BBC marks the 30 year anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s passing

Image shows a portrait of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain

It really is 30 years since Kurt Cobain departed this mortal coil

The BBC (BBC Two, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6 Music) will be commemorating the 30th anniversary of the passing of Kurt Cobain with a range of programming to celebrate his life and musical legacy.

BBC Two and iPlayer

BBC Two and iPlayer will dedicate a Saturday night of programmes to Kurt and Nirvana during April, with the centrepiece being Moments That Shook Music: Kurt Cobain, a new documentary from Touchdown Films.

Featuring powerful and rare archive footage – some of which has never been seen on British TV before – Moments… is a visceral account of the days in 1994 leading up to the point Cobain took his own life.

By 1994, Nirvana had achieved mainstream and global success. Just as the they were hitting their stride as one of the biggest bands on the planet, their lead singer was gone, and the world wanted to know why. Cobain was hailed as the voice of a generation and the effects of his passing were felt across the world – Bill Clinton, who was president of the United States at the time, even discussed whether he should give a national address.

Footage captured by local fans in Seattle and raw material from news crews reporting at the time are woven together. We see the poignant reaction from the electrician who discovered Cobain’s body when installing a security system at his Seattle home.

There are statements from police at the scene; the chaos, confusion and devastation caught on video by his fans. Including the moment a tape recording of an emotional Courtney Love reading her late husband’s final letter was played out to a crowd of thousands at a vigil in Seattle. Plus a revealing interview with Cobain himself, just months before he died. Ghoulish? You decide. Feels a bit ghoulish to me.

Read more: musician Tom Gandey on mental health

The same night, BBC Two will give viewers another chance to see When Nirvana Came To Britain (first broadcast in 2021) which examines the special relationship between Nirvana and the UK. BBC Radio 6 Music’s Huw Stephens introduces highlights from rock titans Foo Fighters at Reading 2019, fronted by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, as they performed dozens of classics spanning their massive catalogue in front of the Reading Festival crowd; and The Live Lounge Show, in which Clara Amfo takes viewers behind the scenes at Radio 1’s Live Lounge in a programme that features performances from Foo Fighters and more.

BBC Radio and BBC Sounds

On Friday 5 April, BBC Radio 6 Music will remember Kurt with Kurt Cobain Forever. Each hour from 7am-7pm, presenters Nathan Shepherd, Deb Grant, Mary Anne Hobbs, Craig Charles and Emily Pilbeam will play a track by the lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter of Nirvana.

The songs will be introduced by voicenotes from famous fans of Kurt, including musician and producer steve albini, Michael Azerrad (author of Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana), Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses and 50FootWave, musician Nuha Ruby Ra, painter and author Billy Childish, Courtney Taylor-Taylor of The Dandy Warhols, Carlos O’Connell of Fontaines D.C., Lia Metcalfe of The Mysterines and more.

A collection of programmes dedicated to Kurt Cobain will also be available on BBC Sounds from Friday 5 April, including the Kurt Cobain Forever Playlist; Nirvana Live, featuring recorded live tracks performed in Seattle, Reading and New York; The First Time With…Dave Grohl, in which the former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman shares his musical milestones with 6 Music’s Matt Everitt; Nirvana at the BBC, featuring Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Butch Vig in conversation from the BBC archives; and Deep Dive into Nevermind, in which Butch Vig, Bat For Lashes, Teenage Fanclub, Breeders, Wu Lu and many more share their memories and passion for Nirvana’s seminal LP, with the album played in full.

On Radio 2, Jo Whiley will be playing tracks from Nirvana’s album Nevermind and sharing listeners’ memories in her show (from Tuesday 2 to Thursday 4 April, 7-9pm).

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