Kurt Cobain’s Aberdeen


December 21st, 2011

Musicians Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) and Krist Novoselic grew up and started the early incarnation of the legendary grunge band Nirvana in the Western Washington city of Aberdeen. Being a huge fan of Nirvana, It was one place I had to visit on my recent trip to the Olympic Peninsula. The welcome sign to Aberdeen says “Come As You Are” in tribute to Nirvana and Kurt but there is more to see than just that one sign.

Welcome sign aberdeen washington usa Nirvana Kurt Cobain
The welcome sign as you enter Aberdeen
Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain

Two blocks from Kurts childhood home is the North Aberdeen Bridge (also known locally as Young Street Bridge), which was requested to be renamed “Kurt Cobain Bridge” but this was rejected by the city council in July 2011 (probably due to his disparaging remarks about the town and his inappropriate behavior!). This bridge on the Wishkah River is somewhere he used to hang out and allegedly slept under as a teenager. These experiences inspired the Nirvana song “Something In The Way“.

1210 E. First Street – Kurt Cobain’s Childhood Home
Kurt Cobain Nirvana Wishkah River
North Aberdeen Bridge over the Wishkah River

Under the bridge is a sign “In Memoriam. From the muddy banks of the Wishkah” (“Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah” was also a title of an album released in 1996 of Nirvana live performances from 1989-1994). Under the bridge has become somewhat of a destination for fans from all over the world. There is a lot of graffiti under there, but most of it is in some form of tribute to Kurt Cobain (I even noticed some from Australia).

In Memoriam
Under The Bridge
Under The Bridge

Although the bridge was not renamed, a small area next to the bridge has been named Kurt Cobain Riverfront Park. There is a sculpture monument of Cobain’s Fender electric guitar on a black plinth (with words inscribed on it from the Nirvana song “On a Plain“: “One more special message to go and then I’m done and I can go home“), there are also signs and plaques dedicated to him and his music. This memorial park officially opened in April 2011 and for a Nirvana fan it is well worth a visit.

Kurt Cobain Nirvana
Kurt Cobain Riverfront Park
Kurt Cobain Riverfront Park
Kurt Cobain Nirvana
Memorial plaque on the sculpture

Some information available indicates that after Kurt Cobains death in 1994, his family and friends gathered at this river to spread a third of his ashes. I have been informed that this actually was done in McLane Creek in Olympia, Washington (thanks Mitch Holmquist). I gather Courtney Love still has the remaining ashes?

Kurt Cobain Riverfront Park
Kurt Cobain Riverfront Park (the city censored this monument when it was placed here in 2009!)

Apparently there is also a statue of Kurt Cobain inside a muffler shop(!) in Aberdeen. It depicts him unshaved sitting playing the guitar with a tear running down his cheek. I did not know of this when I was there, so alas did not get a chance to find this one, but there is always next time!

Early photos of Kurt in Aberdeen (taken at the EMP Nirvana Exhibition in Seattle – June 2011)

P.S. Here are the other blogs I have written on Nirvana and Kurt Cobain:

Nirvana: Live at the Paramount

Nevermind Live: 20th Anniversary Concert

From The Way of the Dragon to Nevermind

R.I.P. Kurt Cobain

A Day of Grunge, Rock, Sci-Fi and Horror at the EMP!

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18 Comments Add yours

  1. kerryl29 says:

    Spend some time in Aberdeen and it’s easy to understand why Kurt Cobain was so depressed…dying logging town, perpetually gloomy weather…

    Very interesting assortment of images.

    1. Deano says:

      It was kind of appropriate that the day I was there it was grey and misty, sums it all up I guess?

  2. Mitch Holmquist says:

    Hello Deano, Please don’t take this wrong as I am not bashing you, but their is one small part of misinformation on your blog, None of Kurt’s ashes were deposited in the Wishkah, the sign posted at the park is wrong, The sign was put in place along with the table and benches by a Very good Heart’d local citizen by the name of Tori Kovach, he was not up on his NIRVANA history as, he is not your average NIRVANA fan he is in his 70’s but by no means a curmudgeon , he did however get his information off of Wikipedia, which is notoriously wrong, the sign was put up at his expense, and he does not have the funds at this time to correct it (He has gone above and beyond in his contributions to this park already) a third of Kurt’s ashes were deposited in McLane creek in Olympia WA is how it should actually read. I would also like to point out that a small NIRVANA exhibit has recently been opened at the Aberdeen Museum of History as well ! if you should come back, please look me up and I will gladly show you around, Nick Soulsby can vouch for who I am and where my info comes from, Please come back and visit soon Thanks Mitch Holmquist

    1. Deano says:

      Hi Mitch, thanks for the info. I will update that in the blog. I have heard of you, I believe you were selling the Melvins van at some stage? Did Kurt Cobains parents old place end up selling?

  3. Mitch Holmquist says:

    Hi Deano, Yes that was me who listed the Van on ebay, what a nightmare that was ! And No the house has not sold as of yet, I think Wendy set her expectations about $400,000 to high, nothing significant happened there, and it is in a bad area known as “felony flats” . Wendy has mentioned making a Museum out of it, but it can’t happen, the area is zoned residential and has very limited parking as it is. Mayor Bill Simpson has confirmed that in it’s current location nothing can be done with it, but remove it from it’s location, and you take away from it’s historical value as well, it’s a real catch 22……… and as for the sign it was a Honest mistake on Tori’s part it take’s nothing away from what he has done, I pay 100% respect to him !

    1. Deano says:

      Yeah I can imagine! Shame about the house, but what can you do?

    2. Deano says:

      Did you end up selling the van?

      1. Mitch Holmquist says:

        The best plan I could come up with for the house, would be to gut Kurt’s bedroom (Sheetrock, shingles, everything) and reconstruct it with all original materials inside the Aberdeen museum of History, that way people would be able to see and appreciate, I know it is not a perfect plan, because it still takes away from the house it’self, but nobody has come up with anything better, as for the van, it did sell, after three failed ebay attempts, due to the media making up their own stories and destroying any confidence that anybody may have had in us it did sell to a local person for a very reasonable price, that being said, it sucks that the buyer has no desire to publicly display it…….

      2. Deano says:

        Yes that is a problem, do you destroy the significance of the place to take it elsewhere or leave it alone where no one can really enjoy it.

        Shame the van didn’t end up at EMP or the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Or some other similar museum

  4. Mitch Holmquist says:

    Ha, their is a story to that, Paul Allen, one of the richest people in the world and owner of the EMP wanted the van, but he was not willing to purchase it from it’s owner who was having his house foreclosed on, he wanted it as a donation ! do you thing he would have been willing to let people come in and see it for free ? NOPE, he is all about money F*CK HIM !

    1. Deano says:

      Now that’s interesting! Small change to him at the end of the day!

  5. Mitch Holmquist says:

    In the end, it did sell very cheap, I’m sure the new owner had instant equity

    1. Deano says:

      I guess you were just glad to move it on in the end. Hopefully he does something good with it so others can appreciate it too

  6. Mitch Holmquist says:

    It was our hope and intention that it be publicly displayed, I guess we failed in that respect……

    1. Deano says:

      Sometimes these things are out of your control. Worth the attempt though!

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