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Heavier Than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  18,668 Ratings  ·  700 Reviews
Based on more than 400 interviews, four years of research and a wealth of documentation, this text traces Cobain's life from his early days in a trailer to his rise to fame and the adulation of a generation.
Paperback, 381 pages
Published 2002 by Sceptre (first published 2001)
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Elinor Hawke-Szady I seriously DOUBT Kurt Cobain killed himself. The evidence at the scene doesn't add up; everything points to murder.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ana {The Good Gif Fairy}
*This review is dark and full of gifs.

I have a special relationship with Kurt Cobain. Yes it's as weird as it sounds. Kurt died in 1994, and in 1994 I was a child, far too young to know him. It wasn't until I was in my teens that I was introduced to Nirvana.

The thing was that listening to Nirvana had changed me, and I really liked that change. Kurt Cobain's angst-ridden lyrics spoke to my rebellious teenage soul.

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Who exactly was Kurt Cobain?

He was a talented musician.

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He was sensitive.

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Aug 02, 2007 Lorrie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I just noticed the average rating for this book was 4 stars. Yuck. The author does a decent job putting together Kurt Cobains' life and rise to fame. In the last chapters he takes "creative license" in describing Kurts' last moments, all the way to his suicide. It's disgusting. No one was there (that we know of). He has no right.
Kye Alfred Hillig
This booked disturbed me a bit. I know everyone wants to rape the corpse of Cobain but not me and admitting this is embarrassing but hey, we're all friends here. Reading it I saw a lot of myself in Kurt Cobain and it worried me. Am I going to blow my brains out? I certainly hope not. Maybe I related to him in the way that a lot of people did. Maybe he's just a common guy who was thrown into something bigger than him. At any rate Charles Cross really did his research and created a book that I ate ...more
Mar 25, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw Nirvana in concert 4 months before Cobain took his life. After hundreds of live shows it still stands as one of my all time favorites. In fact it was the first concert I ever crowd-surfed at. I was able to get up close and personal with the band and, in doing so, saw that Kurt rarely looked up at the crowd. His eyes were glued to the floor most of the night. This book helped me to understand why. Given his recurrent heroin addiction, the debilitating stomach pain he'd fought for years, the ...more
Jan 05, 2010 Josh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this book is almost equal parts fiction and Courtney Love approved versions of "actual events." it gives some information, but it should be taken with a grain of salt. there are TONS of proven historical errors. i don't blame the author for the misinformation, however, as he had to have everything cleared by Courtney Love. he did lose his credibility, though. i can't believe they used him on "busted circuits and ringing ears: the TAD story" dvd that came out a year ago.

if you are a Nirvana fan,
Dec 01, 2010 tinabot rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I published this on a music blog group called Future Rockstars of American (which is now dead I think):

I finished reading the biography of Kurt Cobain, Heavier Than Heaven written by Charles Cross, just in time for what would have been his 41st birthday. My conclusion?Kurdt (that’s how he liked to spell it) was a jerk!
Cortney Love had the crowd call him worse things when she read his suicide note to them.

I was not an active and avid fan of Nirvana when their singer Kurt Cobain killed glam rock
Mar 30, 2008 Desy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kurt Cobain's & Nirvana's #1 fans
Baru selesai baca kemarin malam. Akhirnya selesai juga baca kisah si motornya Nirvana ini :D. Meski yang gua baca itu versi terjemahan bahasa Indonesianya, kayaknya gua pengen beli juga yang versi aslinya.

Bytheway. Buku ini cukup rinci nyeritain kisah hidup Kurt Cobain. Tentu beserta Nirvana n keluarganya. Pokoknya semua yang dirasa pernah ada hubungan dengan Kurt, dituangkan secara kronologis di buku ini. Si penulisnya melakukan 400 wawancara selama empat taun dengan orang-orang yang pernah ber
Aug 14, 2007 Montgomery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kurt Cobain was a constant whiner and self-mythogist who constantly complained that fame was thrust upon him. Cross spends the first half of the biography debunking the Cobain myths and demonstrating how heavily Kurt courted mainstream success. The second half of the book documents Cobain's downward spiral- it's really amazing that he had to kill himself with a shotgun when he got so close so many times with his "heroine." Fucked up, sad read about a man I idolized when I wasn't yet old enough t ...more
Nov 04, 2013 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book until I got to the last chapter. Like a couple of other reviews state, the author makes it feel like Kurt is a character in a fictional story. I am absolutely fascinated by his life. The book is packed with details that left me astounded. While reading, I kept a browser open on my computer because there was always something I wanted to look into or a video to search. The author did a brilliant job of describing specific scenes and pictures, I really wish more of the pictures ...more
Mar 26, 2013 Aimee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hmmmm... well, I don't read a lot of biographies. I didn't know a lot about Kurt Cobain even though I am a Nirvana fan. The book was interesting and the author seemed to have interviewed and researched a lot of facts. Mostly what I took from this book is that Kurt was a complex person plagued with self doubt, physical pain, issues of abandonment and a family history of mental illness. Oh and he made a conscious decision to be a drug addict. And, wow, did he do a lot of drugs.

The parts about the
Those who know me best are aware that, besides books, music is my other big passion. There is not a single day that I don't feel the need to get carried away by songs that make me remember places, situations, persons and emotions. I don't constantly try to hear new bands or artists, because I'd rather stick with the ones I already love. Nirvana is one of those bands.

Most of you probably have heard of Nirvana, the most memorable band of the 90's, also because the tragedy that ended up the band, b
Mar 21, 2008 Kirk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medium-warm
Interesting fact No. 1: KC's first concert was not the Melvins or some such punk band, but Sammy Hagar, who has shown surprisingly restraint in not naming a brand of tequila after the now-Converse branded icon.

That's just one reason why this book about The Voice of Your Generation is valuable: it's proof that no one is born punk or even cool, but that it's an attitude one accrues by hanging around the right crowd. That's why the real heroines here aren't named Courtney but first girlfriend Trac
Mar 15, 2008 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a bit of a cliche of celebrity, but Kurt Cobain really was an incredibly contradictory personality. Part of the fun of Heavier Than Heaven is trying to take all of the evidence, presented in amazing detail by Charles R. Cross, and trying to piece together what kind of person he was.

As anyone casually familiar with Cobain knows, he was constantly trying to strike a balance between his strong punk sense of morality and his desire to get his music out to a large audience. Deeper than just a c
Jul 18, 2008 Whitney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nirvana/Hole fans
Recommended to Whitney by: Patt McManus
I had read Michael Azerad's "Come as You Are," the story of Nirvana way back in the day so I knew quite a bit about Kurt's life and the history of the band. This went a lot deeper and was compiled of many sources, family members and friends of the band and was a lot more true to life. Michael Azerad's book was based on interviews with the band, so it was mostly how the band wanted to portray themselves. This book made me decide that if I had known Kurt I would have thought him a lazy, self-absor ...more
Oct 04, 2010 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Biography of Kurt Cobain:
A Troubled Genius
Is fame a blessing or a curse? Many people wonder what it is like to be famous. Kurt Cobain doesn’t need to.
One of the themes most prevalent throughout the Biography of Kurt Cobain was that you can achieve almost anything if you keep at it. You can achieve almost anything because Kurt’s record tops the charts, he becomes famous worldwide, and he never listened to anyone who said he couldn’t do it.
You can achieve almost anything if you really try becau
Daniel Solera
For a long time, I have wanted to read about the life of Kurt Cobain. Not only was he one of the most important pop-culture figures of my adolescence, but his enigmatic personality, cryptic lyrics and almost mythical status piqued my curiosity. Charles Cross' biography does the man and his work justice.

At 365 pages, it's a little longer than I had anticipated, but not a single chapter is worth skipping. Cross describes Cobain's life with careful attention to detail, even cross-referencing specif
Hypia Sanches
Apr 08, 2013 Hypia Sanches rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[please, ignore any spelling/grammar mistakes]

If you ask me if it is possible to describe the same person as "insane" and as a "genius", I'd say yes without even blinking. And we are talking about Kurt Cobain, who, as the fans know, was a billion contradictions at once.

If I already liked his band, Nirvana, after reading this biography I like their music even more.

Family issues, drug addiction, depression and other factors surely played a part in Kurt's personality, there's no denying it. But ano
Aug 28, 2007 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
I found this book fascinating, and was even teary by the very end page! Some parts were hilarious, like Steve Albini calling Courtney Love a "psycho hosebeast," and Kurt's grandfather remarking on seeing Courtney walk around their home in a slip: "She had no pants on. It sure as hell wasn't ladylike." But one of my favorite parts was a letter Kurt wrote to his ex-girlfriend and Bikini Kill member Tobi Vail at the end of 1993 when Nirvana were already huge:

"I made about five million dollars last
Normally you would consider Kurt Cobain to be "the voice of a generation", as in, "the voice of Generation X" - when in reality, he's also A voice for various generations that came after him. The internet really destroyed the idea of a cohesive generational identity, and Kurt Cobain was one of the last pre-Napster rock stars to ever be exploited horribly by the music industry as he lay in poverty while touring in vans and generally getting high on heroin even though he was meant to be a father t ...more
Brian James
Sep 10, 2012 Brian James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not only was this book wonderfully researched, it was also powerfully written. In my opinion it's rare for a biography to be such a riveting example of storytelling, especially when so much is publicly known about the subject, but this book proved otherwise. A very moving portrait of someone who in many ways got what he always wanted, only to discover he was so ill fitted for the fame he sought.

The author exhausted nearly every possible reference for this book, talking to everyone close to Kurt
Mar 23, 2016 Rae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Going into this I wasn't a huge fan Nirvana and I'm still not. I did however really enjoy this book. It started off working through his childhood and although being very revealing of his character it was very slow to get through. I powered on, hoping it would get better and was not disappointed. Kurt was such an interesting person to read about in his teens/early twenties. He was a true artist and it is clear why he was able to make such a big impact with Nirvana. As the book progressed and reve ...more
Nov 24, 2008 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nirvana fans/
This book is the Courtney Love sanctioned version of Kurt Cobain. May be something to bear in mind while reading it.
Cara Ellison
May 03, 2011 Cara Ellison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Well, now I'm obsessed. To be totally objective, I was hovering on the obsession line for a while. I love Nirvana, and Kurt Cobain specifically, so when I picked up Heavier Than Heaven, I thought I'd just get a better understanding of the subject.

Newp. Not so easy. This book reads like a novel. It sucks you in, chomps down on your guts with shark jaws, shakes you around, and then suddenly releases you into the calm black depths of total obsession.

This portrait of Kurt Cobain is not objective. O
Aurimas Novikovas
Jan 26, 2016 Aurimas Novikovas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
i finally know, after damn 22 years, what catharsis is. sorry. what nirvana has been.
absolutely the best biography i have ever found and, i hope, the best i am still yet to find.
heavier than heaven is the first book after many years that made my skin shiver. now, when i watch old nirvana videos, i see kurt /kurdt/ and i know that he`s the friend of mine. the new short story i`ve written talks a lot about him yet i haven`t thought of doing anything like that. when i see him play, i see the frien
Aurora Dimitre
I'm going to begin this by saying that it's always very strange to rate/review biographies, because these are real people we're talking about, so this is entirely on the mechanics of the book written; the writing style, the word choices, things like that.

This was an interesting biography. I haven't read very many biographies - I read one on Nikola Tesla last year, and I've read a few memoirs, but those are about as close as I've gotten. But this one was almost written as though it were a nov
Oct 02, 2015 Lubna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd like to start off with this gif


I don't know the extent of truth in the book, but i am positive it did take a huge deal of research to gather all the information. Reading this felt like i was reading a historical book, details and all, and the index of the book has all the sources and interviews done. I am in no position to doubt the author's honesty, but he is an author nevertheless and that is definitely accompanied by bits of creative writing here and there.

The book did not fail to deliv
Dec 19, 2014 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Foi quase um ano para terminar de ler esta biografia de Kurt Cobain. Comecei a 24 de Dezembro de 2013 e termino hoje, 19 de Dezembro de 2014. Nunca esperei demorar tanto tempo para ler este livro. São 450 páginas mas nunca pareceram demais quando decidi começar a ler. E nunca serão de mais porque contar a vida de Kurt Cobain nunca será uma tarefa limitada a número de páginas porque há tanto para dizer.

O autor foi muito descritivo, começando por contar todos os detalhes da vida de Kurt desde que
Jan 21, 2013 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to Nirvana's music by the television show My So Called Life ( a great show cancelled after one year). So, I was curious about Kurt Cobain. I knew he committed suicide (but some people believe he was murdered.)

Cross' biography seems very well documented. It's full of quotes from Kurt's friends, band members, family, ex-girlfriends, and of course (no one can shut her up) Courtney Love. Cross treats Love very sympathically in this book. It seems pretty clear from the book that Love
Jan 23, 2012 Lily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being a huge Nirvana fan, I am always searching for the perfect stories that let me into the lives of the performers. Heavier Than Heaven was the perfect escape into the depths of Kurt Cobain (late frontman of Nirvana)'s life.

Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain unravels the shocking story of Kurt Cobain, frontman of Nirvana and grunge hero. The story starts with the rebellious acts of young Cobain, and quickly accelerates to adolescent years when punk bands were booming and teenag
Qaris Tajudin
Aug 22, 2012 Qaris Tajudin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saya kira, Charles R. Cross adalah salah seorang penulis biografi terbaik. Itu dia dapatkan dari ratusan jam wawancara dan riset ribuan halaman dokumen. Kegilaannya dalam meriset itu membut biografi yang ditulisnya--termasuk buku tentang Kurt Cobain ini dan "Room Full of Mirrors" tentang Jimi Hendrix--hidup. Kita benar-benar melihat tokoh yang dia ceritakan secara utuh.

Cross, misalnya, bisa menggambarkan apa gambar di kotak makan Kurt Cobain ketika taman kanak-kanak. Ia juga bisa dengan detil me
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Charles R. Cross is a rock music journalist and author based in Seattle. He is the founder of Backstreets magazine, a periodical for fans of Bruce Springsteen, editor of "Springsteen: the Man and His Music," a compilation of Backstreets articles, and is also author of a biography of Kurt Cobain, titled Heavier Than Heaven. His most recent release is entitled Room Full Of Mirrors - A Biography Of J ...more
More about Charles R. Cross...

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“Kurt left in the early morning to walk around Aberdeen in the pale light of dawn. The storm had passed, birds were chirping, and everything in the world seemed more alive. He walked around for hours thinking about it all, waiting for school to begin, watching the sun come up, wondering where his life was heading.” 9 likes
“He was able to sit in silence for long stretches without feeling a need to make small talk.” 8 likes
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