The BBC is to broadcast "a visceral account of the days that surrounded that tragic moment in 1994 when Kurt Cobain took his own life" to mark the 30th anniversary of the Nirvana frontman's death

Kurt Cobain
(Image credit: Frank Micelotta - Getty Images)

The BBC has announced plans to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the death of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain with a range of programming "that celebrates and remembers his life and musical legacy".

In a press release announcing the planned coverage on BBC Two, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6Music, the 'centrepiece' of the programming is said to be Moments That Shook Music: Kurt Cobain, a new 60 minute documentary offering "a visceral account of the days that surrounded that tragic moment in 1994 when Kurt Cobain took his own life". The exact date of the broadcast is not specified, other than to say it will be screened on a Saturday in April.

The press release states:

Now, one of musical history’s most shocking stories will be told as never before, as footage captured by local fans in Seattle and raw material from news crews reporting at the time are woven together, immersing the viewers in the events that unfolded, as they happened.

We see the poignant reaction from the electrician who discovered Kurt’s body when installing a security system at his Seattle home; statements from police at the scene; the chaos, confusion and devastation caught on video by his fans – including the moment a tape recording of an emotional Courtney Love reading her late husband’s final letter was played out to a crowd of thousands at a vigil in Seattle; and a revealing interview with Cobain himself, just months before he died.

Jonathan Rothery, Head of BBC Popular Music TV says: “Kurt Cobain’s life and death has turned into myth and legend since his passing. This documentary tries to demystify that moment in time by telling the story direct from the scene, via fly on the wall footage filmed by those that were there.”

Touchdown Films founder John Osborne, the producer and director of the documentary, says: “We are incredibly proud to be working with the BBC on this film, who share in our vision of using only archive to take viewers back to 1994; to immerse themselves in this seismic story. Kurt Cobain was the voice of a generation, but a reluctant one, and his death left a huge void. The only way to get a true sense of what happened is to witness it first hand, and that’s exactly what this film does. It never lets you look away.”

BBC2 will also screen the documentary When Nirvana Came To Britain, first broadcast in 2021, Foo Fighters at Reading 2019, and The Live Lounge Show, in which Clara Amfo takes viewers behind the scenes at Radio 1’s Live Lounge in a programme that features performances from Foo Fighters and more (first broadcast in 2017).

A selection of programmes dedicated to Kurt Cobain will also be available on BBC Sounds from Friday 5 April.

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.