[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 5 April 2004, 07:24 GMT 08:24 UK
'The Kurt I knew...'
By Stephen Dowling
BBC News Online entertainment staff

As the music world prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death on Monday, Anton Brookes - Nirvana's former UK press officer - remembers the band's rise and fall.

Kurt Cobain
Nirvana's first album was 1989's Bleach
Mr Brookes - who runs music PR company Bad Moon Publicity - worked with Nirvana from 1989, when they were unknowns, to Cobain's suicide in 1994, when they were arguably the biggest rock band in the world.

First impressions: "I first heard of them in 1989, when their song About A Girl came out on the Sub Pop Singles Club. That's when I first heard that track and Spank Thru - and to be honest I thought it was rubbish!

"But then I heard them do a cover of Love Buzz and it was fantastic. They were like The Beatles meets Black Sabbath.

"I'd taken a journalist out from the magazine Sounds to do an interview with Tad [a grunge band Nirvana were touring with]. Tad were much the bigger band."

On Nevermind: "He sent me a tape once, of songs that were going to be on their album Nevermind, and it was taped over a copy of the band's first album Bleach. You got to the track Lithium [later one of the band's most successful singles] and you had to turn it over halfway through.

"I always remember Kurt telling me they had pop songs, and these songs were going to be Top 10 songs. Back then, our idea of the 'Top 10' was being as big as Sonic Youth or the Pixies, or getting a gig at Brixton Academy and maybe selling it out."

On their last UK gig: "When they headlined Reading, I was standing on the side of the stage with my business partner, and I looked out at the audience, and there were people as far as the eye could see - just standing in the rain - covered in mud up to their knees.

"That was so special. It was one of the best moments of my life. It turned out to be their last UK gig. It was amazing because as a band they had come from nothing."

Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain
Cobain's daughter Frances Bean (right) is now 11

Talking about Cobain: "One of the reasons I like doing interviews about Kurt is that it keeps it alive. It's nice to be able to offer another side that people don't normally get to read about.

"It's not Kurt the voice of a generation, it's Kurt the friend, Kurt the father, Kurt the band member. He was down-to-earth and a really nice guy. He was really warm and caring, and he was very vulnerable."

Nirvana and England: "He loved coming over to England. The band had been slogging across the US without making a dent. Over here, they were getting a lot more recognition as musicians, as a band, and they were drawing bigger crowds.

"They would come over and play a venue, and it would be full and the people would know all the words. They were overjoyed."

On the day Kurt died: "I got the first call at 4.30 in the afternoon. I just thought it was another 'Kurt is dead' rumour. But you still have to speak to management, just for peace of mind.

"And it's not the same people ringing up, it's all the news agencies and the big TV stations and newspapers and radio. It began as a trickle, and then the calls kept coming through: 'Kurt is dead'.

I went home and made a little shrine out of pictures I'd cut out of magazines
Anton Brookes

"You're hoping it's an accident, or that it's not him - please don't let it be an overdose. Then I get a call from management. Straight away I know something is wrong because they won't say anything. Their manager says to me 'they've found a body', but they won't confirm who it is.

"I'm pacing the room, I'm aggravated. People are ringing me up and quite a few times I have to point out that we're talking about a person who has a daughter and they should be a bit more caring.

"I went home and made a little shrine out of pictures I'd cut out of magazines, and some love beads and a candle and a cross, and I had a cry with my wife.

Cobain live with Nirvana
Mr Brookes finds listening to Nirvana "painful"
"Then I went out with Phil Alexander, from the rock magazine Kerrang!, and we talked about the first time we saw Nirvana, and what they meant to people.

"Afterwards we went to this club, and halfway through the night they played Smells Like Teen Spirit. Everybody looked at me, and I was like 'I'm fine, I'm fine'.

"The record company rang me and asked me if I wanted to go to the funeral. People were saying 'You should be there'. But I didn't want to get on that plane. I didn't want to see the circus around it."

How he feels now: "I never listen to them or read about them, I find it quite painful still. But I get a rush when I see kids wearing Nirvana T-shirts.

"I buy all the Nirvana books when they come out but I don't read them.

"But on the first day the Best Of came out, I was near Virgin Records and I went and bought it. I went up to the display and picked it up, looked at it, took it to the counter, and paid for it. That day I was a Nirvana fan again."


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific