Twenty years since the tragic suicide of grunge legend Kurt Cobain, countless books and articles have been published, re-mastered versions of his music have been released, and now it seems a Broadway musical is to be made. However, many Nirvana fans are left wondering how Cobain himself would feel about his likeness being adapted to a sing-along stage play. It is no secret that he was not a supporter of commercialism, even though his fame itself was a product of it.
Courtney Love, the pop singer and Cobain’s widow – also executor of his estate which is estimated to be worth $450 million– said that the production will only take place if they can find the best and most respected writers, director, and producers to create it.
“There would have to be a story, and a great story – one that hasn’t been told before,” Love told NME.
But with nearly a dozen biographies that have been published since his death, what story will that be? Will it be the story of a wandering, angst-filled, fragile soul trying to express his need, or lack thereof, for acceptance through music. Will it be about an icon, to a generation of both youth and music, who folded under the weight of his own stardom, which was the product of the very cliché he despised? Or the tragedy of a rebel, a man, and a poet who was taken from the world much too early, and in his wake the subversion to capitalize and exploit his work by those closest to him?
Love is no stranger to attempting to capitalize on her late-husband’s fame. In 2001, Love allowed director, Baz Luhrmann, to use eight seconds of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in his film “Moulin Rouge” in hopes of landing a part she was auditioning for. She did not get the part.
In 2006 she sold 25 percent of her share of Nirvana’s publishing rights for a whopping $50 million to Primary Wave Publishing, a share larger than both remaining members of Nirvana put together.
Love said she had been searching for “a partner in the proper development and exploitation of the catalog.”
Exploitation is a fitting word.
The question still remains, “Where does Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic stand on the making of Kurt Cobain on Broadway?”
The surviving members of Nirvana have been locked in a feud with Courtney Love for some time now, since she sued the pair in 2002 over unreleased Nirvana material they wished to publish.
Grohl, the lead singer of Foo Fighters, in particular has been in Love’s crosshairs. Back in 2009, Love blasted Grohl, blaming him for the distasteful likeness of Cobain appearing in the video game, Guitar Hero 5, as an unlockable character where the reanimated Nirvana frontman would be forced to lip sync gushy pop songs by the likes of Bon Jovi, which Love called a “travesty.”
Activision — the game’s producer who came under fire from Love who threatened to sue for their use of Cobain’s image — later released statements that Love was indeed involved in the creation process and that she even picked out the wardrobe for the avatar along with supplying Activision with photos and video to base the likeness off of.
Love maintains that she was involved, but never intended to sign off on a final agreement, so the video game producers were in breach of contract. Love went on to blame the entire ordeal on Grohl and a band of greedy lawyers, stating “[Grohl] was always a bad seed and is still riding the s*** while I take bullets.”
In 2012, Love took to Twitter where she accused Grohl of attempting to seduce her then 19 year-old daughter, Frances Bean Cobain – Kurt Cobain’s only offspring. Frances later made a statement refuting all the accusations even going as far as saying, “Twitter should ban my mother.”
Love still maintains a controlling share of the Nirvana estate so whether Grohl and Novoselic are on board or not does not seem to be much of an issue, or strangely even a question, to many following the event.
It is unclear at the moment, as the production is still in its infancy, if this musical will be an appropriate adaptation and loving tribute to the adored punk icon, or if the Broadway musical will be just another perversion of Kurt Cobain’s legacy.
Opinion by Cody Long