Kurt Cobain’s Bass Guitar
‘Kurt Cobain’s Bass Guitar’ dates from the early 1980s, the guitar was sold for $43,750 in June 2009. The artist
Kurt Donald Cobain (1967-1994) was an American musician and singer-songwriter, primarily known as lead singer and guitarist of grunge band Nirvana.
Cobain formed the band with bassist Krist Novoselic in 1987. A leading group in the burgeoning Seattle music scene of the early 1990s, Nirvana produced three albums and scored a highly successful hit with single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
Cobain was regarded as the “spokesman of a generation”, a label he was uncomfortable with. His style, music, lyrics and message helped establish Nirvana as the “flagship band of Generation X”.
After struggling with depression, heroin addiction and an inability to cope with the pressures of his fame, Cobain committed suicide in April 1994, cementing his iconic status.
The Sears model bass guitar, serial number 20180, was used by Cobain to record demos at his Aunt Mari Earl's home in Aberdeen, Washington, USA.
The demos, entitled “Organized Confusion” and “Fecal Matter”, were recorded in 1982 and 1985 respectively. The demos thus pre-date the formation of Nirvana and are “rare to all but the most die-hard Cobain fans.”
It is accompanied by a picture of a teenage Cobain playing the guitar, as well as a letter from his Aunt Mari detailing the “provenance of the guitar.”
Reuters commented that “[t]he department-store bass stands as a humble contrast to the stable of Fender-brand guitars Cobain came to swear by as the frontman for Nirvana.”
The bass guitar might perhaps be regarded as less notable than others owned or played by Cobain; for example, the guitar played in the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” could be considered more iconic.
However, Cobain’s notoriety as a guitarist (rather than bassist) and the fact that it dates from an early stage of Cobain’s musical career make it a rare item, adding significant value.
On 23rd June 2009, the bass guitar sold for $43,750 at Christie's, New York, as part of the “Pop Culture” auction. It had been estimated to sell for £40-$45,000.
It was bought by a private collector.