Bethan Williams
Kurt Cobain
Publisher Title Transcript
Ablaze! #10 Yet More Nirvana! Yes

By the end of last year, self-styled ‘Redneck Situationists’ Nirvana had achieved a popularity and notoriety few would have predicted for them just 18 months before. Drug addiction, celebrity weddings and even preposterous accounts as premature demise have always been the staple diet of tabloid newspapers, but Nirvana presented us with a youth phenomenon the liberal British music press need have little fear of. Kurt’s pronouncements against racism, and particularly homophobia, lent an air of sanity and intelligence to the excesses of Nirvana in '92. The ‘Will they? / Won't they?’ rumours circulating during the three days of last year's Reading Festival, not allayed until they took the stage, added just the right amount of intrigue. But what about the head of this careering grunge machine? What was on Kurt Cobain's mind the hour before what was being described by the optimistic as Nirvana's last ever British show? Bethan Williams knows, she was backstage in Nirvana's trailer with him…

Ideas on the conceptualization of the notion of the scene

“Courtney and I will attend the premiere of Singles in sequined dresses. Matt Dillon trying to be a grunge star? All these people dressed in trendy clothes acting like Pearl Jam, havin' a good time, fallin' in 'n' out of love - it looks ridiculous and I don't want any part of it.”


“Yeah, slow-brain. Cos it rhymes with my last name.”

Political graffiti

“It's one of the best forms of art. We used to go around our neighborhood and spray paint “HOMOSEX RULES” on the side of vans. If you write “QUEER” on a redneck’s 4X4 truck, it's pretty much the most effective word you can use to offend him. It really affects his manhood.”

Kurt’s first guitar

“My mom was recently married, this was like 6 years ago. She married this redneck guy, and he had sex with this girl one night. My mum found out about it and she took all my dad's guns and threw them in the river. I hired this kid to fish a few out and I sold them. I got my first guitar with the money. It was star-shaped, the kind Cheap Trick played”

Kurt's doomed guitars

“I went away on tour and I put my two new guitars in the shower, because I thought if somebody broke into my house they wouldn't look in the shower for valuables… While I was gone our neighbours had a leak in the pipes and all this mucus sludge soaked into my guitars.”

New man in rock shock

“I think everyone is aware of the fact that we hate racism, sexism and homophobia, but I don't think we're articulate enough to really challenge or get into political debates with people - I don't think we could call it art. Now we've found ourselves entertaining not only ourselves, but other people, and that's a lot more fun, that's more important.”

Any last words…

“Can we play now?”

Within minutes Kurt is wheeled on stage in a wheelchair, resplendent in a blonde wig, and fifty thousand people breathe a sigh of relief and forget about the mud, the rain, the food prices and toilets for a whole ninety minutes. The show that most people had wanted to see, and what seemed like everybody had stayed to say they had seen, took place without further incident.

© Bethan Williams, 1992