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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad account of one man's descent into opiate psychosis.
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...
Published on 10 Jun. 2002 by Caliaudio

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping account of the self destruction of a rock legend
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...
Published on 13 Nov. 2011 by angelwhite


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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad account of one man's descent into opiate psychosis., 10 Jun. 2002
By 
Caliaudio - See all my reviews
(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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping account of the self destruction of a rock legend, 13 Nov. 2011
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very moving and yet very disturbing, 29 Oct. 2003
By 
B. Tamlyn "tamo49" (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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I bought this book around 6 months ago, just to have something to read. Being a casual reader, my attention span is short when reading. However reading "Heavier than Heaven", I got thinking "maybe i should read alot more".

Kurt Cobain is one of my favourite musicians. Maybe for the music he made or maybe for the legend he left behind but he is my generations icon. This is a fantastic book which I am pleased to have read. From Kurts humble beginnings (which proved testing times for him personally and in his family) to his shocking suicide, the story just pulled my heart strings to a point I have never felt before. After finishing reading it many months ago, certain words and remarks from the book stick with me, especially the poignant ones which gives me a lump in my throat to this day. Charles R Cross has wrote this exceptionally well and each chapter has been crafted with great care. I was expecting some scathing remarks about Kurt, his family and friends but the author creates a very real telling of the events that Jurt went through. (Being the huge Kurt fan I am, I have watched, read, seen and researched as much as I could on him, so I feel confident with my statement)

There are certain things in this book that once you read them will go straight over your head such as the drug usuage and the way Courtney Love was racking her brains trying to find where Kurt had gone in his last few days. its when you put the book down and you just try to understand it more about the feelings and the torture of not knowing what has happened to Kurt. I guess you could say being in their shoes. It is a horrific thought to have to go through such pain but with the way the author described the scenes of anguish (and the joys) you truly feel as if you were the one it was happening to. I hope that you read this book and enjoy it as I have, but much more importantly, you understand that this was a troubled mind and talent that exploded with such force, he changed the world. Anyone who says he did not is a bare faced liar.

If he was here today, I really wonder what he would make of music today. Would he still be relevant? Would music be different or would NIrvana still be together? I feel that they probably would not and Dave Grohl may never have formed the Foo's. Im just happy I was alive when Nirvana and Kurt were around. It is the music of my youth and Heavier than Heaven takes me back to that time each time I read it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life seen from the endpoint, 19 Jun. 2012
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellently written, 7 Feb. 2012
By 
cross says he spent four years researching and interviewing for this book and it certainly shows. i've read other biographies (not just about kurt) and often the writer will fall into spending more time telling you what isn't known and speculating on gaps in the history than they do about telling what they have found out - not so with cross. it's extremely detailed (but not in a labourious way), full of incidents/anecdotes/interview quotes & paraphrasing and facts/informed opinions. it's so well written that it reads easily and smoothly; and cross shows a compassion for kurt and everyone involved without undue sentimentality or melodrama or judgement. this book has been criticised for the end which i too criticise - some of the details are simply untrue (such as saying cali was in the house when he wasn't) and cross does veer of into the realms of fiction when it comes to kurt's death. this latter part is not justified criticism though because unless you were there you can only really speculate as to the events, which cross does in such a convincing way - i was in tears over it. as to cross's bias - he claims he was in no way censored by courtney - i don't think he was but i do think he is very pro-courtney and did perhaps portray kurt's depression inclined side more than his up side; but cross did have unlimited access to kurt's personal affects/journals so perhaps kurt's downside was more prevalient than his up (though it would be easier to see it that way if you think of someone as an eventual suicide) despite some friends saying he was often fun. this book is worth buying.
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN,BUT IS IT ALL TRUE?, 1 July 2011
I will admit i really enjoyed this book,though i did wonder if Courtney was being painted as a nicer person than she actually is.
Have just read some really negative reviews claiming courney had a lot to do with this,and yes,i do wonder.
I'd say it's always been quite clear that Kurt wasn't a very happy guy inside,and it would seem likely that he often considered suicide.
I was willing to accept that this was the truth to the author's knowledge,but some stories may've been a little different to actuality. Now i wonder how much assuming or twisting of the truth was done.
I won't go back on my belief that this is a well written book,that i was very impressed by,but i suppose it is just another version of the whole Cobain story. And to be honest,i've always had a problem with Courtney's version,so if this has got a lot to do with her,perhaps it is a little tainted.
I suppose unless you were there at the time,you'll never know the full facts. It's a book that gets you thinking though.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This one or No-one!, 20 Sept. 2004
By 
M. Magowan "spudmeister" (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
There's no argument when it comes to this book, this is the definitive biography of Kurt Cobain. There are plenty of others, and they all have their strengths, but Charles R. Cross has managed to do it. Heavier than heaven has everything you need; facts, stories and information. It's obvious that we're dealing with someone who knows what he's talking about and has done his research.
Another great feature of this book is that Cross refuses to sugar coat anything, whereas other Cobain Biographies do!
This book will leave you feeling enlightened. Your perceptions of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana would have changed drastically, and you came you can feel irritatingly smug as you show off your new-found knowledge of Kurt Cobain (as I have many times).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biography Nirvana, 13 Feb. 2015
By 
I'll get the controversial bit out of the way right from the start: I never rated Nirvana. In fact, I count them as one of the most over-rated music acts in recent memory, if not ever. If it wasn't for all the controversy and the untimely suicide of lead singer Kurt Cobain, I don't think they would still be remembered now. Perhaps the endurance of their music is proof of the old adage that it's better to burn out than to fade away.

Whatever I may feel about his music, there was enough of interest in his life and death to make me curious enough when I came across Charles R. Cross' "Heavier Than Heaven". The other selling point, having just read a dreadful biography of Slash by Paul Stenning, was that this appeared to have the support and assistance of Cobain's family and friends. Indeed, on the cover it was praised for the depth of the research, which was something seriously lacking in Stenning's work.

Kurt's life begins in a small Washington State town where, at least to start, he seemed a normal, happy child. However, his parents' divorce made him feel unwanted and he suffered a huge sense of rejection when both later remarried, feeling he was no longer the major person in their lives. His sense of isolation from many of his peers at school and later outstaying his welcome with his parents and at friends' homes helped foster this.

This was a feeling that would haunt him for his entire life from this point, leaving him to doubt that anyone truly loved him. Throughout his young adulthood and his music career, he always felt unappreciated, even when playing to crowds of thousands who had all come to see him. This, in turn, led to relationships troubles with family and friends and resulted in heavy drug use to dull the emotional pain.

What immediately struck me about this book was the huge amount of detail it contains. Cross' research has encompassed virtually every member of Cobain's extended family and nearly everyone he was ever close to during his professional or personal lives. He has had seemingly unlimited access to Kurt's personal and private writings and this is reflected in the content here.

It seems as if there isn't a moment of Kurt's life that isn't accounted for in some way here. Considering how many of the people he spoke to had their own drug issues, this is quite incredible. Putting in this amount of research and effort makes this to most comprehensive book on an individual I ever recall reading, even compared to some history textbooks. I've never seen a biography with this level of detail and even autobiographies rarely cover the writer's life in this kind of depth, partly due to self-editing and largely due to lack of memory.

Given how dark Kurt's psychological state was for most of his life, this is a surprisingly readable book. This is a book that travels into the deepest, darkest recesses of Kurt Cobain's mind, which at times is a frightening place to be. Cross more than adequately describes how this darkness reflected into Cobain's life and from there into the lives of those closest to him. This does make it a slightly uncomfortable read at times, but that's not the author's fault in any way.

Equally is the slightly repetitive nature of the book. Once Nirvana achieve their success, Kurt's life revolves mostly around his work with the band and his drug taking. There are stories of tours and recording and Kurt's attempts to find drugs and attempts to get him into rehab, usually unsuccessfully. Whilst his lifestyle is frequently fascinating, especially the in depth psychological examination of it, even the traditional rock 'n' roll lifestyle of excess does get a little boring when it's repeated over and over.

The only aspect of this book that makes it slightly less interesting than many biographies is the lack of photographs. Considering the access Cross had to Cobain's family and, one would presume, to their photograph albums, there is a distinct lack of them here. Given that the book is printed in a relatively small type and does have these dark undertones, these would have help break things up a little. Such pictures aren't essential to a biography, but they would have added a little splash of colour which is obviously missing here and would have been very welcome.

Despite this, it's certainly the best researched biography I recall reading, covering a life in excellent and, at times, excruciating detail. It's dark and sometimes frightening to witness Cobain's descent into addiction and mental turmoil, but for someone with interests in both music and psychology that I have, it's also quite fascinating. For anyone wanting to see the darker side of fame, or anyone who liked Nirvana more than I did, this is an essential read.

This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charles R. Cross - Heavier Than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain | Review, 6 Jan. 2014
By 
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. Cross took his work seriously - he spent four years on the project, conducting hundreds of interviews and earning exclusive access to some of the people that refused to speak out for years.

Cross' writing is fluid and fun to read, and he paints a vivid picture that's easy to picture and absorb - I doubt it's 100% accurate in some places, but no biography ever could be. Even autobiographies are skewed, perhaps more so. Still, it's an interesting insight in to the heart, mind and soul of the man who captured the attention of a generation.

One thing that does get to me, though, is the way in which Cross speculates at what happened in the last hours of Cobain's life - that's questionable non-fiction at best, since nothing will ever be proven. Hell, there are people out there that think he's still alive, and I once found a website dedicated entirely to the 'Kurt was murdered' conspiracy. In my eyes, Cross should've left off when the facts were no longer known, then picked up again when his body was discovered, covering the aftermath.

But in the end, who cares? Now that you know that, you know to tread carefully - it's ground worth treading, if you're a Nirvana fan. Fantasy aside, there are plenty of little nuggets that had never been reported on before, at least to my knowledge. Just don't believe everything you read.

Of course, it helps that Cross himself is a well-respected journalist - he edited a well-known music magazine in Seattle for fifteen years, and he's penned a number of books covering everyone from Nirvana and Bruce Springsteen to Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, so he knows what he's talking about. On top of that, he's a competent writer with an eye for detail and human interest - you'll enjoy reading it alright, if you're a Nirvana fan. If you're not a Nirvana fan, why are you reading this review in the first place?
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