Kurt Cobain: Nine Memorable Quotes from the Nirvana Frontman

Kurt Cobain was a rocker, guitarist, diarist and visual artist—and (somewhat reluctantly) an icon of a generation.

Despite his relatively brief time in the public eye, the Nirvana frontman was also a regular dispenser of wisdom and insight. He was open and outspoken about his politics, feminism, musical interests and struggles with both physical and mental health issues. And he gave great quotes to fans and interviewers that have survived long after his April 5, 1994, suicide at the age of 27.

To mark the anniversary of Cobain's 1994 death, these are some of our favorite quotes from the singer.

1. Cobain was outspoken about feminism and his opposition to misogyny and rape culture:

"Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth. And it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there." (NME, 1991)

2. These topics eventually inspired Cobain to write the 1993 song "Rape Me," which he explained was written so bluntly and explicitly that it couldn't be misinterpreted:

"Basically, I was trying to write a song that supported women and dealt with the issue of rape. Over the last few years, people have had such a hard time understanding what our message is, what we're trying to convey, that I just decided to be as bold as possible. How hard should I stamp this point? How big should I make the letters? It's not a pretty image. But a woman who is being raped, who is infuriated with the situation . . . it's like 'Go ahead, rape me, just go for it, because you're gonna get it.' I'm a firm believer in karma, and that motherfucker is going to get what he deserves, eventually. That man will be caught, he'll go to jail, and he'll be raped." (Rolling Stone, 1994)

3. And, in a famous quote from the band's liner notes, he directly asked bigots and racists not to listen to Nirvana:

"If any of you, in any way, hate homosexuals, people of a different color or women, please do this one favor for us—leave us the fuck alone. Don't come to our shows and don't buy our records." (Incesticide booklet, 1992)

4. Cobain on how family and fatherhood changed his priorities in life:

"I don't even care about the band as much as I used to. I know that sounds shitty, but the band use to be the only thing that was important to me in my life, and now, I have a wife and a child. I still love the band, but it isn't the only thing I'm living for." (Spin, 1992)

5. Cobain had mixed feelings about MTV, despite owing some of his success to the video channel's support of Nirvana:

"It's not that great being on MTV 20 times a day. It's great for record sales, but I wish there was some kind of contract you could draw up where there was only a certain amount of time they could play you in a week." (Spin, 1992)

6. Cobain struggled with stomach pain throughout his adult life. In 1994, he discussed how the pain had disrupted his musical life and sometimes made him suicidal. (He would take his own life later that year.)

"For five years during the time I had my stomach problem, yeah. I wanted to kill myself every day. I came very close many times. I'm sorry to be so blunt about it. It was to the point where I was on tour, lying on the floor, vomiting air because I couldn't hold down water. And then I had to play a show in 20 minutes. I would sing and cough up blood. This is no way to live a life. I love to play music, but something was not right. So I decided to medicate myself." (Rolling Stone, 1994)

Kurt Cobain
A sign in Kurt Cobain Park in Aberdeen, Washington on April 1, 2014. Sebastian Vuagnat/AFP/Getty Images

7. Cobain on his desire to branch out creatively and embrace softer, poppier styles of music:

"We have failed in showing the lighter, more dynamic side of our band. The big guitar sound is what the kids want to hear. We like playing that stuff, but I don't know how much longer I can scream at the top of my lungs every night, for an entire year on tour. Sometimes I wish I had taken the Bob Dylan route and sang songs where my voice would not go out on me every night, so I could have a career if I wanted." (Rolling Stone, 1994)

Related: Did Kurt Cobain's death lower the suicide rate in 1994?

8. Cobain on racial and cultural appropriation in music:

"The white man ripped off the black man long enough. They should leave rap music to the African-Americans because they do it so well and it is so vital to them." (Billboard, 1991)

9. Cobain on his strange and inexplicable chemistry with wife Courtney Love:

"It's like Evian water and battery acid... I'm just happier than I've ever been. I finally found someone that I am totally compatible with. It doesn't matter whether she's a male, female or hermaphrodite or a donkey. We're compatible.'' (Rolling Stone, 1992)