30 Years Ago, The World Bid Farewell to Kurt Cobain—A New BBC Documentary Celebrates His Life

BBC documentary Kurt Cobain
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BBC documentary Kurt Cobain
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Photo Credit: Nicole Logan

The world lost Kurt Cobain 30 years ago today. BBC will celebrate his life, exploring the formation of Nirvana through rare archival footage in a new documentary.

Moments That Shook Music: Kurt Cobain’ will air on Saturday and is told exclusively through rare archival footage. The documentary is “a visceral account of the days that surrounded that tragic moment in 1994 when Cobain took his own life.”

Nirvana had achieved mainstream and global success, but the pressure of that weighed on Cobain. “Cobain was hailed as the voice of a generation and the effects of his passing were felt across the world—Bill Clinton […] even discussed whether he should give a national address,” the press release for the documentary reads.

“Now one of musical history’s most shocking stories will be told as never before, as footage captured by local fans in Seattle and raw material from news crews reporting at the time are woven together.”

The documentary features a reaction from the electrician who discovered Cobain’s body while on call to install a security system at his Seattle home. It also includes statement from the police at the scene—documenting the chaos and confusion in the moment. The film also includes footage of Courtney Love reading Cobain’s final letter to a crowd of thousands at a vigil in Seattle.

Cobain only released three albums during his lifetime—all during a five-year span. It includes the RIAA Diamond-certified Nevermind—which made him the face of grunge in the ‘90s. The rocker was born in Aberdeen, Washington in 1967. While in high school, he met Krist Novoselic and the pair started a band together. After several bandmate changes and iterations, the group landed on Nirvana.

Cobain played guitar and contributed vocals, Novoselic played bass, and Chad Channing played drums. Their debut album Bleach dropped in June 1989. Following that release, they brought in a new drummer—Dave Grohl. With that lineup, the band recorded Nevermind, which released in September 1991. The album has sold over 10 million units—becoming RIAA-certified Diamond just seven years later. In Utero was Nirvana’s third and final album, dropping September 1993.

In November 1993, Nirvana recorded an ‘MTV Unplugged’ session, with the performance airing in 1994. The guitar Cobain played during that concert sold at auction for $6 million in 2020—while the green cardigan sweater he wore sold in 2019 for $334,000.