By July 1993, Nirvana were huge, and Kurt Cobain was subject to an unprecedented, unasked-for level of fame and public scrutiny. In New York City to play the Roseland Ballroom and promote their new album In Utero, Nirvana consented to be photographed by Jesse Frohman — and Cobain gave a candid interview to punk historian Jon Savage — for an article in the Observer. No one involved could know that less than a year later, Cobain would be dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
It was one of the last photo shoots Nirvana ever did, and among the last interviews Cobain ever gave. Here, over twenty years after his death, they’re republished in full — including previously unpublished material — and bear witness to a pivotal moment in the history of rock’n’roll. New commentary from Frohman and Savage reveals what was going on behind the scenes that day, and an essay by pop culture maven Glenn O’Brien explores what Cobain and Nirvana meant to us then, and what their legacy will be.
Frohman’s one-hundred-plus photographs, which have since become iconic representations of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, get to the heart of one of the most beloved bands of all time, at the height of their success — and the moment when everything was starting to unravel.
We see Cobain as he was just months before his death, by turns feral and refined, alone and mucking around with his bandmates, engrossed in his music and always ambivalent about the spotlight. Savage’s interview reveals an optimistic side of Cobain seemingly at odds with his public image, and particularly poignant as we look back on his life.
Jesse Frohman began his career as an assistant for the legendary photographer Irving Penn. His work has appeared in many major magazines, including Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, V Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Interview, Rolling Stone and Spin.