Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain would have been 47 years old Thursday, and for the first time his hometown of Aberdeen is officially celebrating its most famous resident with the first-annual Kurt Cobain Day.
As you drive into town, the sign says “Come as You Are” in honor of one of Nirvana’s biggest hits. But the welcome sign wasn’t added until 2005, 11 years after Kurt took his own life. It’s taken another nine years for the town to finally give Kurt Cobain the official recognition mayor Bill Simpson says should have come much sooner.
“One of the things that I stress is that we are not celebrating his drugs or the facts that he may have killed himself, [but] the fact of what he did for music.”
Simpson says he’s taken plenty of heat from people who criticize Cobain, given his troubled history and the fact he often derided his hometown.
“I keep saying over and over again we’re celebrating his music, not the fact that he was a druggie,” says Simpson.
Twenty years after his death, Cobain continues to draw fans from all over the world to Aberdeen, searching for any connection.
Simpson says he’s counted visitors from 28 different countries and 32 states looking to see notorious sites and memorabilia from Cobain and Nirvana.
“In fact, I just left the museum today and there was a couple from El Salvador who came here to see the Kurt Cobain [memorabilia],” says Simpson.
Festivities for the commemoration include the unveiling of a new Cobain statue by local artist Randi Hubbard, a tribute concert and continuing display of Nirvana-related memorabilia at the local library.
The mayor says he’s spent the last few months getting to know a lot more about Cobain the artist and musician, and has come away impressed.
“I think he’s a very deep thinker, a very artistic individual and that’s what makes me happy to see that he is notarized for that and not the facts of the other things that went on in his life.”
And if he has his way, Aberdeen will be doing a lot more to continue to embrace its most famous son.