This month marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's final studio album, and fans aren't just able to buy a new "super deluxe" box set to celebrate the occasion. They also can buy the childhood home of late frontman Kurt Cobain, complete with his mattress.
Cobain's mother, Wendy O'Connor, is putting the tired, 1.5-story bungalow two hours southwest of Seattle on the market this week.
To help sell the house, the family is offering a glimpse into the early life of its tortured and talented son through photos taken there, including one of a chocolate-frosted birthday cake for Kurt and a shot of a teenage Cobain smiling, guitar in hand, in his messy room.
The home, last assessed at less than $67,000, is being listed for $500,000. It's a short walk from a riverfront park dedicated to Cobain's memory, and the family said it would welcome a partnership to make the home into a museum. Kurt's room still has the band names (Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin) he reportedly stenciled on the walls, as well as the holes he put in them. (See a photo here.)
"We've decided to sell the home to create a legacy for Kurt, and yes, there are some mixed feelings since we have all loved the home and it carries so many great memories," Cobain's sister, Kim Cobain, said in an e-mailed statement. "But our family has moved on from Washington, and (we) feel it's time to let go of the home."
The 1923 structure with dingy carpeting, water-stained wooden shingles on some interior walls and a recent coat of yellow paint is on East 1st Street in Aberdeen, a gritty and struggling former timber town at the mouth of the Chehalis River near the southwest Washington coast. Kurt's parents bought it in 1969, when he was 2. He lived there until they separated when he was 9, and again with his mom during his later teen years.
The heroin-addicted Cobain committed suicide in Seattle in 1994, at age 27, after a meteoric career that popularized the Pacific Northwest's heavy, muddy "grunge" rock. The last of Nirvana's three studio albums, In Utero, came out in September 1993, and Universal Music Group has released a remastered version and a "super deluxe" box set.
Cobain described his early childhood in Aberdeen as happy. As Charles R. Cross noted in his Cobain biography, Heavier Than Heaven, Kurt would ride his bike around the small yard and pound on a set of Mickey Mouse drums his parents bought him.
In one event that entered family lore, Cobain's father, Don, trapped a rat in a garbage can in the garage. He tried to spear it with a broomstick, but the rodent clambered up the handle, over Don's shoulder to the ground and across Kurt's toes to safety -- prompting endless laughter from the 5-year-old.
But his parents' divorce scarred Kurt deeply. At one point, he scrawled "I hate Mom, I hate Dad" on his bedroom wall, Cross wrote.
"It's a place where he had very fond memories, but it's the house where his parents got divorced," Cross said in an interview. "He couldn't wait to get away, but it's a place that helped shape who he became."
A family friend last lived in the home four years ago. According to the Agency, the Beverly Hills, Calif.–based luxury real estate firm marketing the property, it features the dining room table and hutch from when Cobain was there. Cobain's mattress is tucked away in a musty upstairs crawl space.
Cobain lived in about 20 houses in his life, Cross said, and this isn't the first one offered for sale based on its connection to rock history.
In 2002, an Oregon couple bought a home in nearby Montesano for $42,500. When they learned that Cobain had lived there with his father from age 11 to 15, they sold it for $210,000.