Despite the huge attention following the suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in 1994, sources close to the star have always maintained that there was very little unreleased material.
They did find some at one point, releasing it as part of Nirvana’s With The Lights Out box set in 2004, which included rough studio recordings and the previously unreleased acoustic demo of Nirvana’s last recorded track ‘You Know You’re Right’.
But that was it, or so we’ve been told up until now. Fans of the enigmatic songwriter have always had a hard time believing that Cobain wouldn’t have been writing and recording new material in the months leading up to his death.
After all, Nirvana’s last album In Utero was released back in September 1993, a whole seven months before Cobain ended his life with a shotgun to his head on April 5, 1994.
Of course, he was pretty messed up over this time, especially in the last few months where the bands European tour was cancelled after Cobain was found unconscious in a hotel room, and his short stint in rehab just before his death.
But sadly with artists, these times of internal torment can often produce some of their greatest artistic works.
Still, we’re rapidly approaching the 20th anniversary of his death, and we’ve just celebrated the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s seminal album Nevermind.
Given the amount of money new material or undiscovered tracks would be worth we’d assumed it was a safe bet that there simply wasn’t any. Until now.
Enter ex-Hole guitarist and one of Cobain’s closest friends towards the end of his life, Eric Erlandson, who in a recent interview revealed that not only are there tracks none of us have ever heard, but that Cobain recorded an entire albums worth of solo demos shortly before he died.
Speaking about the solo album to US TV station Fuse, Erlandson revealed, “He was headed in a direction that was really cool. It would have been his ‘White Album’. That’s really what he was going towards, a solo album but working with different people.”
“I was really excited about some of the stuff he was working on. I got to see him play it in front of me. That’s why I was really sad when he died. He was cut short. Who knows where this music would have gone?”
Erlandson also expressed his desire to see the album mastered and released by lamented, “I’m not in control of things. I just wish something would come together. I think the fans would be a lot happier.”
“If nobody ever hears those songs, except for like three people, then that’s the way it goes. I heard some talk about somebody putting together some raw, rough acoustic thing.”
“There is one cover. I won’t say what it is. I don’t own the stuff. I just hope that one day it will be released for fans. It’s just so heartbreaking. It’s not surprising. It’s a very sweet, just touching song.”
Erlandson’s revelation is tantalising but leaves us with not much to go one. Who has these tracks in their possession, if anyone? And if they are found, who owns the rights?
Given the very public spats between Cobain’s widow Courtney Love and his former bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, you can be sure that any release would be messy and lawyers could get involved.
The release of ‘You Know You’re Right’ was delayed for years in the court system when Love and the surviving members of Nirvana couldn’t agree on how to release it. Love’s lawsuit asserted “the parties have fundamentally different concepts of how to manage the musical and artistic legacy of Kurt Cobain”, which resulted “in a stalemate of decision making.”
Love and her legal team at the time thought if managed correctly ‘You Know You’re Right’ could sell at least 15 million copies as a single.
Even if that weren’t true, the release of a posthumous Kurt Cobain solo record certainly would be a major event.