25 Notable Extremes Musicians Were Driven To By Drugs

Kurt Cobain Kills Himself Twice

Few musicians' experiences with drug abuse have been as complex and intense as Kurt Cobain's. For proof of this, see the index of Charles Cross' 2001 Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven. If you check, "Cobain, Kurt Donald; drug use of..." you'll basically be instructed to read the entire book. He started off heavily averse to heroin; during his formative years, a friend suggested they try it and he stopped hanging out with him in response. He eventually tried the drug; when asked how it was by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, he shrugged, "Oh, it was all right." But his habit escalated.

By the time Nirvana appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1992, Cobain was so deep in heroin addiction that he was vomiting and barely able to stand right until the time came to perform. He somehow pulled it together long enough to play "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Territorial Pissings" on live television. In March 1994, Cobain attempted suicide for the first time by washing down a large dose of flunitrazepam with champagne while in Rome. He nearly died and ended up in a coma for a day (Novoselic claimed that, mentally, he was never the same after this).

Within weeks he was back in Seattle, crashing on his daughter's junkie nanny's girlfriend's couch and popping out occasionally to purchase speedballs and burritos. Cross quotes the girlfriend as saying, "He'd sit in my living room with the hat with the ear coverings, and read magazines. People came and went; there was always a lot of activity going on. Nobody knew he was there or recognized him." By the end of the month, Cobain was given an intervention and packed off to rehab in California. But he soon escaped the facility by scaling a six-foot wall and, improbably, found a seat on a flight back to Seattle next to Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan.

Despite beef between Nirvana and Guns N' Roses, the two bonded, finding a great deal of common ground as famous musicians from the Pacific Northwest with heroin problems. Once back at his house, Cobain reattempted suicide and this time he meant business. He injected a lethal dose of heroin and then blasted himself in the head with a shotgun, effectively killing himself twice. He was 27 years old.

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