Aberdeen is finally getting ready to honor its native son.
This past Wednesday, the city’s mayor, Bill Simpson, proclaimed Thursday, February 20, as Kurt Cobain Day, “in recognition of his artistic achievements,” in the words of the official proclamation. “Aberdeen residents may justifiably take pride in the role our community played in the life of Kurt Cobain and the international recognition our community has gained from its connections with Kurt Cobain and his artistic achievements.”
It would have been Cobain’s 47th birthday. Nirvana’s lead singer and creative force committed suicide at his Seattle home on April 5, 1994.
Twenty years on, Nirvana’s legacy continues to be celebrated. At this year’s Grammy awards, Nirvana’s surviving members, bassist Krist Novoselic, who also lived in Aberdeen, drummer Dave Grohl, and touring guitarist Pat Smear won the Best Rock Song award for “Cut Me Some Slack,” which also featured former Beatle Paul McCartney. And on April 10, Nirvana will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Aberdeen’s relationship with Cobain has been uneasy over the years. Cobain mockingly described his hometown as “‘Twin Peaks’ without the excitement.” And discomfort over Cobain’s admitted drug use meant it took over 10 years for the city to make any kind of acknowledgment of Nirvana’s accomplishments. In 2005, after an article in the Aberdeen “Daily World” by three local teens asking why there was no Cobain memorial anywhere in the city, the “Welcome to Aberdeen” sign was augmented with a second sign reading “Come As You Are,” the title of a song on Nirvana’s breakthrough album “Nevermind.”
Earlier this year, the neighboring town of Hoquiam had declared April 10 would be celebrated as “Nirvana Day.” Aberdeen’s Mayor Simpson then stepped to the plate, announcing there would be also be a celebration in Aberdeen. Details of the event were made public this week.
The main festivities will be held at the Aberdeen Museum of History, when a Cobain statue by local artist Randi Hubbard will be unveiled, followed by a performance by Aberdeen hard rock band Gebular. The band also plans to give an autographed guitar away in tribute to Cobain. “I would like to see it go to a kid that needs a nicer guitar,” the band’s guitarist, “Dogger” Darko, explained. “I know how it is growing up playing a cheap instrument.”
You can expect to hear some Nirvana number’s in the band’s set. “We have yet to discuss what Nirvana songs we will cover,” said Darko. “But we love to perform ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ and ‘In Bloom.’ We’re all huge Nirvana fans and this will be an honor.”
Also planning to attend is Warren Mason, Cobain’s guitar teacher, as well as Aaron Burckhard, Nirvana’s first drummer. The band’s first rehearsals were held in Aberdeen, although they never played an official show there. Burckhard, currently drumming for the band Under Sin, has attended other Nirvana-related events in Aberdeen over the years.
The Aberdeen Timberland Public Library is also currently hosting a display with Nirvana-related memorabilia. And a commemorative rock concert is being planned at Aberdeen’s South Shore Mall on February 22. Interested bands should contact Donna Albert at 360-280-9413.
Mayor Simpson told the “Daily World” that his decision to host a Kurt Cobain Day had attracted some “notoriety.” But as he learned more about Cobain, Simpson said he came to regard him as “very serious, a sincere person.”
Kurt Cobain Day
5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Aberdeen Museum of History Wednesday, 111 E. 3rd St., Aberdeen; free (360-533-1976).