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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

April 5, 1994

Welcome to the first Tuesday Timeline for the month of April.  You probably have noticed that I haven't been writing in this blog as often as I once did.  I'm saving up my energies for the upcoming 5th anniversary of this blog coming up in May where I will promise you one brand new entry for all thirty-one days in May.  So, I figure I can afford to coast through this month in preparation.

So today is April 5th, and there really is only one topic that I feel as though I want to discuss in this blog.  Some of you may already know what that topic is given the date, but for those of you who don't know, I'll be talking about it very soon.  Before we do that though, let's have a look at some of the events that happened on this date throughout history.

1614 - Pocahontas marries English colonist John Rolfe

1621 - The Mayflower sets sail from Plymouth, Massachusetts on return to England

1722 - Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen discovers Easter Island

1862 - The Battle of Yorktown begins

1900 - Actor Spencer Tracy (d. 1967) is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1908 - Actress Bette Davis (d. 1989) is born in Lowell, Massachusetts

1909 - James Bond movie producer Albert R. Broccoli (d. 1996) is born in Queens, New York

1916 - Actor Gregory Peck (d. 2003) is born in San Diego, California

1922 - Actor Christopher Hewett (d. 2001) is born in Worthing, Sussex, England

1933 - Actor Frank Gorshin (d. 2005) is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1944 - German troops execute 270 citizens of Kleisoura, Greece during World War II

1949 - Fireside Theatre debuts on television the same day that a devastating fire engulfs an Illinois hospital, killing 77 people

1951 - Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are sentenced to death for spying for the Soviet Union

1956 - Fidel Castro declares war on then current Cuban President Fulgencio Batista

1969 - Massive anti-war protests take place in cities across the United States denouncing America's involvement in the Vietnam War

1976 - The Tiananmen Incident takes place in the People's Republic of China

1986 - Three are killed and several hundred injured following a deadly bombing at a discotheque in Berlin

1992 - The Siege of Sarajevo begins

1998 - The largest suspension bridge in the world - The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge - opens to the public

2005 - Actress Debralee Scott passes away, aged 52

2006 - Singer/songwriter Gene Pitney dies, aged 66

2008 - Actor Charlton Heston dies at the age of 84

2010 - Twenty-nine coal miners in West Virginia lose their lives after an explosion occurs at the Upper Big Branch Mine

2015 - Actor Richard Dysart passes away, aged 86

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following turning another year older - Mary Costa, Colin Powell, Gilles Proulx, Michael Moriarty, Allan Clarke, Max Gail, Fighting Harada, Jane Asher, Russell Davies, Dave Holland, Agnetha Faltskog, Stan Ridgway, Diamond Dallas Page, Greg Mathis, Christopher Reid, Mike McCready, Troy Gentry, Paula Cole, Thea Gill, Krista Allen, Waylon Payne, Pharrell Williams, Juicy J, Robert Glasper, Tom Riley, Hayley Atwell, Marshall Allman, Lily James, and Emmalyn Estrada.

And now for today's date.

April 5, 1994.  And yes, I do remember where I was on that date.

If memory serves me, I was just wrapping up seventh grade.  I was starting to develop a love for Mad Libs and word games and an intense hatred for seventh grade algebra.  I still maintain that math would be more fun if it just stuck to numbers.  And this was in the era BEFORE common core math really made everyone think that math was evil.

Another thing that I remember was the fact that grunge music was HUGE that year.  In between Ace of Base taking over with "The Sign" and Toni Braxton and Babyface cornering the R&B market, you had bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, and countless other bands that mixed heavy metal, rock and roll, and alternative music to create the grunge sound.  I'll admit, being a twelve going on thirteen year old at that time, I had a lot of preteen angst, so I may have listened to a song or two or fifty that could be classified as grunge.

Perhaps the leaders of the grunge movement at that time was the band Nirvana, which formed in Seattle in 1987.  Over the next few years, the group (made up of Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl, and several other musicians) released quite a few albums, and had several singles that could be considered teenage anthems of the early 1990s.

Songs such as "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Heart Shaped Box" and "The Man Who Sold The World" became instant successes and catapulted the band to stardom.  By the beginning of 1994, it seemed as though nothing could stop the band's success.

Nothing except the lingering depression that lead singer Kurt Cobain faced most of his life.

Despite having major success with Nirvana, as well as finding love with Hole lead singer Courtney Love and fathering a child with her, there were lots of things in his life that he could not control.  As a child, Cobain had issues with bronchitis and suffered from an undiagnosed stomach condition that caused him physical pain.  To cope with the pain, he turned to drugs and alcohol, and by the time he was married to Love, he was a full blown heroin addict, having several instances in which his drug use nearly killed him on more than one occasion.  Despite a couple of attempts to clean himself up, Cobain always relapsed.

But even worse than the drug abuse that Cobain put himself through was the fact that he had crippling depression as a child and as an adult.  It was alleged that suicide had run in the family - Kurt's cousin reportedly had two of her relatives take their own lives - and while Kurt's depression was likely translated into song on more than one occasion, nobody really understood just how bad it was for him.

At least not until April 5, 1994.

That was the date that Kurt Cobain drew his last breath according to the coroners who examined his body.  His body was actually discovered on April 8 by an electrician who had stopped by his home to install a security system.  The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head.

Kurt Cobain was only 27 years old.

His detailed suicide note was broadcast all over the media (which you can Google if you want to read it - I won't post it here), and his widow Courtney, admonished him at a public memorial scheduled for April 10 while reading the note.  I would imagine that after Cobain's suicide, it triggered Courtney's own addictions which nearly killed her on several occasions - but that's another story for another time.

You know, I still remember hearing the news as if it happened yesterday.  While I was not a big Nirvana fan at the time, I did like a couple of their songs.  I know quite a few people at my school were quite shocked and saddened by the death and there was a lot of Nirvana played at school dances for quite some time after his suicide.

But the writing was on the wall for months.  It was not a matter of if Kurt Cobain would commit suicide, but when.  He had been on a downward spiral for months prior to the suicide, and while I wished that he could have found a way to seek treatment before he came to the conclusion that death was the only way out, I can't begin to try to understand where he was at on that day.  Depression affects people differently, and it's not anyone's call to try and analyze it.  Kurt was sick.  He needed help.  And the sad part is that he never got it.  Some may say that some people in his life enabled him to keep using drugs even though they were very destructive. 

I often wonder what might have happened if Kurt Cobain were still alive.  Would he have finally gotten the help he needed?  Would Nirvana still have trudged along and still released records?  It's hard to say, really.  I suppose we'll never really know.

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