Nirvana: The Night Kurt Cobain Got Attacked on Stage
Rock N’ Roll True Stories most recent video takes a look at the 1991 Dallas concert where Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was attacked on stage by the very guy who was supposed to protect him! Check out the full story below!
Nirvana would change the landscape of rock n roll with their sophomore record 1991’s Nevermind. The band would hit the road to support the record and Nevermind wouldn’t top the billboard album charts until January of the following yearwhen the band displaced Michael Jackson from the number 1 spot. During an October 19th stopover in Dallas, Texas Nirvana would play one of the most memorable concerts in the city’s history, but not for the reason’s you’d think. That’s what we’re going to explore in today’s video.
Released on September 24, 1991 Nirvana’s Nevermind would usher in a new era of rock n’ roll dominated by alternative bands who mostly came from the pacific northwest. Nirvana would play a gig at a club called Trees in Dallas, & the gig was booked around the time Nevermind was released and by the time the dallas date arrived, the band’s single Smells Like Teen Spirit had been out for a couple weeks, and was picking up steam on rock radio and MTV.
At this point in time Nirvana was already graduating to playing bigger venues. In fact Nirvana’s management felt the band was too big to play the club as it only had a capacity of about 1,000 people and tried to get the gig moved to a bigger venue, but the promoter said no. According to the club’s manager Stephen Shein who would tell the Dallas News “There were four or five hundred people outside trying to get in, The police department showed up and told them to go home.” while Brad Featherstone who shot the concert with his VHS camera told the same publication.
“People were very excited, and that feeling was in the air,”
According to the newly released punk documentary Everything is A-Ok. The promoter would claim he knew things were going to go sideways even before the gig started. The people at the label had laid out nevermind posters at the venue when the band arrived & they wanted them to sign them. Those posters would then be given to radio stations as well as record stores and other people who the label works with to help promote the album. When the band rolled into the venue, drummer Dave Grohl and bassist krist Novaselic quickly went around the table of posters and signed them. But frontman Kurt Cobain appeared to be in a sour mood and spent five minutes on each poster drawing all over them. The promoter would claim Cobain wasn’t easy to deal with and even when they told him to hurry up and sign the posters, he ignored them.
As you can see in this video things were pretty cramped and the venue typically didn’t even have barricades or much security for the band’s who played there, but at the band’s request they had three of four people in front of the band to stop the audience from coming on the stage. According to the promoter about 3 or 4 songs in, Kurt was upset about the monitor mix and started to smash the monitor with his guitar. The monitors belonged to the venue, not the band, so the venue staff were shocked at what they were seeing. They would put a piece of plywood on the monitor console to stop it from being further destroyed by Cobain. Around 40 minutes into the set Cobain leaped into the audience and as the audience pushed him back towards the stage, the frontman hit a stagehand named Turner Van Blarcum in the face with his guitar.
The club’s manager would tell Dallas News “I was standing there thinking, ‘There goes the (expletive) show,'” “It turned into pandemonium” he’d remember. The stage hand who Cobain struck in the head with his guitar was bleeding profusely. Angry, he punched and kicked Cobain who flew across across the stage. Cobain’s bandmates had break up the fight and the trio left the stage.
After the band’s performance came to a halt, the venue started to play the band’s Nevermind album, but the chorus of Boos just got louder and son enough the crowd was screaming bullshit.
The promoter would claim he found cobain locked upstairs in a closet with another man doing drugs but was able to convince him to get back on stage and finish the show.
Meanwhile the stagehand, wasn’t done with Cobain. He was waiting for the band to finish their set and was out in the parking lot. Following the band’s set the promoter called a cab to pick them up the band in the alleyway behind the enue and as they turned the corner to get on the street they had to wait for traffic to clear. Standing there was the stage hand Van Blacrum saw them chased after them and broke one of the cabs windows and tried to grab Kurt but the vehicle quickly sped away.
Van Blarcum would admit in the same documentary, he was afraid he’d go to prison or be sued by Geffen Records or Nirvana. He soon started to receive multiple letters from the record label, but was too afraid to open it thinking it would be a lawsuit. It wasn’t until a friend looked at the letter that he realized it was multiple cash offers to make the incident go away.
Featherstone, the man who filmed the concert, would be tracked down by a private investigator who was hired by the band & Nirvana would buy his bootleg of the concert. Footage from that concert would appear on Nirvana’s 1994 video release Live Tonight, Sold out in addition to the music video for the song You Know You’re Right.
Due to the notoriety of the show Shein would tell the Dallas News “For all the people that were there, there’s about 5,000 others who claim they were there,” That does it for today’s video guys. Thanks for watching. Be sure to hit the like button and subscribe and we’ll see you again on rock n’ roll true stories. Take care.