Tales of Rock: Did Kurt Cobain Steal the Riff for Come As You Are?

Happy Memorial Day everyone. Please remember those who gave their lives in this world’s terrible wars.

We all know the song, Come As You Are by Nirvana. It was one of the many hits from their landmark record, Nevermind. That record has achieved triple diamond status. Gold means 500k in album sales. Platinum means 1 million! Diamond status is 10 million units sold. But they’re at triple diamond on this album. That’s 30 million records sold! Phenomenal!

But I was in a store the other day and the song, Eighties by the post-punk group, Killing Joke was playing on their Spotify. I heard one of the employees start singing the lyrics to Come As You Are along with the song.

It got me thinking… did Kurt Cobain hear that song back in the 80s and consciously or subconsciously lift that riff from the song and slow it down in his song, Come As You Are?

Listen to both songs, and you be the judge!

Here’s Nirvana…

Now check out this great song by Killing Joke entitled, Eighties…

Very similar right? I’ve never heard of this comparison before and normally I can pick up on anything similar in songs I hear. Led Zeppelin was famous for stealing songs from other artists and turning them into gold. But this one sounds blatantly similar.

Just thought it was worth sharing. Maybe I’ll do a series on all of the stolen songs in rock!

 

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Tales of Rock: Man photographed as baby on ‘Nevermind’ cover sues Nirvana, alleging child pornography

The man who was photographed naked underwater as a baby and later ended up on Nirvana’s iconic “Nevermind” album cover filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that he was a victim of child pornography.

The album cover shows Spencer Elden, now 30, in a swimming pool as a then-infant with his penis exposed.

The image used for the cover of Nirvana’s sophomore 1991 album includes a digital imposition of a dollar bill on a fishhook that the baby looks like he is trying to grab. The cover was widely considered a rebuke of capitalism.

Non-sexualized nude photos of infants are generally not considered child pornography under law. But Elden’s lawyer, Robert Y. Lewis, alleges that the inclusion of currency in the shot makes the baby appear “like a sex worker.”

Kurt Cobain “chose the image depicting Spencer—like a sex worker— grabbing for a dollar bill that is positioned dangling from a fishhook in front of his nude body with his penis explicitly displayed,” the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court’s Central District of California, stated.

Elden is asking for at least $150,000 from each of the defendants, who include surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic; Courtney Love, the executor of Kurt Cobain’s estate; Guy Oseary and Heather Parry, managers of Cobain’s estate; photographer Kirk Weddle; art director Robert Fisher; and a number of existing or defunct record companies that released or distributed the album in the last three decades.

Original Nirvana drummer Chad Channing is also named as a defendant, even though he had been replaced by Grohl in 1990, before the album was recorded or the cover photography shot.

Nirvana's "Nevermind"
The cover of Nirvana’s 1991 album “Nevermind.”

Entertainment Weekly reported in 1992 that Elden, at 4 months old, was cast for the shoot along with three other babies. Cobain commissioned the shoot after he had seen a documentary on babies being born underwater and “thought the image would make a cool cover,” Fisher told the magazine at the time. “That vision was a bit too graphic, so we went with the swimming baby instead.”

Weddle took the pictures in an Olympic size pool at the Pasadena Aquatic Center in California.

“Weddle took a series of sexually graphic nude photographs of Spencer,” the suit said. “To ensure the album cover would trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer, Weddle activated Spencer’s ‘gag reflex’ before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer’s exposed genitals.”

“Weddle produced these sexually graphic images with the goal of enhancing and increasing the commercial success of Nirvana, L.L.C.’s Nevermind album.”

The album was selling about 300,000 copies a week when it reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 in early 1992. The album, with the classics “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come as You Are,” has spent at least 335 total weeks on the Billboard 200.

The cover image did receive pushback, at which point Cobain agreed to release the album with a sticker over Elden’s genitals that said: “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile.”

“The sticker, however, was never incorporated into the album cover,” the lawsuit said.

As a result, Elden “has been and will continue to suffer personal injury” and “permanent harm,” including “extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations, interference with his normal development and educational progress, lifelong loss of income earning capacity, loss of past and future wages, past and future expenses for medical and psychological treatment, loss of enjoyment of life, and other losses,” the suit stated.

Neither Elden nor his guardians signed a release authorizing the use of the image, according to the suit said. The family was paid $250, Entertainment Weekly reported in 1992.

In 2008, Spencer’s father, Rick, recounted the 1991 shoot to NPR. His friend Weddle, the photographer, “calls us up and was like, ‘Hey Rick, wanna make 200 bucks and throw your kid in the drink?'” the father recalled. “I was like, ‘What’s up?’ And he’s like, ‘Well, I’m shooting kids all this week, why don’t you meet me at the Rose Bowl (Aquatic Center), throw your kid in the drink?’ And we just had a big party at the pool, and no one had any idea what was going on!”

The NPR story went on to say that the family didn’t think more about it until, three months later, they saw a 9′-by-9′ blowup of the cover on the Tower Records wall on Sunset Boulevard.

“Two months later,” the article said, “Geffen Records sent 1-year-old Spencer Elden a platinum album and a teddy bear.”

Elden has repeatedly recreated the pose as a teenager and adult, diving into pools to pose — with swim trunks on — on the occasion of the album’s 10th, 17th, 20th, and 25th anniversaries.

However, in most of the interviews accompanying these photoshoots, he expressed mixed feelings about being famous for the “Nevermind” cover and whether he was exploited by it. Until now, despite his ongoing ambivalence about the photo’s legacy, he hadn’t described it as pornographic.

In previous interviews, he’s also said he tried to get in touch with Grohl and Novoselic, on a friendly basis, but never got a reply.

In 2016, the last time Spencer recreated the pose as an adult, he told the New York Post he wanted to take the shot naked.

“I said to the photographer, ‘Let’s do it naked.’ But he thought that would be weird, so I wore my swim shorts,” he said.

“The anniversary means something to me. It’s strange that I did this for five minutes when I was 4 months old and it became this really iconic image,” he said at the time. “It’s cool but weird to be part of something so important that I don’t even remember.”

He added that he prefers The Clash over Nirvana.

Phicklphilly: This is not child pornography. This is an artistic photo of a naked baby in a pool. There is nothing sexual or lascivious about it in any way.

This sounds like a cash grab 30 years after the fact by a desperate person.

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Tales of Rock – Kurt Cobain’s Custom-Built Fender Mustang Is Up For Auction

Kurt Cobain’s Fender Mustang is being sold at auction by Julien’s Auctions. The custom-built electric guitar was played by Cobain during Nirvana’s In Utero tour, and after his death in April 1994 it was given to a fan by Courtney Love.

Cobain’s Mustang is being auctioned as part of Julien’s Icons and Idols: Rock ‘N’ Roll collection, which also sees lots such as a 1988 Guild GF-60NT formerly owned by Eric Clapton and the late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell’s 1993 Gretsch Duo Jet. And hygiene be damned; there are even a couple of Bob Dylan’s old harmonicas on there too.

The Mustang was built by Scott Zimmerman of Japanese guitar manufacturer FujiGen, who held the Fender Japan contract from circa 1981 to 1997. Fender reached out to Zimmerman in 1993 because the Fender Custom Shop was not equipped to build left-handed Mustangs.

(Image credit: Julien’s Auctions)

(Image credit: Julien’s Auctions)

(Image credit: Julien’s Auctions)

The Mustang was among 10 ordered by Fender, with six in Fiesta Red and Sky Blue finishes being sent to Cobain before his death. It was shipped along with another Mustang on 22 October 1993, and those are the only two to have the “Offset Contour Body Patented” decal on the headstock. This Mustang was later modified by Cobain’s guitar tech, who affixed a Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge and installed a Seymour Duncan JB-1 humbucker in the bridge position.

The label on the case indicates the guitar was called the Skystang III, and the guitar comes with the case and a letter from Courtney Love to a fan, plus FedEx receipts and other ephemera as proof of authenticity.

Bidding is presently at $75,000, with one bid accepted. Julien’s Auctions expect it to fetch between $300,000 and $500,000 when the auction closes on 25 October.

See Julien’s Auctions for more details on the guitar and to view the other items in the catalogue.

 

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Tales of Rock – Kurt Cobain Kills Himself Twice

“Like Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, he was 27 years old when he died.

And let us not forget Amy Winehouse who also died at age 27.”

Few musicians’ experiences with drug abuse have been as complex and intense as Kurt Cobain’s. For proof of this, see the index of Charles Cross’ 2001 Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven. If you check, “Cobain, Kurt Donald; drug use of…” you’ll basically be instructed to read the entire book. He started off heavily averse to heroin; during his formative years, a friend suggested they try it and he stopped hanging out with him in response. He eventually tried the drug; when asked how it was by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, he shrugged, “Oh, it was all right.” But his habit escalated.

By the time Nirvana appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1992, Cobain was so deep in heroin addiction that he was vomiting and barely able to stand right until the time came to perform. He somehow pulled it together long enough to play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Territorial Pissings” on live television. In March 1994, Cobain attempted suicide for the first time by washing down a large dose of flunitrazepam with champagne while in Rome. He nearly died and ended up in a coma for a day (Novoselic claimed that, mentally, he was never the same after this).

Within weeks he was back in Seattle, crashing on his daughter’s junkie nanny’s girlfriend’s couch and popping out occasionally to purchase speedballs and burritos. Cross quotes the girlfriend as saying, “He’d sit in my living room with the hat with the ear coverings, and read magazines. People came and went; there was always a lot of activity going on. Nobody knew he was there or recognized him.” By the end of the month, Cobain was given an intervention and packed off to rehab in California. But he soon escaped the facility by scaling a six-foot wall and, improbably, found a seat on a flight back to Seattle next to Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan.

Despite beef between Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses, the two bonded, finding a great deal of common ground as famous musicians from the Pacific Northwest with heroin problems. Once back at his house, Cobain reattempted suicide and this time he meant business. He injected a lethal dose of heroin and then blasted himself in the head with a shotgun, effectively killing himself twice. Like Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, he was 27 years old when he died.

And let us not forget Amy Winehouse who also died at age 27.

Another sad rock and roll tragedy. Showbiz is the only industry that eats it’s young.

Check this out:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27_Club

A footnote from phicklephilly: “I never understood suicide. You get one chance to be here, why leave early if you don’t have to? Suicide’s for quitters. I’ve suffered with anxiety and depression my whole life. I’ve beaten the shit out of them both (without drugs) and now we’re all on the same side. Suicide is always a long term solution to usually a temporary problem. I just don’t get it, Kurt. I was in a band when I was younger. It was an amazing experience. Kurt, you play music for a living. You’re in a famous genre inspiring band. You’re surrounded by a gaggle of moist women. Your bank account is full and your nuts are empty. WTF?”

 

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