Born on this day in Hoquiam, Washington, talented left-handed guitarist/singer Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), along with his garage band Nirvana, created the "grunge" Rock and Roll sound of the early 90s. With raw voice and heavy guitar, Cobain captured pain, sold millions of records, and self-destructed.
As South African writer Alan Paton said about such destruction, "The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again."
Cobain's happy childhood shattered with his parents' divorce. "I had a really good childhood," Cobain once said, "until I was nine, then a classic case of divorce really affected me."
The energetic, creative child evolved into an angry young man who dropped out of high school in 1985, lived on the streets, and began playing in rock bands. He formed Nirvana, signed with an independent record label, and by 1991, Nevermind had become the #1 selling album of the year.
Cobain's raw, desperate persona struck a nerve with fans. He used amplified metallic riffs to announce his angst. Too sensitive, too jaded, he sought numbness with heroine. He tried drug-rehab.
"I chose to do drugs," he admitted. "I don't feel sorry for myself at all, but have nothing good to say about them. They are a total waste of time."
With a note requesting "Peace, Love, Empathy," Cobain blew away his life.
The awful tragedy energized others. His cousin Bev Cobain, a mental health nurse, wrote When Nothing Matters Anymore: A Survival Guide for Depressed Teens (1998).
"Kurt was depressed for a long, long time... Most depressed adults first develop depression in their teens," she explained to CNN. "His death was the impetus for me to work harder and in different ways, and to focus on youth."
"Everyone asks me about Kurt," she added. "I tell them that he chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem."
"Don't just let somebody die because you think there's nothing you can do about it. You can save lives. If anyone hints that they might be contemplating suicide, your job is to believe them. "
With every tragedy comes the seeds of goodness.