What if Kurt Cobain had not died in 1994? It’s impossible to know exactly what would have happened. This is more of an open-ended question with unlimited possibilities. While we will never know what would have happened we do know a few things that probably never would have.
Where would the ‘Foo Fighters’ be?
Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl formed the Foo Fighters in 1994 after Cobain’s death. It began as a side project and soon blossomed into one of the most popular rock bands of the 21st Century. To think the Foo Fighters would have never come to be is unlikely.
Let’s assume Nirvana eventually would break up. Grohl is such a fixture in the music industry that he would have worked on a new project at some point, which would have evolved into something at least similar to the Foo Fighters. However, the timing is an important factor here. Forming three years later than they did would have influenced the band in a completely different way. Plus with Cobain still alive, Grohl may have felt a different type of inspiration to continue with his music.
Would ‘Hole’ have ever become popular?
Cobain’s wife Courtney Love was the lead singer of the band Hole in the 1990s and technically still is when she feels up to making music. Never nearly as big as Nirvana, the band still managed to build a strong following. Some people have questioned if Hole benefited from Cobain’s death. Even the television show Family Guy has made a joke about it.
There’s something far more interesting to a band led by the controversial widow of a famous musician than just the wife of one. In a world where Cobain had not died, Hole would be looked at far differently. Whether embraced more or hated would have all depended on how Cobain and Love’s relationship went as is still the case in our reality.
What else would have changed in music?
Tributes to deceased musicians are nothing new; Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ being one of the most well-known. In Cobain’s case, several songs and lyrics have been attributed to him. Fellow Seattle grunge band Soundgarden had a big hit with Black Hole Sun, which includes the line “No one sings like you anymore.” Many believe this is Chris Cornell expressing his personal pain due to Cobain’s passing.
An odd and often overlooked fact about Cobain’s death is that it occurred on April 5th. What makes this strange is that another fellow Seattle singer with a similar struggle with drugs, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, died on the same day in 2002. Because of how much more popular Cobain was, Staley’s death is often a footnote by comparison. If Cobain had survived, Staley may have been a bigger legend instead of just “the other guy.”
Where would music be?
There are an endless number of bands influenced by Cobain. Imagine though, a world where Cobain could have further developed his style. Even from Bleach to Nirvana: Unplugged we hear the evolution of a musician.
On that same note, he may have just ended up as someone whose better days were in the past like so many other musicians. However the fact that Pearl Jam has stuck together, Soundgarden has reunited, and the only thing that put Alice in Chains on hold was Staley’s death means Nirvana might have still been able to put on a show in 2014 complete with new music for us to all critique as “not as good as the old stuff.”
Unfortunately all of this will never happen as Cobain burned out instead of fading away.