A year after death, no burial for Cobain

July 05, 1995|By Gene Stout | Gene Stout,Seattle Post-Intelligencer

There's no rest for grunge-rock martyrs, as Courtney Love has discovered. She can't find a suitable place to bury the ashes of her late husband, Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana.

Of the two Seattle cemeteries she has approached, one has turned her down, citing security concerns, and the other wants at least $100,000 a year to cover the costs of full-time security to protect the cemetery and grave site. That's in addition to a $75,000 tombstone the cemetery wants her to buy.

"I don't have that kind of money, and Kurt didn't have that kind of money," said Ms. Love, who sings for the band Hole.

Since Cobain's April 1994 suicide at the couple's Seattle home ++ on Lake Washington Boulevard, fans from around the world have streamed to neighboring Viretta Park to pay homage to the late singer, songwriter and guitarist, who helped change the course of rock 'n' roll in the early '90s.

Visitors bring flowers and candles and gaze at the garage where Cobain killed himself.

"Some of them are fine, decent people that have no place to go," Ms. Love said. "Some have come here from Sweden or Belgium %% or wherever."

Others are more aggressive, carving messages into the park bench or cutting through the fence that separates the park from the house.

Ms. Love, who is purchasing another home in New Orleans, was forced to hire round-the-clock security. "You should see the bench in the park next to my house. It looks like [Doors singer] Jim Morrison's grave," Ms. Love said.

"I can't have this going on. I can't be spending this much on guards every month. If I sell the house, the same thing's going to happen to anyone who moves in here."

Last winter, Ms. Love approached Lake View Cemetery, the final resting place for members of many of Seattle's pioneer families as well as movie stars Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon Lee.

But Lake View turned her down, she said.

Dean Mathiesen, Ms. Love's personal assistant, said, "Their reason was that they already had their hands full with Bruce Lee and Brandon being buried there, and they couldn't take on another celebrity."

In fact, Ms. Love preferred Calvary Catholic Cemetery because of its spectacular setting north of the University of Washington and its views of the city. Earlier this year, she arranged to purchase a grave site there.

"We had chosen a really nice tombstone, a really nice setup in a new area that [Calvary] had just opened up, and we would be at the top," Mr. Mathiesen said. "They were going to put a garden in around it. They helped us create this elaborate, beautiful monument. But when it came down to it, the monument was like $50,000 to $75,000. Courtney didn't want to do it."

Ms. Love had envisioned a simpler tombstone, costing about $20,000.

But in early June, she said, Associated Catholic Cemeteries, representing Calvary, faxed her a sketch of its proposal for a lavish memorial featuring a 4-foot-high angel with a 6-foot wingspan.

L "It was so tacky," Ms. Love said. "It had Kurt's face on it."

Then, after she turned down Calvary's proposal, things began to go sour.

Last week, attorney Patrick Crowley, representing the cemetery, sent her a letter threatening to cancel the original purchase agreement if Ms. Love did not agree to pay at least $100,000 a year to cover the estimated costs of security, maintenance and repair for the memorial.

John McCoy, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, said the cemetery's policy was to accept anyone who wanted to be buried there but that accepting Cobain's ashes would "present the cemetery with some security and crowd-control problems."

"We want to preserve the sacred quality of the cemetery as a place for solace and prayer and meditation," Mr. McCoy said. "It's not a gathering ground for rock performances. They can't show up in numbers we can't accommodate."

In his letter to Ms. Love, Mr. Crowley said she had misrepresented her reason for wishing to bury Cobain's ashes at Calvary. "It has recently come to our attention that the real reason for making the purchase was that other cemeteries had refused to sell burial space," Mr. Crowley said in the letter. "It does not appear that the Catholic character of the cemetery had anything to do with the selection."

Ms. Love said she had approached only two cemeteries, Lake View and Calvary.

The letter from Mr. Crowley continues:

"Recent articles in magazines and newspapers quoting Courtney Love have made these inconsistencies a matter of public record. They have forced the management of Calvary Cemetery to reconsider its position."

It was in a profile in the June issue of Vanity Fair that Ms. Love revealed her plan to bury Cobain's ashes at Calvary:

"I was thinking at one point: Because he loved [Seattle] so much, would Kurt want to go to New Orleans? When people go and make their pilgrimage, would they like to go to New Orleans? Mmmmm . . . no. I guess Seattle will stay the mecca for drugs and Kurt Cobain."

Ms. Love and her assistant said they will keep looking for a suitable site for Cobain's ashes.

"We were really happy when we found Calvary. . . . It's very beautiful up there, and the space overlooks the city," Mr. Mathiesen said. "We didn't choose it out of desperation.

"Now we'll have to go back to the drawing board."

%%

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.