It's been 18 years since legendary Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain committed suicide at age 27, but his legion of passionate fans may soon get to hear new music from the grunge rock visionary. In an interview with the music network Fuse TV, Eric Erlandson, who, along with Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, was a founding member of the band Hole, revealed that Cobain was working on a solo album at the time of his death. If this rumor is really true, will the songs ever be released? Is Erlandson even a trustworthy source? Here, a brief guide:
Who exactly is Eric Erlandson?
Erlandson is the guitarist for Hole, the band behind hits like "Doll Parts" and "Celebrity Skin." The group was closely tied to Nirvana in the '90s thanks to the tumultuous relationship and marriage between Cobain and Hole front woman Courtney Love. Erlandson says he and Cobain were close friends, and that at one point he was basically Cobain's "assigned handler/babysitter," says Billboard. Now he's promoting a new book, out April 18, titled Letters to Kurt; it's a series of poems and essays inspired by their conversations about music, fame, and mortality.
How does he know Cobain recorded an album?
Erlandson says that Cobain let him listen to the album, which would've been Cobain's first solo effort. It would have been "his White Album," says Erlandson, referring to the Beatles' "magnum opus." He also says the sound was different from his work with Nirvana. "That's why I was really sad when he died," Erlandson says. "He was cut short. Who knows where this music would have gone?" Erlandson also hints that one of the solo tracks is a cover of a well-known song — though he won't reveal what that song is. "I just hope that one day it will be released for fans."
Why is this such a big deal?
Ever since Cobain's death, those closest to the star have maintained that he left behind little or no unreleased material, says Nicholas Jones at Tone Deaf. But Nirvana's last album, In Utero, was released seven months before Cobain's suicide, and "fans of the enigmatic songwriter have always had a hard time believing that Cobain" didn't write or record any new material in that time. The release of a whole new album "would be a major event."
Would it be the first new Cobain material since his death?
Several Nirvana songs recorded with Cobain before his death have been released as parts of various best-of albums and box sets, says Jordan Zakarin at The Hollywood Reporter. But none of the work on this alleged album has seen the light of the day.
Will the solo record ever come out?
Erlandson is hopeful, but not positive. "I heard some talk about somebody putting together some raw, rough acoustic thing." But since Erlandson does not own the demos — nor does he say who does — all he can do is hope that it happens. "If nobody ever hears those songs, except for like three people, then... that's the way it goes." Erlandson's revelation is "tantalizing, but it leaves us with not much to go on," says Young. Without knowing who owns the rights to the songs, this news is just a tease... if it's even true at all.