Biographies & Memoirs

Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain

Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain

The art of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was all about his private life, but written in a code as obscure as T.S. Eliot's. Now Charles Cross has cracked the code in the definitive biography Heavier Than Heaven, an all-access pass to Cobain's heart and mind. It reveals many secrets, thanks to 400-plus interviews, and even quotes Cobain's diaries and suicide notes and reveals an unreleased Nirvana masterpiece. At last we know how he created, how lies helped him die, how his family and love life entwined his art--plus, what the heck "Smells Like Teen Spirit" really means. (It was graffiti by Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna after a double date with Dave Grohl, Cobain, and the "over-bored and self-assured" Tobi Vail, who wore Teen Spirit perfume; Hanna wrote it to taunt the emotionally clingy Cobain for wearing Vail's scent after sex--a violation of the no-strings-attached dating ethos of the Olympia, Washington, "outcast teen" underground. Cobain's stomach-churning passion for Vail erupted in six or so hit tunes like "Aneurysm" and "Drain You.")

Cross uncovers plenty of news, mostly grim and gripping. As a teen, Cobain said he had "suicide genes," and his clan was peculiarly defiant: one of his suicidal relatives stabbed his own belly in front of his family, then ripped apart the wound in the hospital. Cobain was contradictory: a sweet, popular teen athlete and sinister berserker, a kid who rescued injured pigeons and laughingly killed a cat, a talented yet astoundingly morbid visual artist. He grew up to be a millionaire who slept in cars (and stole one), a fiercely loyal man who ruthlessly screwed his oldest, best friends. In fact, his essence was contradictions barely contained. Cross, the coauthor of Nevermind: Nirvana, the definitive book about the making of the classic album, puts numerous Cobain-generated myths to rest. (Cobain never lived under a bridge--that Aberdeen bridge immortalized in the 12th song on Nevermind was a tidal slough, so nobody could sleep under it.) He gives the fullest account yet of what it was like to be, or love, Kurt Cobain. Heavier Than Heaven outshines the also indispensable Come As You Are. It's the deepest book about pop's darkest falling star. --Tim Appelo

Prologue: Heavier Than Heaven - New York, New York: January 12, 1992

Chapter 1: Yelling Loudly at First - Aberdeen, Washington: February 1967–December 1973

Chapter 2: I Hate Mom, I Hate Dad - Aberdeen, Washington: January 1974–June 1979

Chapter 3: Meatball of the Month - Montesano, Washington: July 1979–March 1982

Chapter 4: Prairie Belt Sausage Boy - Aberdeen, Washington: March 1982–March 1983

Chapter 5: The Will of Instinct - Aberdeen, Washington: April 1984–September 1986

Chapter 6: Didn’t Love Him Enough - Aberdeen, Washington: September 1986–March 1987

Chapter 7: Soupy Sales in My Fly - Raymond, Washington: March 1987

Chapter 8: In High School Again - Olympia, Washington: April 1987–May 1988

Chapter 9: Too Many Humans - Olympia, Washington: May 1988–February 1989

Chapter 10: Illegal to Rock ’N’ Roll - Olympia, Washington: February 1989–September 1989

Chapter 11: Candy, Puppies, Love - London, England: October 1989–May 1990

Chapter 12: Love You So Much - Olympia, Washington: May 1990–December 1990

Chapter 13: The Richard Nixon Library - Olympia, Washington: November 1990–May 1991

Chapter 14: Burn American Flags - Olympia, Washington: May 1991–September 1991

Chapter 15: Every Time I Swallowed - Seattle, Washington: September 1991–October 1991

Chapter 16: Brush Your Teeth. - Seattle, Washington: October 1991–January 1992

Chapter 17: Little Monster Inside - Los Angeles, California: January 1992–August 1992

Chapter 18: Rosewater, Diaper Smell - Los Angeles, California: August 1992–September 1992

Chapter 19: That Legendary Divorce - Seattle, Washington: September 1992–January 1993

Chapter 20: Heart-Shaped Coffin - Seattle, Washington: January 1993–August 1993

Chapter 21: A Reason to Smile - Seattle, Washington: August 1993–November 1993

Chapter 22: Cobain’s Disease - Seattle, Washington: November 1993–March 1994

Chapter 23: Like Hamlet - Seattle, Washington: March 1994

Chapter 24: Angel’s Hair - Los Angeles, California–Seattle, Washington: March 30–April 6, 1994

Epilogue: A Leonard Cohen Afterworld - Seattle, Washington: April 1994–May 1999

Source Notes

Picture Section

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!