"They were just nodding out in bed, just wasted. It was disgusting and gross": The night Dave Grohl finally realised that his Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were abusing heroin

Kurt, Courtney, Dave Grohl
(Image credit: Lindsay Brice/Getty Images | Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love first did heroin together in Amsterdam in November 1991 during Nirvana's European headline tour for Nevernmind.

"It was my idea," Cobain insisted to writer Michael Azerrad in an interview for his band's official biography Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. "I was the one that instigated it."

In a chapter titled 'Slam-Dancing with Mr. Brownstone', a knowing nod to track number five on Guns N' Roses' Appetite For Destruction, the three members of Nirvana discuss the impact of Cobain's heroin use upon their band in unflinchingly honest terms, their candour all the more remarkable for the fact that they were actually still a fully-functioning band at the time of the book's publication in September 1993. 

"I didn't realize that he was getting fucked up until Saturday Night Live [Nirvana first appeared on the hit TV show on January 11, 1992, the same day that Nevermind hit the top of the Billboard 200 album chart] just because I'm stupid and I just couldn't pick out something like that," Dave Grohl admitted. "I'm naive and didn't want to believe it."

"I remember walking into their hotel room and for the first time, really realizing that that these two are fucked up. They were just nodding out in bed, just wasted. It was disgusting and gross. It doesn't make me angry at them, it makes me angry that they would be so pathetic as to do something like that. I think it's pathetic for anyone to do something to make themselves that functionless and a drooling fucking baby."

Speaking to this writer in 2009, Grohl admitted, "See, I didn’t know anything about heroin. I barely knew anything about cocaine. My drug career was limited to heavy hallucinogenics and mountains of weed. I never did coke, I never did heroin, I didn’t fucking need speed… but also, in Virginia, none of us had any fucking money to buy drugs anyway. It was like, How am I gonna get high? You got any lighter fluid? Okay, put that on a fucking rag… that kind of shit. Even if we could have afforded heroin I can’t imagine us affording the fucking needles."

"I don’t know when Kurt started doing it, but evidently he was doing it while we lived together," he added, referring to the point where he was crashing on Cobain's couch in his Olympia, Washington apartment before the band recorded Nevermind. "But I was oblivious."

It was later revealed in Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven that Nirvana's frontman overdosed in his New York hotel room following Saturday Night Live. When Courtney Love found Cobain unconscious, she “threw cold water on her fiancé and punched him in the solar plexus so as to make his lungs begin to move air” wrote Charles Cross, saving Cobain's life. It was a dark potent of things to come.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.