Alternate History

Kurt Cobain (What if Kurt hadn't shot himself?)

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Kurt Cobain (born February 20th 1967) is an American-born musician best known for being the lead vocalist and guitarist for the grunge band Nirvana from 1987 to 1996, and from 2013 to the present day. He is also well-known for his successful solo career, which consisted of two albums, 'Nostalgin' (1998), and 'Spinning Top'. Cobain almost died in March 1994 from an overdose of Rohypnol while Nirvana were performing in Rome, however he made a successful recovery and was forced to go rehab in response. This near-fatal accident gave Cobain the foresight to become clean and inspire others to do the same, culminating in the Stay Clean project, launched with the help of other musicians, such as Eddie Vedder and George Harrison.

Recovery from drug addiction and Odyssey (1994 - 96)

Following a near-fatal drug overdose, Cobain was admitted into the Exodus Recovery Clinic in Los Angeles. He spent four months in rehabilitation and was released on 28th July 1994 a clean man. He now devoted himself to being a family man, and called off any plans for Nirvana's fourth studio album for the time being. During his time away from music, Kurt befriended former Beatles guitarist George Harrison, also a former heroin addict. They both wanted to ensure that young people didn't fall into the same trap that they did, and with the help of fellow recovering drug addict, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame, they launched the Stay Clean rehabilitation programme. This project pledged to provide every single drug addict in the US with the opportunity to get clean, by launching free rehab centres in every state in the country, and to educate children on the dangers of drug abuse. The program proved successful and approximately 1.2 million people in the US took part in some way during its first year of service. Musicians across the world also got involved, with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder donating the proceeds from the band's third album, Vitalogy to the project, with the Smashing Pumpkins doing the same with their album 'The Aeroplane Flies High'.

Following the success of the Stay Clean project in the US, Nirvana began recording their fourth studio album, Odyssey. Influenced in part by the artists that Kurt had met over the course of the project and over the course of his life, the album was a shift in change from the band's previous albums. This caused unrest from bassist Krist Novoselic, who claimed Kurt had 'gone soft since doing that stupid project'. The arguments were reported at the time, but what wasn't known at the time was that the band had actually disbanded for a short time in August 1995, after relations between Cobain and Novoselic reached crisis point. Dave Grohl later commented: "It was a struggle to get them to finish the album. Krist felt that Kurt was devoting too much time to Stay Clean and Kurt felt Krist was bringing the band down with his attempts to revert back to the grunge era. I'm surprised Kurt ever came back after the fights they had." But come back Kurt did, and Odyssey was released in October 1995, just six weeks after the band had reformed, to worldwide success. It became the best-selling album in American history, and the title track became Nirvana's first chart topper in the US. Riding the wave of Nirvanamania, the band brought the Odyssey World Tour forward six months to April 1996. Just two years after Cobain nearly died, he was experiencing success even greater than he had been at that point.

Nirvana's split and Cobain's musical hiatus, Nostalgin (1996-99)

The Odyssey World Tour ended on the 18th August 1996 at the Reading Festival in England. Following this, Nirvana took three months out before they came back to record their fifth studio album. In this time, many changes occurred. Cobain decided to launch Stay Clean out of the US, and test launched the project in Britain. Smear and Grohl recorded a psychedelic album under the name of 'Foo Fighters'. Krist Novoselic blocked all contact with his band members and joined Pearl Jam on their Vitalogy tour. This led to further animosity within Nirvana, as Kurt now saw Novoselic as 'Eddie Vedder's little lapdog'. The band got together to record the fifth studio album on the 27th of November 1996, however very little recording took place, as arguments between Cobain and Novoselic escalated. On the fourth day of recording, an argument between Grohl and Novoselic angered Cobain, as Krist supposedly referred to the Stay Clean project as 'the worst thing that happened to this band' and said of Kurt that 'he wished he'd overdosed in Rome'. This conversation occurred due to the other three band members (Cobain, Grohl and Smear) wanting to pursue a more alternative route, whereas Novoselic believed grunge was still alive and Nirvana should stay in the genre. Cobain responded to the comments by walking out of the recording studio, and calling Novoselic to thank him for 'destroying Nirvana'. Novoselic attempted to keep the band going as a three-piece outfit, but Grohl was also angered by comments made about the Foo Fighters and stormed out with Smear. The resulting recording sessions led to Novoselic's solo album 'Bitter Recollections' (released March 1998). On the 20th December 1996, Cobain and Grohl had an interview with MTV. During the interview, the reporter asked about the fifth album, and Cobain responded by saying on live television, "Nirvana are officially on hiatus. I have all the respect for the guys, and it's been the best nine years of my life, but it just isn't any fun now, and we need some time away from it all to rediscover the magic that made it so good in the first place." Cobain then billed up the Foo Fighters' solo album, before leaving the interview. Nirvana seemed to be dead in the water, to the shock and devastation of fans worldwide.

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