AOH :: WHOKILLD.TXT|
WHO KILLED KURT COBAIN?
Two years after the death of Kurt Cobain, a number of people believe the
leader of Nirvana did not commit suicide and that his death was the result of foul play.
You'll be shocked by what they have to say.
Taken from http://www.hightimes.com
APRIL 96 VOL. 248
WHO KILLED KURT COBAIN?
BY TIM KENNEALLY AND STEVE BLOOM
Two years after the death of Kurt Cobain, a number of people believe the
leader of Nirvana did not commit suicide and that his death was the result
of foul play. You'll be shocked by what they have to say.
PRIVATE EYE OF THE STORM
Beverly Hills, CA private investigator Tom Grant, a 49-year-old grand-
father of seven and seven-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's
Department, hardly falls into the demographic of the average Nirvana fan.
So it's not surprising that when, on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1994,
Courtney Love hired him to track down her husband Kurt Cobain's missing
credit card, he initially thought little of the assignment. "I knew
vaguely who Nirvana was," says the PI.
Grant was about to embark on a road of deception, intrigue and cover-ups
that would lead him, nine months later, to a shocking conclusion regarding
the death of Kurt Cobain, who allegedly committed suicide on April 8,
Grant's first clues that all was not right came during his meeting with
Love later that day at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, where she was
staying. "She told me on the phone that someone was using her husband's
credit card and she wanted to find out who it was," recounts Grant. "Then,
when I met her at the hotel, she changed that immediately to, 'It's not
someone else using his card, it's him, and I'm trying to locate him.' It
just kind of spread from there."
Cobain, at the time, was AWOL from the Exodus Recovery Center, a drug-
rehab clinic in nearby Marina del Rey. Working on Love's suggestion that
Kurt "may have gone to Seattle," Grant sub-contraced local investigators
to do surveillance on Cobain's known haunts in Seattle. What Love
neglected to tell Grant was that Michael "Cali" DeWitt, the couple's
nanny, had seen Cobain at their house on Lake Washington Boulevard on
April 2, the day before she hired the PI. Given Grant's assertion that
Cobain died "late Sunday morning [April 3] or early Monday morning [April
4]," this omission may have caused a fatal--and possibly deliberate--delay
in his investigation.
Grant arrived in Seattle 11:30 PM on Wednesday, April 6. Dylan Carlson, a
close friend of Cobain's who from all reports was the singer's drug buddy,
took him to the house. It was raining as they searched the house at 2:15
AM on April 7. But the garage/greenhouse a stone's throw away from the
main house remained unexplored; Carlson failed to direct him to the
greenhouse, later telling Grant that "it's just a dirty little room."
The greenhouse was a 19-foot by 23-foot room above the garage. The scene
that unfolded there on the morning of April 8, when an electrician noticed
a body lying on the floor at 8:30 AM, could hardly be viewed as arbitrary
to the outside world. Cobain, who had a predisposition toward suicide
(with perhaps one attempt already under his belt--the overdose on Rohypnol
in Rome on March 4, 1994), was discovered with a Remington M-11 20-gauge
shotgun resting on his chest and a pool of blood seeping from his ear. A
single shell had entered through the roof of his mouth and lodged in his
head. A kiss-off note lay nearby. A neater example of suicide would be
hard to find. It appeared that Kurt Cobain had finally put an end to his
miserable, drug-plagued, multiplatinum life.
Exactly a month later, on May 8, Grant wrote a letter to Love, who he was
still working for, expressing his doubts about the generally accepted
suicide theory. "I'm sure you know by now that my investigation has been
somewhat more active than you might have been aware of...I consider the
circumstances surrounding your husband's death to be highly suspicious.
I've decided to continue working on this case until I see its conclusion,
without additional charges."
Amazingly, Love continued to employ Grant for the next seven months,
during which time he was given unrelated and largely insubstantial matters
to look after. Grant believes she kept him on the payroll so she could
keep tabs on him and periodically "pick his brain" for what he knew and
didn't know about the Kurt case.
Disregarding the Seattle police department's report in the Seattle Times
on May 11 that stated "there's been no foul play--just an early death that
no one could explain," Grant reached his own dramatic conclusion eight
months later: "Michael DeWitt and Courtney Love were involved in a
conspiracy that resulted in the murder of Kurt Cobain, and there may
possibly be others involved."
The scenario, according to Grant, goes like this: Kurt was planning to
divorce Courtney and simultaneously leave the music business. He had
spoken to Rosemary Carroll, one of the couple's attorneys, about having
Courtney taken out of his will. The note found with Cobain's body, Grant
asserts, was a farewell to his fans, not a suicide note. "It was not
addressed to Frances [his daughter] and Courtney, as the police report
claims, and it doesn't say anything in there about suicide," says Grant.
Of course, Cobain's retirement would have resulted in untold future
revenue losses. His decision not to headline the Lollapalooza '94 tour had
already cost somewhere in the vicinity of $9.5 million. And, no matter
how generous the settlement, a divorce would have led to a further
depletion of Courtney's coffers, certainly amounting to less than what she
stood to gain from inheriting the Cobain fortune. With that kind of money
at stake, Grant contends, the situation was ripe for murder
"There's no doubt in my mind that Kurt was hanging out up there in the
greenhouse with a shotgun," explains Grant. "That was like a little
lookout tower for him over his whole property, and I do firmly believe
that he was in fear of his life. He was going to be flying out of Seattle,
probably within hours, certainly within the next day or two.
"So he was up there, and whoever came in there with him was probably doing
drugs with him until they got him loaded. He had three times the lethal
dose of heroin in his system [at the time of his death]. Now that doesn't
necessarily mean he would have died from that dose, but it certainly
would've put him out. It's highly unlikely that he would shot himself up
in both arms, put the needle away in his little kit and then have the
mental capacity to sit there and manipulate this shotgun and shoot
himself. If he wasn't unconscious, he was at least to the point where he
wasn't aware of what was going on. Anybody could have done anything with
Grant says he contacted the Seattle police immediately after the body's
discovery; not surprisingly, he received coolly. "There's a body there and
a shotgun and what they think is a suicide note, so it's real easy to jump
to that conclusion," he says. "It also makes their job a lot easier. In
fact, they were upset that the homicide units even had to go out there.
The homicide guys told me, `You know, we wouldn't even be on this thing if
it wasn't Kurt Cobain.' The stuff they fed the press about how they
investigated it as a possible homicide is total bullshit. This was never
looked at as a possible homicide."
He attributes their reluctance to investigate further to both human nature
and manipulation on Love's part. The missing-person report phoned in by
Love (for which she claimed to be Cobain's mother, Wendy O'Connor) was
ambiguously worded to suggest that Cobin had purchased the shotgun after
he fled the rehab center (although a receipt found at the scene confirms
that he bought the shotgun before he left Seattle for Marina del Rey). And
she continually stressed to the police, the public and anyone else who
would listen that her husband was suicidal.
Grant's concern about the "copycat" suicides committed by misinformed
Nirvana fans spurred him to go public with his claims on December 13,
1994, in an interview on the "The Gil Gross Show," which is syndicated to
175 stations by CBS Radio. Love's lawyers learned of Grant's scheduled
appearance when Gross promoted the interview on the show a few days before
it took place. "They called and warned us that we better not do it," says
the show's producer, Greg Cockrell. "They made clear there would be legal
action. Gil said, 'Go ahead, we're doing it anyway.'"
Except for requesting a tape of the show, Gross never heard back from Camp
Courtney. Her lawyers, however, did succeed in gaining a public apology
from "The Tom Leykis Show," a radio program sydicated by Westwood One
Entertainment to 116 stations, after they ran an interview with Grant on
January 5, 1995.
Love's attorneys also filed a complaint with the California Department of
Consumer Affairs in an attempt to revoke Grant's investigator's license.
Grant recently applied for and received a renewal of it.
"They are making an all-out effort to scare everybody away," say Grant.
"Of course, they're blowing smoke. Anything they would do would just bring
more attention to the case, and that's exactly what they want to avoid."
Conversely, that's exactly what Grant is trying to encourage. Though he's
been accused of being a profit-motivated publicity-monger, Grant says his
aim is true. He continues to compile information, hoping to build a strong
enough argument to compel the Seattle police to reopen the case. "They
need to answer a lot of questions," he challenges. "But they won't unless
they're under enough pressure. Until we get some acknowledgment of the
facts and the details in the press -- the inconsistencies, the
misinformation--there's nothing that can be done. We can't get past first
When that happens, "additional information will be revealed that will lead
the investigators down a path of discovery," promises the PI, "and this
house of cards will fall."
GUNMAN FOR HIRE?
Watching El Duce perform with his band, the Mentors, Hollywood's kings of
porn-metal, certain images come immediately to mind. As the stocky lead
singer growls his way through salty tales of rape, revenge and general
debauchery, shirtless and wearing his trademark black hood, he resembles a
medieval executioner. T make the picture complete, all he needs is a
The resemblance apparently did not go unnoticed by Courtney Love, who met
El Duce in the late '80s through Hole's original drummer, Carolyn Rue (who
was going out with the Mentors' guitarist, Sickie Wifebeater). According
to El Duce, Love showed up at the Rock Shop, a Hollywood recordstore at
1644 Wilcox Avenue, a few days before New Year's Eve in 1993 at
approximately 8:30 PM. As El Duce waited outside for a friend, a limousine
transporting Love pulled up in front of the store. Love then allegedly
made El Duce an offer he couldn't refuse.
"El, I really needa big favor of you," she said. "My old man's been a real
asshole lately. I need you to blow his fucking head off."
"Are you serious?" El Duce asked.
"Yeah, I'll give you fifty thousand dollars to blow his fucking head off,"
"I'm serious if you are," El Duce said. "I wasn't really sure she was
serious. And then she said, `Where can I reach you?' At the time, I didn't
have a phone, but I got my messages at the Rock Shop, so I said, `You can
reach me here.'" She went into the store and he handed her a business
Karush Sepedjian, who manages the Rock Shop, recalls Love's visit this
way: "El was kicking it out on the bench in front of the store and she
came up. I overheard a little bit of it--I heard her saying, `Look, can
you handle doing this, can you get this done? What do you want for it?'
They were talking about knocking off Kurt Cobain. Then El brought her
inside and said to me, quietly, `She offered me fifty grand.' She took the
card and told me she would be calling me, looking for Ela few months down
In March, Love called the Rock Shop looking for El Duce. Sepedjian took
the call. "I said, `He's not around, he's on tour.' She was like,
`What?!!?' She was screaming. `That on of a bitch, we made an agreement!'
She was cursing, saying, `What am I gonna do?' I said, `I don't know, I've
got a business to run, you know? Good-bye.'"
Ten days later, Cobain's body was found. "I was like, `Whoa, I wonder if
she actually did pay some sucker to blow his head off!'" the gravel-voiced
El Duce ays. Sepedjian agrees: "Maybe she got somebody else."
"I think Kurt was getting ready to divorce her for adultery charges," El
Duce theorizes. "She had to have him whacked right away so she could get
Often--and understandably--accused of misogyny, the unabashedly puerile
Mentors--dummer/vocalist El Duce, bassist Dr. Heathen Scum and guitarist
Sickie Wifebeater--have been delightng their cultish cadre of followers
and offending everyone else since 1977. Authors of such controversial
songs as "On the Rag," "ClapTrap" and "Heterosexuals Have the Right to
Rock," the band has attained notoriety in underground music circles for
its bizarre live shows, which include go-go dance and various sex toys.
Perhaps their greatest claim to fame occurred in 1985, when Tipper Gore
quoted their song "Golden Showers" at a Congressional hearing during the
Parents Music Resource Center campaign against obscene lyrics. "Bend up
and smell my anal vapors,' Tipper quoted El Duce, "Your face will be my
El Duce may just be trying to cash in on the Cobain-death controversy: His
side-project band is suitably named Courtney Killed Kurt.
DEADHEAD DADDY DEAREST
Hank Harrison, Courtney Love's father, doesn't get much respect. Generally
portrayed by the media as Love's deadbeat dad, Harrison wants to set the
record straight about his life with her.
While most accounts contend Harrison has had little contact with Courtney
after his marriage to her mother, Linda Carroll, broke up when she was
five years old, he tells a different story. "I was with her from the day
she was born until the time she was six, either every weekend or every
day," he explains from somewhere in Northern California. "Then they went
to Oregon and she was adopted out from under me. I didn't have any contact
with her until she was fifteen, when I got her out of juvenile hall and
she came to live with me. I had complete custody ofher until she was
Courtney had been sent to live in juvenile hall (reform school) for
shoplifting. Harrison believes that's where she picked up a particularly
bad habit. "Juvenile hall taught her how to snitch," he says. "It took me
a long time to figure out where she learned to snitch. She got extra
favors in juvie by turning people in. She snitched me off a couple of
times to the cops for having grass in the house."
Love's words about her father are equally unkind. She claims that she was
conceived on a date rape, and was given LSD and beaten by her father. "I
don't want this man near me ever,' she told the San Francisco Chronicle
last May. Harrison--who went to the College of San Mateo with Phil Lesh
before Lesh cofounded the Grateful Dead, managed the group when they were
known as the Warlocks and has written two books about his experiences with
the band (The Dead Book and The Dead)--is constantly characterized by Love
someone who has forever milked his Grateful Dead affiliation. "He makes
his living as a parasite off the Grateful Dead," she said in the February
issue of Playboy. "He scams all these Deadheads who worship him because
they think he is close to the Dead."
"Phil changed her diapers!" Harrison responds, incredulous to Courtney's
barbs. "Jerry's first baby, Heather, and Courtney used to play together.
It hurts me so much that she doesn't realize how lucky she was to be one
of the chosen children of that scene. Sure, I make a living off the Dead.
There's a demand for the books. What does she want me to do, let my books
go out of print?"
Despite these jabs at her dad, Courtney has been known to flaunt her
Grateful Dead credentials. The Playboy article reported that Lesh is her
godfather (true), and she has often stated that she is pictured on the
back of the Dead's Aoxomoxoa album (false) and attended Woodstock when she
was five (also false).
Harrison's next book, Beyond Nirvana: The Legacy of Kurt Cobain, won't do
much to patch up the feud between father and daughter. In it, he charges
her with complicity in the death of her husband. "She profited from his
death in a considerable way," he says. "I know for a fact that he was
trying to divorce her and she didn't want the divorce, so she had him
killed or knew it was going to happen. The timing was of the essence.
There is no doubt in my mind that Kurt Cobain was murdered."
Harrison, who never met his rock-star son-in-law and has yet to meet his
grand daughter, Frances Bean, knew something was wrong the minute he heard
Cobain was dead. "I suspected some foul play," he says.
Richard Le, who hosts a public-access TV show in Seattle called "Kurt
Cobain Was Murdered," was the first to publicly reach the same conclusion
--at Cobain did not commit suicide. Harrison read Lee's postings on the
Internet and called him up. Lee "didn't have anything substantial,"
Harrison says, "but when I got a hold of [private investigator] Tom Grant,
I started thinking, 'Oh, man, do I feel good.' Now I know that sounds
weird, but I felt good for myself, because I wasn't psychotic anymore. I
wasn't imagining things. I wasn't alone. I wasn't the only guy in the
world that thought that some foul play was going on."
Regardless of the bad blood between Harrison and Love, he says, "It was
horribly disappointing to find out that Grant thought my own daughter did
it. It took me about six months of phone calls and talks and letters to
Grant, and complete openness to Grant, before he'd even trust me
sufficiently to talk to me, because when he found out who I was he figured
I was pulling some kind of scam. He said, 'I know a lot about you, Hank.'
He let it be known that he had been checking me out. He couldn't believe
Courtney's own father would be on his side." (Harrison contends, "I never
hit Courtney or beat her or abused her or denied her anything. At no time
was Courtney ever given acid or anything like that.")
What evidence does Harrison have that Love was involved in Cobain's death?
First and foremost, he says, "Courtney has a dark side, a suppressed and
repressed dark side to her personality that is extraordinarily violent.
She tried to kill me twice, She's been extraordinarily violent with her
friends and was kicked out of every band she's been in for violent
outbursts. It's almost like she has multiple personalities. And one of
those personalities is really evil--really, really dark and sinister--more
so than you can imagine. I mean real sick. And I didn't make her that way.
I've had to deal with this most of my adult life, after I lost her, and
then when I got her back and found out how screwed up she was."
Love, who was born on July 9, 1964 in San Francisco, reunited with her
father in 1979 when he gained custody of her. Harrison had become a
technical writer at Lockheed and founded his own publishing imprint, The
Archives Press. He was living on a houseboat in Sausalito, CA. "She was
really impressed by the bohemian lifestyle," he recalls. "A lot of art, a
lot of books. She was cool, but she was only fifteen. As she got more and
more emancipated, she started to see me as not such a successful
character. She wanted to have a bigger father who could do her some good
in terms of her showbiz fantasy.
"When she was little--real, real little--she really wanted to be a big
star. I know a lot of girls say they want to be a movie star, but she
meant it. She'd just do a little dance for the party. Anybody who was in
the house, she'd do a dance for them. She'd always find some way to draw
attention to herself."
In 1980, Courtney moved to Ireland with her father, who took a two-year
sabbatical there. "She lived with me for five months until the winter
snows melted. As soon as spring came along, she went to Liverpool. She was
boy-crazy. She was ballin' cats, turnin' tricks. She would dance and get
money that way too. Every time I saw her, she had big bucks.She would
always have money and clothes." This was Love's new-wave period, when she
groupied around England with the likes of Julian Cope and Echo and the
Harrison returned to the Bay Area in 1982, followed shortly by Courtney.
He and his common-law wife, Katrina, bought a Victorian house in Menlo
Park, south of the city, where Courtney would frequently visit. "We were
her only stable, local Bay Area address," he says. "She was itinerant,
going from crash pad to crash pad, punk scene to punk scene, junkie pad to
junkie pad. She was living in 'the Vats'--the abandoned Hamm's brewery.
People used to go down inside the vats and get drunk on the fumes. She was
a 'vat rat' for a while."
A cyberpioneer at the dawn of the Silicon Valley microcomputer revolution,
Harrison took the job as editor of Doctor Dobb's Journal and would go on
to hold positions at InfoWorld and A Plus magazines. These accomplishments
did not impress Courtney. She decorated her room in the 1870 Victorian
with dozens of lit candles, lace and baby dolls, and replayed movies like
Frances, Birdy and Pretty in Pink. "She watched the Frances Farmer story
thirty-two times," Harrison says. "It worred me. I realized at that point
that Courtney was deeply troubled."
Courtney would spend the weekendsn San Francisco. One time she came back
"so spaced out that we had to sit on her and give her Valium," says her
father, who was a veteran of bringing people down from bad acid trips. His
diagnosis was that Courtney was on a highly dangerous mixture of heroin
and fentanyl. "This was really severe. She was screaming at me and really
freaking out. She was psycho."
By the time Courtney turned 20 in 1984, she had developed friendships with
Portland, Oregon musicians Jennifer Finch (L7) and Kat Bjellad (Babes In
Toyland). Together they formed Sugar Baby Doll before later splintering
into three different groups. She toured around the country, from Portland
to Minneapolis to Los Angeles to San Francisco. In L.A., Courtney
infiltrated the punk-rock scene: She was cast in two Alex Cox films, Sid
and Nancy and Straight to Hell, and married Leaving Trains' frontman
Falling James Morland. They lived together for eight months, then split up
one day after their wedding in 1989.
"I think the main problem was that I was on SST Records," Morland told
Nerve magazine in 1993. "She thought that was too small of a label for her
husband to be on. That wasn' very punk-rock of her, was it?" He said they
did not maintain a "cordial or friendly relationship."
Harrison had lost contact with his only daughter in 1987. The falling out,
he believes, was over heroin. "She called me on her birthday and wanted
money," he says. "I said, 'Why don't you fly up here? I'll get you a
ticket, we'll sit down and have a chat--or I'll fly down there and bring
you some money.' She said she needed the money wired to her right away.
She was strung out. I told her that heroin is not my thing and I don't
want to support her doing heroin. She promised that she would never talk
to me again and she would have me killed."
During the next six years--a period that saw Courtney start her own band,
Hole, meet Kurt Cobain, the meteoric rise of his band Nirvana, the
marriage of Kurt and Courtneyand the birth of their daughter--Harrison was
out of the picture. All he knew was what he read in magazines. Finally, he
saw Courtney again at a show featuring the Lemonheads, Fugazi and Hole in
San Francisco in the fall of 1993.
Harrison recalls: "I called first to make sure it was OK. She was happy to
see me, gave me big hugs. She said she didn't want me to talk to anybody,
she just wanted me to sit there, shut up and listen to he show. I had a
vodka and saw the show. I was impressed with the band. I was just blown
"The next day I met her at the hotel. Courtney was--and this I'm
absolutely sure of because I saw it with my own eyes--having an affair
with Evan Dando. He and Courtney were sleeping together in the same bed. I
figured Kurt must be pretty liberal, because she's on the road with Evan
Dando, and she's constantly smooching all over him. They were very, very
chummy. He came up to me and shook my hand. He had read one of my Dead
books! He said, 'Let's go to dinner. But Courtney yelled, 'No! Get out of
here!' She told him to go away.
"And then while we were in the room she called Kurt. She asked to speak to
Mr. Poup. That's how I found out what his secret name was. I never met
him, but I was in the room when she talked to him on the other end of the
line. That was the closest I ever got to Kurt."
Harrison ended this visit by asking Courtney if he could "come up [to
Seattle] and see the baby over Christmas." She wrote down two addresses
and phone numbers that turned out to be bogus. Harrison now believes the
only reason Love "trotted me around" was because she wanted her bodyguards
to "see who I was, so that I could be taken care of at some future date.
That's where she's at. She's way smarter than me. I've only got about a
130 IQ and a photographic memory, but I'm like a burned-out hippie kind of
guy. I don't have any real guile or bad karma. She's totally fucking
intellient. Like a surgeon or something. She thinks six or seven levels at
once, like her mother."
Hank Harrison has not had any contact with his now-infamous daughter since
then. But he's convinced she has been harassing him with "threats of
violence, hang-up calls and odd silences" on the phone." Last October, two
men tried to rough him up. "One guy started laying hands on me, pushing me
around," he says. "I let the dogs out of the car and the dogs chased them
and they ran off. I don't know if that had anything to do with Courtney or
not, but I've been told that Courtney has a contract on me."
Are these the deranged ramblings of a paranoid or the dead-on perceptions
of a truth-seeker?
"I am not trying to put my daughter in jail," Harrison expains. "It's just
that I found myself caught up in a web of bizarre events that affects my
life. It would be very much like your child came home with plans for an
atom bomb in his briefcase and you wanted to know where the fuck he got
them. My daughter came home with a dead husband and I want to know what
the fuck happened!"
Did Courtney Love conspire to kill Kurt Cobain?
"Absolutely," contends her 55-year-old father. "I think he was drugged and
killed by people that Courtney had no control over. They might have said,
'Look, we're going to kill the guy--you have to go along with it.' Either
they told Courtney about it, or Courtney knew about it and was in on it in
some way, and kept her mouth shut.
"She tore Kurt apart. Even though he was a big rock star, he couldn't make
his old lady happy. Nothing Kurt Cobain could do could make Courtney Love
happy. And so the guy got more and more and more depressed. If he did kill
himself, I know why!"
DREAM MACHINE WEAVER
No living American writer has influenced rock'n'roll songwriters more than
William Burroughs. Of stars who have paid homage to Burroughs, none made
as strong an impression on him as Kurt Cobain. It therefore came as a
surprise to the editors of HIGH TIMES when on December 17, 1994, the
magazine received a fax from a Seattle-based group, "Friends Understanding
Kurt," laying partial blame for Cobain's suicide on the master himself.
The gist of the charge was that in the last months of his life, Cobain
acquired a device called the Dream Machine, which had been created by
Burroughs' friend and collaborator Brion Gysin and popularized by
Burroughs. The Dream Machine, the group wrote, is "a dangerous trance-
inducing contraption," and there has been a "string of suicides associated
with the machine since the '60s." Furthermore, they claimed, it was "in
fact, the catalyst in Kurt's unbelievably tragic, untimely death. To this
day Courtney ponders whether the Dream Machine is really responsible for
Kurt's death...If Kurt had not come into contact with its manufacturer, he
would be with us today."
The Dream Machine consists of a cardboard cylinder with holes in it
attached to a record-player turntable, in the middle of which sits a 100-
watt light bulb. When the machine is turned on, the cylinder spins at 78
rpm. Subjects sit in front of he cylinder and close their eyes, and the
light reflects through the holes in the spinning cylinder on the eyelids.
The resulting flashes of light may, if the subjects are susceptible,
create a mild sensation akin to the effect of the simplest light show.
Aided by the inhalation of good pot and the sound of hot rock, the device
might create at best a mild dreamlike senstion, or at worst (unless you're
prone to epileptic seizures) an even milder headache. It's an adptation of
flicker technology, first seen with strobe lights and now packaged as
Broughs once said about the Dream Machine, "Subjects report dazzling
lights and unearthly brilliance and color... Elaborate geometric
constructions of incredible intricacy build up from multidimensional
mosaic into living fireballs like the mandalas of Eastern Mysticism or
resolve momentarily into apparently individual images and powerfully
dramatic scenes like brightly colored dreams."
Following up the same fax, SOMA, the San Francisco "journal of Left Coast
culture," founder Steve Newman, a representative of Friends Understanding
Kurt, who claimed Cobain had used the Dream Machine for "up to 72 hours at
a time." Newman said the core of FUK was himself, Love, Love's attorney
Celeste Mitchell and other friends of Cobain's, as well as various
peripheral members." Love, he explained, played more of a "low-key role."
HIGH TIMES' efforts to contact FUK were unsuccessful. Interview requests
made through Love's record company, Geffen, and publicity agency, PMK,
about this subject, were not answered. An attempt to acquire photos taken
during Cobain's visit to Burroughs' home in Lawrence, KS in 1993--that had
been given to Rosemary Carroll, Love's principal attorney--also didn't
merit a return call.
However, we did locate David Woodard, the San Francisco businessman who
manufactures and sells replicas of Gysin and Burroughs' Dream Machine for
$145. In an interview conducted by Victor Bockris for HIGH TIMES, Woodard
contended that Cobain called him as many as 20 times overa period of six
months during 1993 and 1994 to talk about his life and the Dream Machine.
"I got the sense that he was using it for long periods but 72 hours?
Woodard met Cobain at a party in Seattle in the summer of 1993. He prefers
not to detail the specifics of how and when Kurt bought the machine.
According to the fax, "Woodard honorably complied with Kurt's very sincere
wish, promptly and professionally shipping a freshly minted machine to
Madrone [Seattle]: The state of California does not prohibit the sale of
this fancy death machine to desperate young millionaires."
Sprisingly, Woodard admits that the Dream Machine may have compounded
Cobain's problems. "If anything," he says, "the Dream Machine helped him
to see that he was beginning to fall apart as a cultural figure. He felt
like Andy Warhol, Wagner and Satan rolled up into on. He was in a very
special place which invited timely suicide. It seemed like it was the
Does Woodard concede that the device he sold Cobain contributed to his
death? "I pictured the suicide as being informed by an inner voice which
was made audible through his experiencs with the Dream Machine," he
explains. "Yes, the Dream Machine played a part."
Perhaps Cobain knew what he was doing. Woodard leaves us with this image
of his 27-year-old disciple: Kurt's in a full-scale Dream Machine-induced
trance, his body hurtling from the glittering Manhattan skyline to a
panorama of snow capped Himayas. His turquoise eyes are wide open. He's
above the clouds now, contemplating the next stop on this magic carpet
ride. Suddenly, he blasts off into deep blue space.
The controversy over what effect a psychedelic light machine had on Kurt
Cobain during the last days of his life may be a smokescreen that plays
into the hands of those who would have us believe he took his life two
years ago. Tom Grant calls the fx a "cofusion tactic" and "a futile effort
to throw a blanket of deception over the truth." He clearly believes
Friends Understanding Kurt is Courtney Love.
Hopefully, this article will stimulate discussion and lead to more
revelations from those who really know what happend to Kurt Cobain and why
he is no longer with us.
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