Over the weekend, I was perusing Netflix’s new releases when I came across an interesting documentary into the death of Kurt Cobain.
“Soaked in Bleach” is based primarily on a book called “Love & Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain” by Ian Halperin and Max Wallace. The two writers cast reasonable doubt on the idea that Cobain killed himself with a shotgun.
I enjoy a good conspiracy theory, but I’m not gullible. I watched “The Men Who Killed Kennedy” but it still seems likely that Lee Harvey Oswald did the shooting.
The simple truth is that Cobain was a heroin junkie who was diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder before he ever had a record deal. Still, this documentary makes a very compelling case against the idea that he shot himself the week of April 3-8, 1994.
Much of the evidence comes from the mouth of Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love, who was secretly recorded for many hours by a private investigator.
She clearly can be heard telling several lies and contradicting herself and openly discussing the possibility of telling lies to others.
How did these recordings come about?
Cobain was at a rehab center in Los Angeles at the start of April 1994. He left the center early and flew back to Seattle. An ex-boyfriend of Love was staying at the Cobain house (say what?) and chatted with Cobain on April 3. The friend called Love and told her about the chat.
Later that same day, Love called a private investigator, Tom Grant, about finding Cobain who supposedly hadn’t been seen since he left L.A.
Grant, a former deputy, thought Love wasn’t being honest with him, so he recorded all of their conversations in person and on the phone.
On tape, Love admits she called the cops and told them she was Kurt’s mom. She reported him missing, saying he had a shotgun and was suicidal.
Love also said Cobain’s stay in a Rome hospital was a suicide attempt because he took 60 pain pills. A doctor who treated Cobain said there was no evidence he took 60 pills. It looked to him like an accidental overdose, mixing recreational drugs with champagne.
While she was supposed to be distraught over Cobain’s disappearance, Love instead told Grant that she was considering faking a trip to rehab in order to gain publicity before her debut album with Hole was released. Then she suggested that she’d get more sympathy if she said she had a nervous breakdown because of Kurt’s disappearance.
On at least two occasions, Grant recommended staking out the couple’s home on Lake Washington Boulevard, but Love was adamant that no one watch the house. This seemed so unusual that Grant went to Seattle and broke into the house with Cobain’s friend Dylan looking for Cobain. They searched the bedroom and didn’t find the singer or any shotgun.
A couple of days later after the body was found, Love claimed to have found a letter from Kurt under her bedroom pillow. Grant told her that wasn’t possible because he and Dylan had been in that bedroom and torn the place apart, yet she refused to change her story.
Even without Grant’s recordings, the way the Seattle police department handled the investigation has drawn much criticism.
Retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, who was in charge at the time, said 20 years later that he believed that the case should be reopened because the cops never really investigated the case. Cobain was found with a shotgun, and Love said her husband was suicidal, so they didn’t look any further.
Among the evidence overlooked was that there were no fingerprints anywhere on the shotgun except for where his left hand was placed on the barrel. There were no fingerprints on the drug paraphrenalia or the spent shotgun shell.
Some have argued that suicide victims use their dominant hand to pull the trigger. Cobain, who was famously left-handed, reportedly used his right hand to fire the weapon.
One news report claimed to have leaked evidence that Cobain’s level of heroin in his blood was so incredibly high that he would have been comatose and unable to put his drugs away in a cigar box and then shoot himself.
The documentary has a lot more to say. While it doesn’t give any definitive proof of wrongdoing, the film does make for an entertaining hour and a half.
It’s a much better Netflix choice than say Ben Affleck’s Gigli.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.