Being the hugely influential sludgy forefathers to the grunge movement, fans of Nirvana and Soundgarden have a lot to thank Buzz Osborne and the Melvins for.
In a new interview with Mojo (via Alternative Nation), however, Osborne reveals that he can’t look fondly on his legacy as a musician, because he can’t help but feel partly responsible for Kurt Cobain’s eventual death.
“It’s very difficult to think about Nirvana without it being a very tragic memory for me,” he reveals. “If I helped create what was going on with all that stuff – Nirvana getting involved in those sort of things – I also helped create his death.
“That is not something I take lightly. I would much rather have him unsuccessful and alive.”
The frontman, then, would rather his music hadn’t helped to spawn such a huge and improbably successful movement like grunge, if it meant that Cobain would have never become a global star, and ultimately taken his own life.
It’s also not clear if “those sort of things” is referring to anything in particular here, but one could easily assume.
While it’s an emotional reaction rather than a logical one, with two of grunge’s biggest icons in Cobain and now Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell having both died from suicide, it must be tough to have been one of the progenitors of their enormous success, only to see it end the way it did.
Osborne has previously spoken out about Cobain on several occasions, slamming the recent Montage Of Heck documentary as being “90% false”, and accusing Courtney Love and others of manipulating Cobain’s legacy after his death.
“None of that’s true,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a good legacy for him to have out there … I know it’s not true. It’s that simple.”
“If they want to take her (Courtney Love’s) word for things, then go ahead,” he added. “Do you feel better? Then everything she says is the golden rule. Absolutely. That’s got to be honest, no problem. That’s fine by me. If that makes them feel better, it’s fine by me.”
“That’s just Buzz,” Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic told Rolling Stone soon after, throwing his support behind the documentary. “He’s always been like that, but we love him so we just accept him for that.
“He’s always had these opinions. Like, ‘Oh, there goes Buzz again.’ You never know what he’s gonna say, but he means well, and he’s a great musician. He’s been a dear friend for a long time. That’s the way it is.”
The new Mojo feature, thankfully, includes some happier memories, with U.S. songwriter Norman Blake remembering some of Nirvana’s lighter moments – including a similarity between their greatest hit and another iconic riff.
“Kurt really gave it everything,” Blake remembers. “I have memories of Krist chucking his bass up in the air. The chaos at the end – you didn’t know what was going to happen next.
“I remember they played the riff to Boston’s ‘More Than a Feeling’ before going into ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’,” he adds (the similarity something that had struck Billy Corgan from the first moment he heard the riff).
“That was the thing that people forgot about Nirvana,” Blake adds, “there was a lot of humor in what they were doing. Kurt was an angsty guy, but he could be a fun guy as well. Doing that showed they weren’t taking things too seriously.”
For Buzz Osborne, though, that legacy has been completely overshadowed.