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Home » Books » Biography » Composers & Musicians

Heavier Than Heaven

The Biography of Kurt Cobain

By Charles R. Cross

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Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Other Information: 2 x 8pp b/w plate sections
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 June 2002
Alongside the death of Elvis Presley and the assassination of John Lennon, Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994 ranks as one of the generational milestones of American life - an epochal event in both rock 'n' roll and youth culture. This book is the story of Kurt Cobain's life, from abject poverty to unbelievable wealth, power and fame. It traces the journey from his humble origins in Aberdeen to becoming lead singer of Nirvana, the most popular rock band in the world from 1991 to 1994, and the most influential band of this decade. The beautifully written text is complimented by 16 pages of photographs. Based on over one hundred interviews, Charley Cross allows us to understand Kurt Cobain's personality. This is an incredible tale of a strange, tortured and very talented man.

Promotional Information

The definitive biography of Kurt Cobain.

About the Author

Charley Cross has lived in Seattle for many years, is the former editor for the "Rocket" and writes for "Rolling Stone" and "Esquire".


"I'm going to be a superstar musician, kill myself, and go out in a flame of glory." So spoke 14-year-old Kurt Cobain, who could not possibly have anticipated how prophetic his statement would become. Cobain, as leader of the band Nirvana, almost single-handedly wrestled alternative rock into the mainstream via the group's massive 1991 album, Nevermind. Three years later, Cobain rebelled against the phenomenal fame he had ambitiously sought and, physically and psychologically decimated by heroin addiction and a mysterious stomach ailment, fatally shot himself at age 27. Former editor of Seattle's influential music magazine the Rocket, Cross followed the Nirvana juggernaut from the beginning, and though he nearly bludgeons the reader with tales of Cobain's debauched excesses, one is still drawn to the artist's forceful personality. Cross transcends Christopher Sandford's 1995 Cobain biography, Kurt Cobain (Carroll & Graf, 1996) by conducting over 400 interviews and gaining access not only to the singer's widow, Courtney Love, but also to the musician's private journals, which provide fascinating insights into Cobain's troubled mind. The sordid details of Cobain's addiction and suicide and Cross's occasionally over-the-top dramatics are sometimes more than the reader can stomach, but ultimately this is a carefully crafted and compelling tragedy that serves as a necessary foil to Michael Azerrad's authorized Nirvana biography, Come As You Are (Doubleday, 1993). Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

'Superbly researched and harrowing...The squalor is ghastly but the sheer sadness of Cobain's brief life is beautifully conveyed here. Cross has painstakingly accumulated a wealth of telling detail' -- Robert Sandall, Sunday Times 'Cross's research is impeccable...HEAVIER THAN HEAVEN is, or should be, the last word on Kurt Cobain.' -- Lynn Barber, Daily Telegraph 'I was very glad to read this biography, the result of four years' research and 400 interviews, not to mention the sainted Kurt's police and medical records AND his unpublished journals. I was in hog heaven all the way through - in a caring, wistful way, of course.' -- Julie Burchill, Guardian 'Wins immediate entry into the rock lit pantheon. Five stars' -- Q Magazine 'Cross's portrayal of a shy but prodigiously gifted child, in artistic as well as musical terms, is a joy to read' -- Observer 'The secret here is that Cross was allowed unprecedented access to Cobain's world; his diaries, artworks and most significantly the people who surrounded him. Cross may vividly depict the seemingly inevitable demise of a rock star but he also successfully conveys just what all the fuss was about in the first place.' -- The List

"And there had never quite been a rock star like Kurt Cobain," Cross eulogizes in this celebrity biography. Unfortunately, Cross, former editor of the Rocket, a Northwestern music and entertainment weekly, never proves his claim. Instead, Cobain's story, culled from more than 400 interviews with friends, family and colleagues and exclusive access to Cobain's unpublished diaries, sounds wholly ordinary, from boilerplate adolescent bitterness about his parents' divorce ("I hate Mom, I hate Dad. Dad hates Mom, Mom hates Dad. It simply makes you want to be so sad") and malt liquor, punk rock-adorned angst to the tawdry details of his drug addiction. "Even in this early stage of his career, Kurt had already begun the process of retelling his own story in a manner that formed a separate self," writes Cross as he carefully dispels some of Cobain's self-made myths, including claims of living under a bridge, "tales... about his constant abuse at the hands of Aberdeen's rednecks" and harboring an aversion to fame. The many unenlightening observations are often painted thick with sensationalism; other times, Cross trawls the bottom for sources whose credibility and relevance are dubious at best. (For instance, he interviews Cobain's drug-addicted ex-babysitter, Cali, and some of her girlfriends, yielding a depressing she-said-he-said of Kurt's final days.) Conspiracy theorists will speculate about the conditions under which Cross gained access to Cobain's private journals. Complete with gossip and meticulous references, the biography will catch the devotees, though, like junk food, it may leave them feeling unnourished. 16 pages b&w photos. (Aug. 15) Forecast: Released on the 10th anniversary of Come As You Are and with radio giveaways, this book will sell well. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

EAN: 9780340739396
ISBN: 0340739398
Publisher: Sceptre
Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.1 x 2.7 centimetres (0.22 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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Lisa Omelvena on
An interesting an in depth biography on Nirvana's front man, Kurt Cobain. Tells of his life, his struggles and the world he had been trapped in since he was an 8 year old boy. Written in a way that you could almost picture yourself there with him, or in his shoes, this book is a good read for any fan. Retells everything up to the supposed last steps of this famous rock star.

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