"I still have very vivid images of him laughing, smiling, and goofing around": Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon remembers Nirvana's Kurt Cobain

Kim Gordon and Kurt Cobain
(Image credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images| Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

Kim Gordon, formerly the bassist/vocalist with Sonic Youth, has shared her memories of her friend Kurt Cobain as the 30th anniversary of the Nirvana frontman's death approaches.

Nirvana had huge respect for Gordon's band, with who they shared a management company, and the fact that the New York art-rock/alternative band made the transition from independent labels to major label record company Geffen with their integrity and artistic freedom wholly intact played a big part in Cobain's band signing to the same label ahead of the release of Nevermind. In the summer of 1991, Nirvana would premiere a number of songs from their then-still-forthcoming second album while supporting Sonic Youth in Europe, a tour famously documented by LA film-maker Dave Markey for release as 1991: The Year Punk Broke, and Cobain and Courtney Love remained close friends with Gordon and Thurston Moore.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the fact that the 30th anniversary of Cobain's death is coming next month is put to Gordon. 

"That is hard to believe, but it makes sense," she replies. "My daughter was born that year and she’s 29 now. I still have very vivid images of him laughing, smiling, and goofing around backstage. And doing these amazing shows, throwing himself into his drum kit. Really just going for it in a way I’d never seen anyone quite do." 

When writer David Browne mentions the fact that Nirvana merchandise is still hugely popular with consumers, Gordon replies, "Oh yeah. It cracks me up walking around and seeing people wearing that. Maybe they are into Nirvana. Maybe they’ve never heard of them!"

In his acclaimed memoir Sonic Life, Gordon's former bandmate and partner Moore recalled his first sighting of Nirvana, and remembers standing "agape and transfixed" by Cobain's band.

"It took all of an electric flash of a second to see how incredibly beautiful they were and how soul-shredding the music was," Moore wrote. "It would soon be clear that Nirvana was articulating something that connected not just with the punks but with the nerds, the freaks, the geeks, the losers, and the weirdos... It was going to be more than just cheap thrills, offering instead a radical reconsideration of musical expression at large."

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.