Kurt Cobain was one of the most iconic artists of the 90s. All the best musical stories overseas in those years started from a garage. Even that of the Nirvana band, fronted by the boy from Aberdeen, started this way. The story of a photographer, on the other hand, begins with an improvised darkroom for the development of the shots.
But Jesse Frohman’s career, compared to that of Kurt, got off to a much luckier start thanks to an important and well-known mentor, Irving Penn, the legendary New York photographer brother of the famous director Arthur. He taught him all the shooting techniques (regarding both stationary and moving subjects) and every light secret he knew.
Kurt Cobain and Jesse were geographically located at opposite poles of a nation, the former living in the New Liverpool of the time, that of Sub Pop Culture with the record label founded by Bruce Pavitt. While the second in New York, the city that never sleeps, and immediately ended up working for various magazines including: Vanity Fair, Vogue, Bazaar, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone and many others.
On November 23, 1993, Nirvana arrived in the big apple to promote their album In Utero at the Roseland Ballroom.
Before the concert, Jesse made an appointment with the band to take some photos commissioned by The Sunday Times Magazine of London. Kurt Cobain showed up three hours late blasting all the programs. The situation was tense because the shots, for a matter of time, couldn’t be set in Central Park but at the hotel where the band would stay overnight.
They cleared the entire basement and set up the lights in record time. However, the first thing Kurt asked, shortly after walking through the doorway wearing Jackie O‘s white glasses, was a bucket to throw up. So the glasses could not be removed for any reason in the world!
For a photographer, shooting without interacting with the subject’s eyes is extremely difficult. Finding the synergy to be immortalized without this element is unnatural.
Time began to pass quickly and the pressure on Jesse’s fingers grew heavier with each impromptu shot.
Striped jacket, red nail polish on the fingers and a constantly burning cigarette.
Eventually Jesse was able to portray Kurt as he really was. What you perceive from the photos of him is just a spontaneity outside the lines. This has made him one of the most influential artists of this century.
These were the last shots before his death. Kurt Cobain committed suicide in the greenhouse of his home on Lake Washington in Seattle on April 5, 1994, throwing a generation into despair.
A garage like many others, like the one that started his love for music as a boy. After his death, these shots were discarded from all magazines precisely because of the sunglasses, but think about it, it is this detail that encompasses the entire beauty of his personality. Let’s enjoy in our Monday Song the most beautiful good ones of Nirvana obviously interpreted by Kurt Cobain.