ailment that made him a target for ostracization, but he was also in pain.

    "You can’t really correct scoliosis because it’s a growth in the spine," he later said. "It gives me back pain all the time."