On April 8, 1994, former MTV News correspondent Tabitha Soren was in Seattle, on assignment for NBC News. Early in the morning, she heard a rumor that the body of Kurt Cobain had been discovered in a house near Lake Washington, dead of an apparent self-inflicted shotgun blast to the head. Within an hour, she was one of a handful of reporters — and an ever-growing throng of stunned, heartbroken Nirvana fans — standing outside the ring of police tape at Cobain and Courtney Love’s gray clapboard home.
She was at the epicenter of one of the biggest tragedies in rock history … a death that changed everything. Here’s what she remembers, 15 years later:
“I was working on a story on heroin use in the Northwest for NBC. I was in a hotel, and I had a bunch of friends in common with Courtney Love, and those people informed me about what happened. … I was never in the inner circle. I mean, Courtney was convinced that I had it out for her, so I always got a lot of negativity from them. So, I was an outsider. An outsider just trying to get an interesting story that other people didn’t have. So I headed to Kurt and Courtney’s house, and when I got there, they still hadn’t pulled [Cobain's body] out of the greenhouse. There were tons and tons of fans there. No one could really believe what happened, and the last thing on earth that I wanted to do was re-victimize these kids who were already hurting. So I may have asked some of them some questions, I honestly don’t remember.
“Then I had to go to the coroner’s office and wait for the results of the autopsy, and it was like going from one hideous element to another. Having come from local news, I covered fires and funerals and meat-and-potatoes local news stories, but this was the first time I really felt like a vulture, because Kurt was important to me too. His death was a horrible waste, and I couldn’t believe that so many people so close to him who were so smart couldn’t save this guy. It was such a mess. … I was just really despondent. This was someone whose music moved me, and I’ve never been that close to the action … just staring at a house and there’s this little room inside and they’re pulling the body out and Courtney was reading this letter aloud for the fans … it was very, very sad. I can cover perp walks and shootings, no problem, because they’re different. Because I wasn’t quite as intimate with the people involved.
“I just remember thinking how huge of a loss this was, for everybody. I thought Nirvana was a great band — you could listen to the songs over and over again and hear something new each time. The songs grabbed you at the first listen, but then there was always something else … layers. There was a complexity there. His death was a tremendous loss. It was very sad. They were honest about their music, and they tried to share the spotlight with so many bands who they really loved and who they thought should be heard. There was a kindness and an honesty in that. It’s still impressive to me.”