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How A Pink Suitcase Helped Make Kurt Cobain's Early Homemade Demos

Nirvana Kurt Cobain Teenager

From an early age, Kurt Cobain began exploring his musical talent. He had his first guitar at age 15, a Sears electric bass, and he spent a lot of his spare time learning how to play it. His aunt Mari had a Teac 4-track reel-to-reel recorder, and whenever he was staying with her she encouraged him to use it. Cobain recorded several home demos on this device as a teenager, some of which include 'Organized Confusion' and 'Fecal Matter' (the latter recording included Dale Crover from The Melvins).

One interesting feature Cobain used on his early homemade demos is a pink suitcase that belonged to his mother, Wendy. Kurt emptied the contents, grabbed two wooden spoons, and used it as a makeshift drum kit on the demos. He wasn't interested in using a drum machine because he wanted the music to sound pure without any compromise. Having claimed the suitcase for his own musical interest, Cobain decorated it with various writing and designs. Some of the writing on the suitcase represents early band names used before Nirvana which include Pen Cap Chew and Skid Row. The band went through a phase where they changed their name almost on a monthly basis, experimenting with the likes of Ted Ed Fred, Brown Towel, Bliss, Throat Oyster, and Windowpane. Eventually, the name was changed once again. In 1988 the group landed on Nirvana, and that was the one that stuck.

Notably, Cobain still used the pink suitcase later on in the Nirvana days, but it had a different purpose. He no longer needed it as a makeshift drum kit, but he would take it on the road with him and use it as storage for his special effects pedals. If that suitcase could talk, I'd imagine there would be a lot of interesting stories!

Kurt Cobain Pink Suitcase

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About the author

Jenn is a former MoPOP volunteer and Nirvana superfan.

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