Though Kurt Cobain hasn't really left the public consciousness since his 1994 suicide, he's been curiously prominent this April through a strange confluence of rumors and actual news — including reports of possible unreleased solo material and newly surfaced rare images and videos. Here are six reasons people are paying attention:
1. The 18th anniversary of his death
"It's hard to believe that 18 years has passed since Kurt Cobain's death," says Crystal Bell at The Huffington Post. His inability to cope with his success and its accompanying pressures is a still-jarring reminder that fame comes at a price. In honor of the 18th anniversary of Cobain's death on April 5, websites posted the singer's greatest performances, retrospectives about his legacy, and fan tributes.
2. Rare photos were exhibited
To commemorate the anniversary, New York's Morrison Hotel Gallery displayed a series of photos of Cobain taken by famed photographer Jesse Frohman in the months before the grunge icon's suicide. In the series of never-released portraits, a bearded Cobain wears Jackie O. sunglasses and a leopard-print coat, flirting with androgyny. "He looks alternately thoughtful and goofy," says Judy Berman at Flavorpill. "But never anguished." See some of the photos here.
3. There could be unreleased solo material
Former guitarist Eric Erlandson, who co-founded the band Hole with Cobain's wife Courtney Love and has written a new book called Letters to Kurt, caused waves when he claimed that Cobain recorded a solo album before his death. Erlandson, who was reportedly close to Cobain, says the rocker let him listen to the album. The songs, he maintains, are so good that it would been Cobain's White Album, a reference to The Beatles' "magnum opus." Still, Erlandson provided no information on who owns these tracks now, or whether they will ever be released. The news is tantalizing, says Nicholas Jones at Tone Deaf, "but it leaves us with not much to go on."
4. He could return as a hologram
Over 15 years after being gunned down, Tupac Shakur returned to the stage as an astonishing hologram at the Coachella music festival earlier this month. The visual effects team behind the impressive illusion revealed that the same technology could be used to create new live performances by other dead music icons. One member of the team fantasized about bringing Cobain to life with such a projection. The Nirvana frontman also topped a fan poll asking which late singers should receive the treatment.
5. The duet with Courtney Love
The upcoming documentary Hit So Hard features vintage footage of Cobain and Love duetting on a never released song called "Stinking of You." The bootleg footage from the documentary, which hit the internet earlier this week, spliced footage of the couple singing with video of them playing with their daughter Frances Bean. It's fascinating to see the notoriously combative duo interact as a "normal, affectionate, doting couple," says Amos Barshad at Grantland. The footage is pretty raw and unpolished, says Lyndsey Parker at Yahoo. But it's "unexpectedly sweet."
6. The "Smells Like Teen Spirit" casting call
The flyer that Cobain and his Nirvana bandmates handed out at the L.A. hotspot The Roxy in 1991 to recruit extras for their "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video also resurfaced this month. The casting call asks for 18-25 year olds, encouraging them to adopt a "high school persona, i.e. preppy punk, nerd, jock… " So many showed up that hundreds were turned away, says Laura Stampler at Business Insider. Apparently, it was Cobain's idea to have the extras, who'd been sitting on bleachers over the course of the long shoot, form a mosh pit that became the video's final scene. "Once the kids came out dancing they just said 'fuck you,' because they were so tired of this shit throughout the day," Cobain once said. See the casting call here.