RtL#38: Dalton’s Take On Head to Head Controversial Musical Moment 1


Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl vs. Death of Euronymous

Why Euronymous is less controversial

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This is admittedly a very difficult argument to make. The Satanist death/black metal rockers are inherently controversial, with their death threats, arsons, suicides, and murders to boot. But…perhaps it is the culture they are associated with that makes this far less controversial than the Cobain and Grohl debate. Basically, we expect such behavior from those as pathologically committed to their “evil” craft (the band members of Mayhem’s own proud descriptive term, not mine).

The definition of controversy is “a prolonged public dispute or debate”. There is nothing too terribly compelling to argue about when two death/black metal rockers get into a grudge match and one ends up dead. Sure, you have the horrific event of the murder itself, but that’s something that shows up on the evening news, vaporizes into an evanescent catalyst for death-metal music for a few years and eventually fades into nothing. It hardly compares to the massive cult following of Kurt Cobain that has followed since his passing in 1994.

A far more interesting subplot of Euronymous was the supposed suicide of fellow band member Per “Dead” Ohlin (these nicknames are awesome) years before Euronymous’ eventual murder. Euronymous supposedly came upon his dead “friend” with slit wrists and a shotgun wound to the head. He then staged things around the body and took photos before calling the police. Given the well-known disputes between the two band members, it is surprising that this was not further investigated. But I suppose this is no more controversial than the happenings around Kurt Cobain’s demise.

Why Cobain/Grohl is more controversial

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When Cobain was found dead by his or someone else’s hands, three things were berthed from the aftermath: 1. A massive conspiracy over the happenings of his death. 2. A massive cult following attached to his image, music, and any scrap of writing he left behind. 3. The band Foo Fighters was formed from Nirvana’s (Cobain’s band) old drummer, Dave Grohl.

Now, most would point at the controversy of Cobain’s death, but much like the murder of Euronymous, such controversy fades over time. What is far more controversial is what was gained/lost by the fading of Nirvana and the berth of Foo Fighters in the passing of Cobain.

Grohl has become one of the most respected musicians of the past several decades and one of the most beloved celebrities with his grounded personality and caring approach to fans.  Where Cobain has been survived via angsty isolation and depression ballads, Grohl has gone to make a difference through not only his music, but his inspiring, almost idealistic personality and lifestyle. He’s a loving father, a humble individual, and as entertaining a celebrity as we’ve had consistently since the early 90’s.

So, because of his successes as a musician and a “humanitarian” of sorts, the question follows him in his shadow. What would it be like had Cobain on passed away? We likely wouldn’t have had the Foo for at least a decade, given the meteoric success of Nirvana. Grohl has been noted as saying that he didn’t write or sing for Nirvana because “Cobain was better”. Is it true? Was Cobain better? And even, if so, was his message better than the one we have received from Grohl? Would Cobain have delivered a similar approach to life if given a longer opportunity in the spotlight? Instead of answers we are left to balance back and forth on the scales.

In the wake of one brilliant artist’s death, we have the privilege of witnessing another brilliant artist’s talent. But it’s hard to take that privilege without admitting the weight it carries with it. Which makes even the brightest moments of Grohl’s career, and all the smiles he has dished out, have a somber aftertaste when you consider that there was an inadvertent price paid for the experience. And that is why the Cobain and Grohl controversy has carried more weight for years longer than not only Cobain’s mysterious death, but the murder of Euronymous as well.

-Dalton

Please make sure to always get both sides of the discussion by check out our other contributors take on this Roll the List.

Ryan’s Take


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