Last year, Mike Ratherson had a debate/interview with Tom Grant on Alternative Nation to debunk many false Kurt Cobain murder conspiracy theories that have been pushed online over the years. Today is the 24th anniversary of Cobain’s death by suicide (though we’re publishing this early). Below is the article from last year, followed by the Top 10 Reasons Kurt Cobain Wasn’t Murdered, also written by Ratherson. To honor Kurt today, always call out bullshit you see online about him, and spread the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number to anybody who may be in need.
Tom Grant is a private investigator and former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detective who was hired by Courtney Love when Kurt Cobain left the Los Angeles drug rehabilitation center Exodus just days prior to his Cobain’s suicide death. Tom Grant has written several books about his conspiracy theories about Cobain being murdered. His investigations are featured in the 2015 documentary film Soaked in Bleach. Grant and I spoke by phone on the afternoon of May 2, 2017. After emailing Tom about an interview, he emailed me back saying that he was very busy. He told me could only speak to me in five minutes for a short time amount of time. I emailed him back that I had no questions prepared, but why not? Due to the short notice and lack of preparation time, the interview was not recorded. It was a memorable discussion though, and these are my recollections of my interview with Tom Grant.
First, I asked Tom where he received his much cited report on the 1.52mgs per liter of morphine level found in Kurt Cobain’s blood after his death. Tom said it was from the Seattle Police Department Case Investigation Report, which he emailed me just prior to our interview. (Writer’s note: On pg. 2 of the 5 page Seattle Police Report Tom had underlined the following passages, “Morphine level 1.52mg/L (milligrams per liter). Tom also underlined Dr. Richard Harruff’s opinion in the autopsy report that “… tolerance is extremely important when evaluating opiate levels. With tolerant individuals, very high levels can be achieved far more than a non-tolerant individual.” The police report also notes that Kurt’s mother, Wendy O’Connor, had read Kurt’s suicide note and “… it was her opinion that the victim [Kurt] wrote it.”)
I told Tom that there were Swiss studies and posts on Reddit regarding the Cobain murder conspiracy film Soaked in Bleach, in which heroin addicts in the Swiss studies were able to function on a daily basis, and Reddit users who claimed to have survived heroin overdoses without medical attention which were much higher than Kurt Cobain’s lethal heroin dose. Tom replied that he wasn’t familiar with the Swiss studies, but he had read some of the Reddit posts. Tom opined that those studies and Reddit posts were not relevant to Kurt’s case because every case is different. (Writer’s note: Tom Grant’s research states that Kurt had approximately 225 mgs of heroin in his system, “three times a lethal dose of heroin,” which would have killed him instantly. A 1999 Swiss study of hardcore heroin addicts found that many addicts could handle as much as 300mgs to 500mgs per day, and in one extraordinary case 2g (2,000mgs) of heroin per day and remain functional.)
I asked Tom if it was possible, due to multiple needle puncture marks in Kurt’s arms, that the 1.52mg/L morphine level in Kurt’s bloodstream could have been the result of multiple shots of heroin over many hours or even days that had not been metabolized. I also asked Tom if it was possible that the heroin level in Kurt’s blood was not from one shot, but was the result of multiple shots. He responded that heroin metabolizes very quickly and that no matter how Kurt had gotten 1.52mg/L morphine in his blood he would have been killed by that amount and unable to pull the shotgun trigger.
I then asked Tom if he thought any of Kurt’s lyrics about suicide, specifically “Look on the bright side, suicide” from the song “Milk It”, were autobiographical. Tom said he did not think Kurt’s lyrics were autobiographical at all. He said comically that most country and western singers would be dead if their lyrics were autobiographical.
Tom asked me if I knew that Kurt’s uncles had not committed suicide by gunshots to the head. Tom said that these stories were invented by Courtney Love and not true. He said that one of Kurt’s uncles had died falling down stairs and another relative had accidentally dropped his gun at a bar causing it to misfire and he died. I told Tom that I had read that two of Kurt’s great-uncles had in fact committed suicide by pistol shots to the head. Tom disputed this and again said Courtney was the source of the misinformation. (Writer’s notes: Charles R. Cross’ 2002 book Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain states that Kurt’s great-uncles, brothers Burle and Kenneth Cobain, both committed suicide by pistol shots to the head and additionally Burle shot himself in the stomach in 1979 and 1984 respectively. In the “Author Notes” section of Heavier Than Heaven a 1999 interview with Beverly Cobain, Kurt’s second cousin, is mentioned in both chapters which refer to Burle and Kenneth Cobain’s suicides by gunshot among over a dozen other interviewees–Courtney Love was not interviewed for those chapters. In a 1999 nirvanaclub.com interview Beverly Cobain, an accredited psychiatric/mental health nurse, said believes that “depression has a genetic component, and, so, tends to run in families” and that “the Cobains are only one of millions of families on whom depression and suicidal behaviors have had a terrible impact.” When Beverly was asked in a 2016 Health Day interview about Kurt’s suicide in context to the Cobain family she replied, “The first two suicides were also Cobain males, my father’s brothers, [Kurt’s great-uncles] both with guns.”)
Then I asked Tom if he thought it was unusual that there are multiple photos on the Internet taken by several different photographers which show Kurt with guns in his mouth simulating the manner in which he died. Tom focused solely on the one photo shoot in which Kurt had an assault rifle in his mouth. He said many media outlets cropped Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic out of that band photo for dramatic effect. Tom said he thought Kurt clearly put the gun in his mouth jokingly and that Dave and Krist were smiling in the photo which proved that to him. He went on to say that Courtney Love was present at that photo shoot and was telling Kurt what to do.
I asked Tom what he thought about Kurt’s best friend Dylan Carlson’s anti-murder conspiracy statement in the 1998 documentary film Kurt and Courtney, in which Dylan said, “If I seriously thought Kurt had been murdered, the people, if I thought Courtney was involved … They would be dead now, flat out. I would kill them if I thought that was the case.” Tom responded that Dylan was being manipulated by Courtney at the time. He claimed that Courtney was funding Dylan’s heroin habit, so he would say whatever Courtney wanted him to say to support his drug habit. As evidence Tom cited an incident where Courtney coached Dylan on what to say behind closed doors right before Tom personally interviewed Dylan after Kurt’s death. Tom also said that when Kurt returned to Seattle after what many regard was Kurt’s first suicide attempt in Rome, Italy on March 3, 1994, Dylan told Kurt that Rome was just an accidental overdose and he was doing fine.
I told Tom that I had seen a video clip in which he stated that if Kurt and Courtney divorced she would get at best half of his estate, but if she killed him she would get his entire estate. At this point I distinctly remember asking Tom if he really thought that Courtney Love was so ruthless that she would orchestrate Kurt’s murder and leave their daughter fatherless just for more money. Instead of answering yes or no, Tom ask me how much I though Kurt Cobain was worth. I replied that I though Kurt was maybe worth $10 million back then (in 1994) and $500 million now. Tom did not dispute my guess. He said that nobody knew back then how much Kurt Cobain’s estate would be worth including Courtney. He stated that as a former police investigator and private detective he knew that hundreds of married people kill each other every day over money. Tom also alleged that Courtney had spent hundreds of millions of dollars from the Cobain estate since inheriting Kurt’s money, including Frances Bean Cobain’s trust fund.
I asked Tom if Courtney paid him in full for his services. He replied that she did, and he told her they were square. Tom also told her that he was going to continue his investigation.
Tom Grant has continued his investigation of Kurt Cobain’s death for 23 years and shows no signs of ever stopping.
This article was written by Mike Ratherson and originally was published on Alternative Nation in April 2014. Read the new version with photos below.
1. None of Kurt’s bandmates or close relatives, including his daughter and mother, believe that he was murdered.
2. Kurt’s great-uncles, brothers Burle and Kenneth Cobain, both committed suicide by self-inflicted gunshots to the head with Burle also shootingt himself in the stomach in 1979 and 1984 respectively. Kurt allegedly told an eighth grade friend, Rod Marsh, that he had “suicide genes” citing Burle’s and other relatives suicides. (Source: Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain, By Charles R. Cross.)
3. Kurt made a Super-8 film as a teenager which depicts him violently cutting and stabbing himself with a knife. Kurt was photographed several times pointing guns at his head and also into his mouth in the same manner as his suicide. Although at the time the film and photos may have been meant to be comical or irreverent, they are hauntingly eerie in retrospect.
4. Kurt reportedly told eighth grade friend John Fields while walking home from school, “I’m going to be a superstar musician, kill myself, and go out in a flame of glory … I want to be rich and famous and kill myself like Jimi Hendrix.” At the time Kurt believed Hendrix’ death was a suicide. (Source: Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain, By Charles R. Cross)
5. Kurt wrote in his posthumously published 2002 book Journals (also depicted a scene in the film 2015 film Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck) that he once tried to commit suicide as a teen by laying on train tracks only to have the train come down the wrong tracks next to him.
6. Kurt Cobain’s lyrics were full of direct and veiled references to suicide:
Song: “I Hate Myself and Want To Die” – the name of a Nirvana song, the original title for the album “In Utero”, and Kurt shocked his bandmates by showing up to a show wearing a custom made T-Shirt with this phrase on it.
Song: “Milk It”
“Look on the bright side, suicide.”
Song: “Scentless Apprentice”
“I lie in the soil and fertilize mushrooms.
Leaking out gas fumes are made into perfume.
You can’t fire me because I quit!
Throw me in the fire and I won’t throw a fit.”
Song: “You Know You’re Right”
Lyrics (the song is loaded with a veiled suicide references):
“I would never bother you.
Never speak a word again.
I will crawl away for good…
Always knew it would come to this…
You Know You’re Right.”
7. Nirvana MTV Unplugged, Nov. 18, 1993. To me this was Kurt’s planned epitaph 5 months before his death:
Cobain suggested that the stage be decorated with stargazer lilies, black candles, and a crystal chandelier. Cobain’s request prompted the show’s producer to ask him, “You mean like a funeral?”, to which the singer replied, “Exactly. Like a funeral.”
Five of the six songs cover songs during Nirvana’s MTV ‘Unplugged’ performance have lyrics that reference death. (Source: Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain, By Charles R. Cross)
Some Common Kurt Cobain Murder Arguments & Rebuttals:
8. “If Kurt had taken a lethal heroin overdose he would not be able to pull the trigger.”
Heroin addicts have increasingly high drug tolerances. Even a so-called “lethal dose of heroin” would not necessarily have necessarily killed Kurt Cobain, a longtime addict with a reportedly high tolerance level.
A 1999 Swiss study where heroin addicts were allowed to take as much heroin as they wanted found that many individuals were able to function daily while taking 300 to 500 mgs of heroin per day. In one extraordinary case a man was able to function on 2gs per day. According to Cobain murder conspiracy theorist Tom Grant, Kurt had 225 mgs of heroin in his body the day he died or 1.52/mgs per liter of morphine in his blood according to his autopsy in the Seattle Police Report. Grant theorizes that this level is “three times a lethal dose of heroin” was was well below the level of severe but functioning accidents according to the Swiss study. If Kurt could function at well below the level of the heroin addicts tested in the Swiss study he would not have been “instantly killed” by that dose and would be able to function and pull a shotgun trigger.
9. ‘There was hardly any blood. If Kurt shot himself in his head there would have been more blood.’
Kurt shot himself using a bird-shot shotgun round into his mouth. George W. Bush’s then-Vice President Dick Cheney shot his hunting buddy with a bird-shot round which is considered light shotgun round. If fired into a person’s head through their mouth, a bird-shot round would probably kill them but would not necessarily penetrate through the back of their skull. This would explain why there was so little blood found at the scene and why the security installation technician who discovered Kurt said he looked like he was sleeping
10. “Courtney Love hired someone to murder Kurt Cobain because they were going to get a divorce.”
Just hours after performing on Saturday Night Live on January 11, 1992, one week before ‘Nevermind’ hit number one on the charts, Kurt reportedly overdosed on drugs. Courtney Love allegedly found him at 7:00 am the next morning lying on the floor overdosed. She said she revived him by splashing water on his face and punching him in the stomach.
In July 1993, Kurt was scheduled to perform at the New Music Seminar in New York City. Prior to the show, Kurt allegedly shot up too much heroin which resulted in an accidental overdose. Courtney Love said she injected Kurt with Narcan and then punched him in the chest which resuscitated Kurt who went on to perform later that night as if nothing had happened.
On March 3, 1994, one month before Cobain’s death Courtney love said Kurt overdosed on 50 Rohypnol tablets and champagne in Rome, Italy and allegedly wrote a suicide note. Courtney discovered him blue and overdosed, called an ambulance and Kurt was rushed to the hospital where he eventually recovered from a coma. Although Nirvana’s management company called the incident an accidental overdose, after Kurt’s death Courtney called it a suicide attempt. Tom Grant has theorized that Love slipped her own Rohypnol tablets into Kurt’s champagne in an attempt to murder him.
Grant theorizes that after Kurt’s death Courtney made up that the Rome overdose was a suicide attempt. However there is no doubt that Kurt overdosed on something in Rome and that Courtney saved his life by calling an ambulance which rushed him to a hospital and saved his life. Kurt was in a coma for many hours before he regained consciousness. If Courtney wanted Kurt dead why didn’t he just let him overdose and die in Rome? Why did she save her husband’s life who Grant alleges she allegedly wanted dead?
Although I don’t believe Courtney was a stabilizing influence on Kurt’s life or I also don’t believe he was a stabilizing force in her’s. I also don’t believe that Country had any motive or need to have him killed. Even if they divorced she would still be set for life financially. Grant has alleged that Kurt was threatening to write Courtney out of his will. The problem with that theory is Kurt left no legal will at the time of his death. Also you can’t legally just write your current spouse out of your will. According to a 2013 CNBC article, “Any lawyer will tell you that the spouse can waive the will and receive whatever he or she is entitled to under state law.” Why would Courtney want to have Kurt murdered and leave their daughter fatherless a month after she had the opportunity to let him die in Rome but instead chose to saved his life?
Cobain murder conspiracy believers deny that a severe heroin addict, who flirted with death every time he shot heroin, would be capable of killing himself. They love Kurt and hate Courtney, so obviously it’s easier to blame her for Kurt’s death. Kurt has been painted by people like Tom Grant as a happy, easily controlled person who was unwittingly murdered by his greedy wife who wanted all of his money. The 1998 film Kurt and Courtney gave rise to many Cobain murder conspiracy theories. But even the filmmaker Nick Bloomfield does not believe that Kurt was murdered. In the film, Kurt’s best friend, Dylan Carlson, who bought him the suicide shotgun with Kurt’s money said, “If I seriously thought Kurt had been murdered, the people, if I thought Courtney was involved … They would be dead now, flat out. I would kill them if I thought that was the case.”
If Kurt’s bandmates and closest family members who knew him best don’t believe he was murdered why do so many of Kurt’s fans feel a need to blame Courtney for his murder? There were warning signs that Kurt was depressed and suicidal in his music, in his statements to childhood friends and in interviews with reporters. Anyone who uses heroin is basically flirting with death. Kurt’s flirtation with death finally ended tragically on April 5, 1994. I believe the shocking manner of his death was a conscious decision on Kurt’s part because he had attempted to commit suicide by overdose numerous times unsuccessfully. With the shotgun he ensured that no one would be able to revive him.
Kurt Cobain and Nirvana changed the course of rock music. Nirvana popularized a new style of rock music in the early 90s than laid to waste much of the hair metal bands that had dominated the music charts in the late 80s. Even though I didn’t know him, at the time of Kurt death it felt like I had lost a friend. I have read four biographical books about Kurt Cobain. Kurt has been dead for over 23 years. If the people who personally loved him and knew him best believe he committed suicide I see no reason to dispute that.
It’s unfortunate that many people who only knew Kurt through his music and video clips, many of whom were not even born when he died, choose to spend much of their lives filled with anger because that feel that he was murdered. These people were not personally affected by his death the way his bandmates, close family and friends were. I will always love Nirvana’s music but find it hard to listen to Nirvana without being reminded of Kurt’s tragic death. Kurt called himself a “death rocker” in his suicide note. I think Kurt always had a death wish and it eventually just caught up with him. In Nirvana’s final song Kurt wrote, “Always knew it would come to this … Pain … You know you’re right.” My interpretation of these lyrics are that Kurt always knew he would commit suicide from an early age. His chronic stomach pain and addictions made him believe that suicide was unfortunately his only way out. Let Kurt Cobain rest in peace. His music will live on forever.