What Was in the FBI’s Kurt Cobain File?

An unexpected look into musical history

Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.

What happens when an intelligence agency releases previously hidden documents on a subject near and dear to the hearts of many? Earlier this year, the CIA declassified an abundance of information on UFOs, offering entire subcultures plenty of new material to think about. Not to be outdone, the FBI has periodically released its files pertaining to various beloved musicians — including a 2011 release of information on the Notorious B.I.G.

Now, the FBI has made a number of its records related to Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain public. At Rolling Stone, David Browne offers an analysis of what’s in the files — and explores what it can tell us about the aftermath of Cobain’s 1994 death.

Rolling Stone notes that the most pressing parts of the file are letters calling for an investigation of Cobain’s death as a murder. Browne writes that one letter cites the documentary Kurt & Courtney to bolster its argument. The FBI opted to pass on these requests, noting that such an investigation was a matter for local law enforcement.

The entire file totals 10 pages — a relatively small number compared with the FBI’s file on Jimi Hendrix, and a figure exponentially smaller than the FBI’s John Lennon files. Regardless, leafing through it can bring back memories of a sad time in music history and can also venture into Nirvana’s continuing musical impact.

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