(Welcome to the first installment in an intermittent series of blog posts about important, interesting, amusing, or outright random events that happened on… [drum roll]… this day in music history!)
On February 20, 1967, Kurt Donald Cobain was born in Aberdeen Washington. He would go on to be just about the most iconic and influential musician of his generation as the frontman of Nirvana, a band that rewrote the rules of popular music and became the face of both a musical genre and a generation.
Or perhaps I should say, of my generation. I was born in 1979, just at the tail end of Generation X. I came to age in the 1990s, which means that Nirvana was the soundtrack of my adolescence. In fact, Nevermind came out the day before my twelfth birthday. I didn’t buy it at the time, alas; I didn’t properly get into music until I was an adult. But when I did buy it, years after the fact, I found I knew every song already, in my bones, as though I’d been born with them. I knew I’d heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” of course; it was all but impossible to not have heard it. But it turned out I knew “Come as You Are” and “Lithium” and “In Bloom” and “Polly” too, even though I wasn’t quite sure from where. It’s still one of my favourite albums, clichéd as that may be. Bleach (their first album) and In Utero (their third) aren’t far behind.
Fame and success were the worst things that could’ve happened to Cobain, of course. I think most everyone knows the story: ill health, heroin, depression, suicide. But he made some magnificent music in his 27 years, didn’t he?
“Well, whatever. Nevermind.”
Also on February 20th:
1816: Premiere of Gioachino Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville
1877: Premiere of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake
1941: Born today, Canadian First Nations singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie
1959: Stage debut of 16-year old Jimi Hendrix at the Temple De Hirsch Sinai Synagogue in Seattle
1970: Release of the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band single “Instant Karma!” (We All Shine On)
1974: Release of Steely Dan’s third album, Pretzel Logic
1980: Death of AC/DC singer Bon Scott
1984: Release of The Smiths’ self-titled debut album
1988: Born today, Barbadian R&B singer Rihanna
2003: Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island kills 100 people during a performance by the band Great White
Blazej Szpakowicz likes music and enjoys writing about it. He can sometimes be found in the basement of CFBX building.