Wait a second… Kurt Cobain is dead?!
In case you haven’t heard the news, Kurt Cobain shot himself. 17 years ago. And in a final insult to Cobain’s badly misconstrued message, the media is still profiting off him.
Everyone is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Nevermind with unreleased recordings, interviews and “How Nevermind Changed Everything” articles. What’s really ironic about this, is that the album received a mild response from the critics back in 1991. Rolling Stone, for example, gave it three stars (it has since been “upgraded” to five).
It’s clear in the musical world that time (and absence) makes the heart grow fonder. Roger Daltrey knew this when he sang “I hope I die before I get old.” Because in this business, when you get old, you become irrelevant. Musicians like Cobain, Lennon, Hendrix and the whole 27 Club don’t have to face the challenges of being rockers as middle-age approaches. We can forever remember them as their young, rebellious, energetic selves.
Who knows what would have happened if Cobain had lived into his 40s and beyond. But would anyone want to listen to a middle-aged man singing about “teen spirit”? Chances are, most of these guys would have ended up like Mick Jagger, clinging onto youth with wrinkled, arthritic fingers.
My question is how influential were these artists before they died? I wasn’t alive/old enough to be aware of the before and after effects of Lennon, Hendrix, Cobain or even Garcia’s deaths. I did witness the Amy Winehouse saga, though. Winehouse makes me wonder if any of these musicians were even on anyone’s radar before they died. Winehouse was a notable musician, but she was never really at the forefront of the music industry. Until she died. She solidified her place in our memories, and history will inevitably be rewritten to show how “influential” she was before she died.
So what would the history books say about the 27 Club if they had, instead, been the 65 or 70 Club? Would we be so eager to praise them if they had slowly faded into obscurity? Would their names come up at every opportunity and would their faces continue to grace covers of industry rags?
Well when is the last time you saw B.B. King or Chuck Berry on the cover of Rolling Stone? I guess we’ll have to wait until they die…