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Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  25,208 ratings  ·  993 reviews
The art of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was all about his private life, but written in a code as obscure as T.S. Eliot's. Now Charles Cross has cracked the code in the definitive biography Heavier Than Heaven, an all-access pass to Cobain's heart and mind. It reveals many secrets, thanks to 400-plus interviews, and even quotes Cobain's diaries and suicide notes and reveals an unr ...more
Hardcover, 381 pages
Published 2001 by Hyperion
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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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Val ⚓️ Shameless Non-Snowflake ⚓️
DNF @ 27%

First of all, ANA...

I know Kurt is your spiritual animal homie and soul please don't slay me for abandoning and not loving this thing...


But, quite frankly, this book is portraying Kurt as a bit of a whiny liar to me...and after my tragic experience with THIS Red Hot Chili Peppers book - and my subsequent inability to listen to anymore of their music after attempting to read it - I don't want to risk disliking Kurt and not being able to listen to my favorite Nirvana songs.

I wo
May 12, 2007 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.
Valerity (Val)
Originally published in 2001 and with a well-written update added to bring it up to date, this is a well-researched book by an author who was around for many of the events at the time. Charles Cross spent 4 years researching, and interviewing 400 people for this book. So you can tell it’s pretty thorough. He tells us how Cobain’s time being famous, from his first album coming out to his death was less than 1000 days. That’s pretty heart-rending to think about. It does a good job of filling out t ...more
Kye Alfred Hillig
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 rated it did not like it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Elaine Mullane || At Home in Books
Charles R. Cross's Heavier Than Heaven isn't just one of my favourite biographies; it's one of my favourite books. A few years ago, when I had my own music blog, I had the incredible opportunity to interview Cross. I thought I would include that piece here as a tribute to this wonderful book about one of music's most iconic and dearly missed figures.

Seattle is a place I have been obsessed with from an early age. Cameron Crowe’s 1992 film Singles (and its incredible soundtrack) is partly to blame
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 Stars for Heavier than Heaven (audiobook) by Charles R. Cross read by Lloyd James. This was a sadly insightful story about the tragic life of Kurt Cobain. The author chose to not place any blame on the friends or family around Cobain. And really I don’t know what anyone could have done to save him. Sadly the outcome seemed inevitable.
Célia | Estante de Livros
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 rated it liked it
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

If anyone tries to bash Kurt, I'll knife you.
Yes, he was addicted to heroin, he was troubled and he wasn't necessarily a great person all the time, but he gave so much and his work means a lot to a lot of people.
Me included.



I think the hardest books to rate arer biographies, autobiographies and memoir, for the simple reason that it feels like you are giving a rating to someone's life. Like, yeah, Kurt Cobain, he was like a 3 stars, i didn't like some of the things
Nov 04, 2013 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I've read this book both in english and lithuanian, though I've read english version more because I got it years earlier and I was fascinated by the writing style of Charles R. Cross and bunch of never before heard Kurt Cobain's biography details. This book just blows you away and you can't easy recover after vicariously witnessing the life of one of the biggest alternative icons. Everyone to whom I've lended this book were also blown away, even though they weren't Nirvana fans. It is a great bi ...more
Nov 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Oct 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 27, 2007 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
Stephen McQuiggan
Jan 26, 2017 rated it liked it
A dispiriting overview of a car-wreck life with an inevitable tragic ending. Yet the most depressing thing is not its subject, nor the misjudged final chapter, but the fact that it is almost impossible to go online without being bombarded with 'Courtney murdered Kurt' hysteria. And, of course, Cross is castigated for not indulging in such idle speculation - he's obviously one of Love's minions. I guess if you are going to elevate someone to Sainthood, then someone must play the part of She Devi ...more
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Sandy Plants
I never really knew much about Kurt or nirvana, though I know most of their music without ever really going through a “nirvana phase”. I was never sure of why people worshipped Kurt so I decided to read this biography. fuck... I relate to his pain so profoundly. I don’t think he was anything special, personally, but I think his pain is almost universal. A sensitive, misunderstood, traumatized kid who needed love and found drugs and music instead. I’m sure if I ever met him, we wouldn’t have gott ...more
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it
I just finished reading HEAVIER THAN HEAVEN and I couldn’t have been more excited to talk about how much this book bugged me!! ⠀

First off, what I loved:⠀


He’s a legend. He’s always been one of my favorites and when he died, it was my first taste of loss and heart break. I loved reading more behind the scenes of his life, journal entries and music facts. And Frances! How much he loved that baby girl. ⠀

What I didn’t like (here we go!):⠀

The autobiographer, Charles Cross, seemed to
Daniel Solera
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Aurora Dimitre
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Hypia Sanches
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
[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
Brian James
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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Charles R. Cross

This is Charles R. Cross, 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 o

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