Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In Memoriam: Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley

Kurt Cobain (inks on bristol / 2011)
Grunge music will always have a lasting memory and place in my spirit.  I grew up listening to Alice and Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and the rest of the Seattle movement of the early 90's which harnessed the angst and deep emotional turmoil of a lost generation.  For a brief five or six years, these bands made records which are timeless to me and a lot of the people I grew up with.  It was a very brief glimmer of a rebellious, anti-corporate movement which dampened with the death of legend Kurt Cobain on today's date in 1994 at the age of 27.  A few years past the end of the grunge fever, downward-spiraling Alice in Chains front man Layne Staley succumbed to his addictions on the same date, April 5th- eight years later in 2002.

Layne Staley (inks on bristol / 2008)

My memories of hearing about the death of both of these icons will always break my heart.  Two musicians who moved and spoke to an entire generation and turned a local sound into a world-wide phenomenon died young and without a friend close enough to stop their demise.  Both bodies were discovered some time after their deaths (Cobain's three days and Staley's two weeks.)  I'll leave the commentary once again today to Joebot over at Rock Star Martyr, who is borrowing my portrait of Layne Staley from my 2009 Cult of Personality series as well as this new portrait finished this week of Kurt Cobain. 



Here's a couple of shots of the process of creating my Kurt Cobain portrait with the shotgun shell halo...


55 comments:

  1. Awesome new piece. When Layne died, I couldn't stop listening to Mad Season and crying. I wonder what their sounds would have been like now had they have lived.

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  2. Great work, but a Halo of Shotgun Shells? Poor Taste.

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    1. Totally agree....don't like the shotgun shells at all.

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    2. I appreciate the feedback Scast. Some people have called them sick and some have called them genius. One of the beauties of art lies within interpretation.

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    3. I like it. It shows the truth.... ~evoc~

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    4. he was actually murdered!
      the truth will prevail when cuntney is on her death bed!

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  3. Great artwork. Just stumbled on your site. Layne and Kurt (and now Mike Starr) will surely be missed. Alice and Nirvana were the biggest of the grunge bands for me. They had the most edge to them...and still do.

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  4. Please take the work in context with the articles of Rock Star Martyr for which it was drawn for. The articles take on the circumstances under which musicians died and therefor, such elements are incorporated into the work. Of course, this is open to your own interpretation if you do find it in poor taste.

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  5. I don't care for the shotgun shells but I think expression is important. Kurt saved my life. He was a genius and I believe he is still in our hearts. I loved him. Thanks for sharing these. peace.

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  6. ...actually the shotgun shells are most appropriate; as anyone who actually knew Kurt can attest to, he had been talking about suicide for about as many years as he had been in his 'circle of black'. His death came as no surprise to those of us that knew him.

    I NEVER liked Kurt myself and shed no tears at his loss, but Layne on the other hand was a total sweetheart; he was a REALLY nice guy who was warm and caring and reached out to those around him. I enjoyed every second of time I spent with him.

    As for your caricatures, I'm not feelin' it...but hey...art is art and we all like different things.

    There are two 'Seattle' musicians that are rapidly rising in fame that you should keep an eye on: Reggie Watts and KJ Sawka...

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    1. Reggie Watts... the crazy multi-tasking musician/comedian that Conan has on all the time? Yeah... he's really talented. Couldn't do all that at the same time... it's like a modern day musician with the accordian, harmonica, bass drum, etc. all strapped onto him like the old Looney Tunes cartoons.

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  7. Both musicians gave me solace through their various projects and lent me a proverbial shoulder to lean into during some dark times in my youth. I hold nothing but the highest admiration for their music and lyrics and will always mourn their passing.

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  8. Addictions and depression at the hands of the artistically gifted. Celebrate their gifts to express themselves, but not their solutions to the inner angst. I can only speak to Cobain's musical talent which was very deep. However, I would gladly trade a mundane existence to the shattering reality of torture that he must have experienced to put a shotgun to his head. Love music, art and romance. Life, Life, Live and LOVE!

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  9. cuzzin_mikoApril 05, 2011

    i'm certain that kurt would appreciate this remarkable sketch you created of him in memorium. he was as punk rock as they come. the shotgun shells are symbolic of his true persona. he will always be my hero

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  10. I think about Kurt quite often, mostly due to the fact that one of our local radio stations (KROQ) keeps his and Layne's music blissfully alive and well years after their initial powerful impact. I understand Kurt's need to stop the pain of living. Few but those who experience depression's insidious, unrelenting grasp comprehend the urgent need to quiet it in the most effective manner, no matter how violent. 17 years after his release, I've only now come to terms with why a shotgun. There's almost no way to fail, is there? Yes, drugs and alcohol fueled his dark cloud, but I know those, too were attempts to numb the turmoil of mental anguish. I love you, Kurt, and always will. Rest in peace beautiful soul. Rest in peace.

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  11. They were both found dead on my birthday, April 8. So I always think of them at that time. It reminds me to live my life well.

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  12. The shotgun shell halo is in poor taste and I love it. Keep it right up, sir.

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  13. Same here BaltimoreGal. It reminds me to get completely wasted... Happy birthday to us :D

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  14. I think the shot gun shells make it awesome! Duh. It makes sense. If he hadn't shot him self he wouldn't be such a giant icon to OUR generation... it's much like the icons of Christ and Mary. I remember exactly where I was and who I was with when we heard Layne had died. JJ just went in his room, shut the door and turned on some Alice and Chains. Jason and I just looked at each other, and said I can't believe I'll never hear him sing again. Thanks for sharing bro, good work as well. Kurt is a great piece!

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  15. Thanks Mel. I think Dan came home that day and told me about Layne when we were sharing an apartment. We listened to Mad Season... which is already a haunting album. "Hey young man, you've got to wake up- Slow suicide's no way to go." The thing we kept dwelling on was how such a well known and influential person's body could lie unnoticed for two weeks. Death makes saints of us all.

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  16. Chase MelvinApril 11, 2011

    Your art poetically captures a moment from Cobain and Staley's lives, a well done tribute to two very talented people.

    I credit Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and so many similar bands for giving me the courage to be comfortable writing music which encompasses all my emotions, not just the pleasant ones.

    How do you feel about AIC's newest album "Black Gives Way to Blue"?

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  17. Thanks for commenting Chase... I really appreciate the kind words. I did check out "Black Gives Way to Blue." It's not a bad album by any means but I just couldn't get into the new songs knowing it wasn't Layne I guess. It just made me wonder what they'd be like today with the original lineup. I am happy for the band that they could move on and do what they love. Cantrell's solo album was pretty damn good. I believe the new singer for AIC was his backup singer who sang Layne's parts when he did his solo tours.

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  18. One day Nirvana had changed all my life) I've heard them for the first time in the summer of 1994...accidentally... Kurt was already dead. what a malicious twist of fate...but everything that happened during next 17 years is the result of this accident.

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  19. I've listened to both Unplugged albums (from Nirvana and Alice in Chains) recently since this post. It's haunting how close to their deaths they both performed and the pain that came across in their voices. Not just the singing but the distant and humbled conversation between songs.

    "Down in a Hole" with Layne and "All Apologies" for Kurt really gave me gooseflesh. Which songs stuck out in your mind?

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  20. Excellent post!!I love nirvana! very good this post!! I hope you visist us again in groovesbox... playlist and recommendations are very interesting!!!

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  21. http://groovesbox.com/rock-en-espanol/heavy-rock/25-its-an-honor-to-get-this-playlist-out-there-for-a-rock-legend-like-nirvana.html "In honor of a legend, Nirvana Playlist"

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  22. Thanks for the returned comments Sebastian! Rock on brother...

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  23. My brother died of leukemia in 1980. He was 19. My father died of cancer in 1998. I have beaten cancer since 2002. Kurt you selfish bastard. You left behind Francis other family and fans who needed you because you put yourself out there. Help was offered to you and you chose drugs and depression. You make me sick, you are NOT MISSED!!!! The only good thing from this is Dave and The Foo Fighters. I hope you rot in hell for eternity and feel every burn and pain from it. Francis needs a father now. You make me sick to the core! Rot junkie rot

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  24. i grew up listening to nirvana.i became a heroin addict for 15 years because i was influinced by kurt very heavily growing up.i started playing the guitar at 13 because of nirvana.i still play today and can play every nirvana song perfectly.i use to and still do watch old footage of kurt and afterwards i have to remind myself not to do heroin.that i am me and he was him.i even looked like him in school and dressed liked him.i had girlfriends in school only because of that at times.it is a shame what happened to him.but what a lot of people dont take into consideration is that courtney love is a sociospath.the reason why everybody thought he was suicidal is because courtney played you.and very very well.she manipulated the press and started spreading rumors that he was suicidal.does anybody know about the roam thing?what she did? how they found a date rape drug in his system that he didnt know how it got there.that was suppose to be it.that day in roam he was suppose to die.wine and a cocktail of alchol and pills and this drug that is suppose to kill you mixed with everything else.is habiit was to intense to die.so was mine i shouldnt be typing this to you.i have done so many cocktails and lived.i just recently did what heath ledger did and im still here.go to, justice for kurt/investigation/ some other shit but when you start to type that in the rest will come up for you.there is so much solid evadince linking her to his death.real evadince.not some funky shit like hes still alive.stop being so easly manipulated people. and stop believing everything you see on tv.and stop think that just because u see something on tv it has to be true. if you care this much to post comments then you should care enough to sort of do your own investigation.just look at the evidence.its in your face.everytime someone gets clost to her through this her lawyers shut them down.

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    1. People dont care that much eso especially anymore... thats what it seems anyway & its sad

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  25. Nirvana was the first band I ever got into... and they're still my favorite. My first listen was Smells Like Teen Spirit on MTV at my grandmother's house. My parents were too poor for MTV. Anyway, I see all this smoke and a dude with blond hair screaming like I'd never heard before. Let just say I was instantly mesmorized.

    As soon as we drove back home, I begged my mother to take me to Wal-mart to by the Nevermind cassette tape. This all happened when I was 10 years old and I still remember it like yesterday. It kills me that I never got to see them live, even when I begged my mother to take me to the 93' New Years Show in Oakland. Nirvana will always be my favorite band. Actually, my favorite bands are the ones in the Grunge movement. I'm blessed to have seen Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, STP, Mudhoney and a Temple of the Dog reunion at PJ20. RIP Kurt and Layne. Miss you everyday

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  26. Kurt Cobain was murdered
    3 times the lethal 225 mgs dose of heroin
    No Legible Prints On The Shotgun!
    A SECRET SECOND NOTE?
    the list goes on....
    no evidence of suicide except for Kurt's mouth. (We all have been there)
    All evidence points to Murder with a capital M

    reopen the case!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  27. A bit opportunistic of you, don't you think?

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  28. If you mean I took the opportunity to pay homage to two of my favorite lyricists and musicians, then yes. The Kurt Cobain is for an ongoing series with RockStarMartyr.net where articles are published on the death anniversaries of a variety of musicians.

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  29. nyc stuff
    Kurt is prolly jammin with jimi up der
    Kurt and Nirvana still rule

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  30. Nirvana was nothing but corporate rock band with one grunge song ..smells like ...and unoriginal David Bowie early years rip off..

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  31. Layne Staley one of the greatest in rock history. Gotta respect the fact that he lasted as long as he did and didnt take the easy way out. Unlike some people.

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  32. kurt tenia una boca mucho mas pequeña, ojos muuuuuuy grandes en proporción a èsta, y un menton diferente

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  33. nice. I love Kurt. I don't know... The fact that he shut himself makes me wanna live more, because I think that he have dona a BIG mistake.
    You're a great artist. Thanks for link.
    I'll follow you. Definitely.

    xx

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    1. Thanks for the comment Jessie... I like your sentiment. We've lost too many of the great creatives young, so every last day of creativity is a blessed one here on Earth.

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  34. Thank you for sharing your Kurt experience on my blog. I was introduced to Nirvana at an early age by my older cousin and I just remember it changing my life. Kurt continues to inspire me everyday.

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  35. Awesome blog. Love Kurt. Please check out & 'like' my rock radio shows facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Prophets-Of-Rock-Fresh-Air-radio/258726977512101

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  36. good stuff

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  37. Kurt's music made me poop.

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    1. I'M THE SCAT MAAAAAAAAAN!

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  38. AnonymousJune 28, 2012

    as an artist my self , ya have all my respect this is wonderfull.I remember when I first listened to Cobain it was like I've been reborn , it's sad that he died.....even more sad that he died on my b-day , but hey , life goes on , we'll always have his and other rock stars' legacy <3

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  39. ThAt Curt CobAin thAng is hilArious.
    Most of his shot gun shells are scAttered at his feet.
    They need to enforce it thAt people need to pick up their spent shells when tArget prActicing for hours upon hours on public lAnds.
    I do AppreciAte the fAct he keeps his bicycle brAkes in good working order.He's pretty good At doing broddies.

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  40. I like the new track the surviving members of nirvaba made with paul mccartney. Awesome treck.

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  41. Of course i meant NIRVANA and awesome TRACK!

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  42. I first watched Smells Like Teen Spirit on MTV Europe (yes, they did play music videos back then)and I remember clearly that I was thinking, "Wait, what is this mess?". Yet I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I got the album shortly after and I was flabbergasted with the simple yet rocking melodies in it.

    It got me thinking, rock music was back to common people. See, I grew up with the likes of Guns 'n Roses, Metallica, etc; you know, big performance, big solos. They placed themselves as gods among men.

    Nirvana was totally different. It was within your reach. If they can express themselves, so do we. Yes, us, the wannabes with a guitar. Seattle sound, for me, was the realization that music is by the people, for the people.

    I was at their second to last concert in Switzerland, and I still remember how Kurt was in front of me. He seemed sad, but when he played, he was a whole different person. The music was flowing from his body, I shit you not.

    Then few weeks after, he shot himself. As the circle must be closed, I saw that on MTV again, while playing NBA Jam in a local arcade. I stopped playing immediately and put In Utero cassette (remember that?) in my walkman (it was an Aiwa, they don't even have that brand anymore). I played Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, the song with which they opened the concert. "I love you for what I am not", he sang.

    Few years later, my mom died from cancer.

    I guess you know which line I sang all time whenever I have a guitar on me at the time.

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  43. Yes. Poor taste with the shotgun shells. Not artistic at all. I once auditioned for a band that made like 5 life size photos of Kurt Cobain with a gun in his mouth all over their apartment. Yikes to you obsessed creeps.

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  44. Greetings from Ireland. I like the shotgun shells. Nice touch. Keep up the good work!

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  45. I dig the haloshells it gave me a giggle. Not everyone takes to something like this. I was a HUGE nirvana fan as a kid wouod get pissed if someone poked fun at his death. I now am a adult & also a recovering attic (5yrs whoo hoo lol) & have had a ridiculous amount of friends & family die so I always try to make light of it. Ive seen a few of your pieces & I dig your style & humor. Keep that shit up bro ;)

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