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Heavier Than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain (Scepte 21's) [Paperback]

Charles R. Cross
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 Jun 2002 Scepte 21's
Alongside the death of Elvis Presley and the assassination of John Lennon, Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994 ranks as one of the generational milestones of American life - an epochal event in both rock 'n' roll and youth culture. This book is the story of Kurt Cobain's life, from abject poverty to unbelievable wealth, power and fame. It traces the journey from his humble origins in Aberdeen to becoming lead singer of Nirvana, the most popular rock band in the world from 1991 to 1994, and the most influential band of the decade. The beautifully written text is complemented by 16 pages of photographs.

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Heavier Than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain (Scepte 21's) + Kurt Cobain: Journals + This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New Ed edition (20 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340739398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340739396
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The art of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was all about his private life, but written in a code as obscure as TS Eliot's. In Heavier than Heaven Charles Cross has cracked the code, and this definitive biography is 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 revealing an unreleased Nirvana masterpiece. At last we know how he created, how lies helped him die, how his family and love life entwined with his art--plus, what the heck "Smells Like Teen Spirit" really means. (It was graffiti by Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna after a double date with Dave Grohl, Cobain, and the "over-bored and self-assured" Tobi Vail, who wore Teen Spirit perfume; Hanna wrote it to taunt the emotionally clingy Cobain for wearing Vail's scent after sex--a violation of the no-strings-attached dating ethos of the Olympia, Washington, "outcast teen" underground. Cobain 's stomach-churning passion for Vail erupted in six or so hit tunes like "Aneurysm" and "Drain You".) Cross uncovers plenty of news, mostly grim and gripping. As a teenager, Cobain said he had "suicide genes" and his clan was peculiarly defiant: one of his suicidal relatives stabbed his own belly in front of his family, then ripped apart the wound in the hospital. Cobain was contradictory: a sweet, popular teenage athlete and sinister berserker, a kid who rescued injured pigeons and laughingly killed a cat, a talented yet astoundingly morbid visual artist. He grew up to be a millionaire who slept in cars (and stole one), a fiercely loyal man who ruthlessly screwed his oldest, best friends. Cross, the co-author of Nervmind: Nirvana, the definitive book about the making of the classic album, puts numerous Cobain-generated myths to rest. (Cobain never lived under a bridge--that Aberdeen bridge immortalised in the 12th song on Nevermind was a tidal slough, so nobody could sleep under it). He gives the fullest account yet of what it was like to be, or love, Kurt Cobain. Heavier than Heaven outshines the also indispensable Come As You Are. It's the deepest book about pop's darkest falling star. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


This superbly researched and harrowing book...The squalor is ghastly but the sheer sadness of Cobain's brief life is beautifully conveyed here. Cross has painstakingly accumulated a wealth of telling detail... (Robert Sandall in THE SUNDAY TIMES)

Cross's research is impeccable... he writes with a fine mixture of sympathy and sense, weeding the myth of all its lies and exaggerations, but never minimising the complexity of his subject. HEAVIER THAN HEAVEN is, or should be, the last word on Kurt Cobain. (Lynn Barber in the DAILY TELEGRAPH)

I was very glad to read this biography, the result of four years' research and 400 interviews, not to mention the sainted Kurt's police and medical records AND his unpublished journals. I was in hog heaven all the way through - in a caring, wistful way, of course. (Julie Birchill in THE GUARDIAN)

A biography worth reading. The book is especially good once we get past Cobain's squalid early years to the moment when he suddenly wakes up to find himself the most famous pop star in the world. (James Delingpole in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Cross's portrayal of a shy but prodigiously gifted child, in artistic as well as musical terms, is a joy to read (THE OBSERVER)

The secret here is that Cross was allowed unprecedented access to Cobain's world; his diaries, artworks and most significantly the people who surrounded him. Cross may vividly depict the seemingly inevitable demise of a rock star but he also successfully conveys just what all the fuss was about in the first place. (THE LIST)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
By Caliaudio VINE VOICE
Charles Cross's popular biography of Kurt Cobain is alarming reading. I read Michael Azzerad's Come As You Are back in '94 and remember an acutely different tale. Azzerad was fortunate enough to have had extensive interviews with Cobain, unlike Cross, and his book is strikingly disimilar to this.
Ultimately, I think Cross's account is the more accurate of the two. It is also somewhat different in tone, being a biography of Kurt Cobain, not Nirvana. Cross pulls no punches, and his book is the better for it.
Cobain's duplicity as recorded here is astonishing. This is a compelling account of a man who desparately sought fame and recognition, who invented a history for himself barely worse than his actual past and, inevitably, this is a story of serious drug abuse.
The second half of the book - detailing the years 1991 to 1994 - is overwhelmingly concerned with Cobain's addiction to heroin. Contrary to popular belief, the singer was rarely clean for more than a few weeks during the last three years of his life. This is not light reading; it is the painful account of a young man's weakness and mental decay.
Throughout the book, Courtney Love is respectfully portrayed by Cross as a loving wife and supporter of Cobain. No doubt this is true in some respects, but you get the impression Cross backed-off detailing much of Love's character. In return she provided him with access to Kurt's diaries, some entries from which are published here. It was a reasonable trade-off, I suppose, but not terrific journalism.
Interesting and often horrific, Heavier Than Heaven is a valuable biography for its honesty, and the only essential piece of writing on Cobain so far. Recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Where this book really scores is in the portrayal of Cobain's troubled early life and his years before fame. The seeds were sown for what was to follow, his inability to come to terms with almost overnight mega stardom. In being terrified by being regarded as the spokesperson for a generation there are obvious comparisons with Dylan, almost 30 years earlier. But unlike Dylan, the disturbed Cobain lacking mental strength and a stable background, was unable to ride out the storm. Coupled with undiagnosed health problems, heroin addiction preceded his suicide.

My reservations concerning the latter part of the book result from the major input of Courtney Love. It is very tainted. With all of her own demons she could not have provided the support Cobain so desperately required. This does not come through in the book.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, emotional, thought-provoking 24 Jun 2002
This book was very informative, and I learnt a lot of things about Kurt Cobain that I never knew before. It was sad to read about how he felt like he didn't belong anywhere, and had a lot of turmoil involving his family. It brought a smile to my face when I read that Kurt used to like sledding down a hill near his home as a child, but as the book went on it became sadder and sadder because of his downwards spiral in life. The suicide was written in such deal and with such care that upon finishing the book I was in tears, and I wasn't the only one - so was one of my friends who has also read the book. I would recommend this book to anybody who has an interest in Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, or just music in general as it is a fascinating insight into what made him the legend that he is today. A fitting tribute to a man who changed the face of music forever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly saddening 13 Mar 2005
What a book!
I bought this book as i was getting into Kurt's music, i had heard alot about him and i could feel the expression and the pain in his music but i wanted to find out more, so i bought this book.
It tells you everything you want to know about his childhood, then, when his parents split up, it is almost as if that was a turning point in his life, he got on drugs and his life fell apart. It tells about him forming the band, and how he wanted to die, ever since he was a child, this book is truly disturbing, in a good way, now every time i hear kurt's music, i shiver, i read this book in 1 and a half days, that's how good it is!!!
If you want to understand kurt Cobain properly, you have to read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life seen from the endpoint 19 Jun 2012
By seanjm
kurt Cobain will remain an iconic figure for years to come and this biography will be a cornerstone book for those wanting to know more.
Cobains story , small town boy , unhappy family , rock star, drugs , multi million seller , drugs , superstar , drugs , suicide...of course the problem with this book is we know how it ends , and that creates a prism through which his life is seen. Cross recreates the speed at which life must have moved for Cobain in the early 90s as though he was there. Somehow though everything seems written to justify the end , although I feel Cross puts too much emotion on the break up of Cobains mother and father as a telling event for all subsequent events. Most people whose parents divorce don't turn to heroin and blow their brains out. This book never really gets to a point of understanding this.
Why does Cobain turn to heroin ? I'm still unclear.
Why does Cobain get portrayed in a clear and good mood in early 1994 then commit suicide weeks later ?
How does Cobain reconcile wanting to be a better parent with heroin abuse and suicide ?

But of course we know how it ends , and this overrides the judgements . I was left at the end of the book feeling that Cobain was neither nice or appealing. What I found fascinating was that all the warning signs of behavior received either in appropriate or no intervention. The cries for help were loud , yet no one wanted to listen. The musical legacy will survive , the question of why still hangs in the air.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read
If you're interested in Kurt Cobain or a fan you'll really like this book. It has a lot in it that isn't very well known to the public & tells the truth about various rumours about... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Snejina Tzanev
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written biography of Cobain
Charles Cross has been criticised that he fabricated some of the book, because he wasn't there in Cobain's final days. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Colonel Decker
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete and harrowing account
If you have ever wished to get a grip on who Kurt Cobain was and what drove him to his suicide then this book has to be read
In a beautiful piece of writing the author has... Read more
Published 1 month ago by john
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read
I received this book for Christmas as I am a huge Nirvana fan, and love to read. I had been looking forward to reading it for quite some time, and found that once I picked it up I... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Molly Joyner
4.0 out of 5 stars Charles R. Cross - Heavier Than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain |...
Heavier Than Heaven is probably the most accurate portrait of Kurt's life on the market, and boy are there a lot of them on the market. Read more
Published 3 months ago by SocialBookshelves.com
4.0 out of 5 stars A very readable biography of the life of Kurt Cobain
A very readable account of Kurt's passage from happy boy to troubled teen to disturbed adult, who despite the love and acceptance of his family, friends and fans could never love... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars !
I enjoyed every word of the book. Couldn't put it down since I started.
recommended to everyone who likes biography books.
Published 4 months ago by Gintautas
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
A must have for any Kurt Cobain's fans. Very emotional and beautifully written, I strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in finding out what led to Kurt's death...
Published 4 months ago by Bambola
4.0 out of 5 stars Four years of work
An epic journey for Cross and the reader, a very thorough piece. An insight into the life of the boy and the man. Read more
Published 5 months ago by E. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
This book is definitely worth the money, everything you would want to know about Kurt Cobain is in there. Loved it!
Published 5 months ago by Kstewart
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