In 2000, on the cover of the two volumes of the first edition of the Dictionary of rock , the Beatles and Rolling Stones shared the spotlight. In the frontispiece of the new version of the book, just published (Editions Robert Laffont, collection “Books”), Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain were replaced. Two guitarists left-handed Seattle of course, but especially two legends of rock missing at the age of 27 years.

the Two heroes absolute in this music, transformed into symbols of the promise of freedom and intensity that véhicula a long time this culture, which has become institutionalised at the turn of the new century. In his remarkable book entitled Retromania (Editions The Word and the Rest), the music critic Simon Reynolds was the realization that popular music was doomed to be repeated in the future. As if nothing could go beyond what had been produced in fifty years, since the mid-1950s until the early nineties.

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Cobain always represents the figure archétypique of the artist gone young with unfulfilled promises.

For many, Kurt Cobain, who killed himself April 5, 1994 at his home in Seattle, embodies the figure of the last rock star. In the two decades that followed his disappearance, the man became a true icon, as the embodiment of artistic purity not still beset by money. “Cobain has acquired a status that exceeds that of a big star to access what is Bob Marley, in the sense that we almost forgot they were making music to make emblems”, explained the photographer Youri Lenquette, close to the group, on the occasion of the twenty years of the death of the singer. Even more than Jim Morrison or Janis Joplin, and carried them also in the flower of age, Cobain always represents the figure archétypique of the artist gone young with unfulfilled promises.

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In his lifetime, this child of the working class american, raised by divorced parents was already considered a hero, unwillingly. After having dethroned Michael Jackson for the first place of the charts with the album Nevermind , Kurt Cobain and his two associates (Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic) were considered as real cattle fair, the subjects of attention. “The paradox is that he had done everything to become a rock star and he hated it at the time of the becoming,” added the journalist Laurence Romance in 2014.

“He had a hard time to collect the fame, which is a problem when it is considered as the spokesman of a generation”

Youri Lenquette

Not a paradox almost, Kurt Cobain, who protected it fiercely for its independence and suspicious of the institutional press, told Michael Azerrad – a collaborator of the powerful Rolling Stone – care to sign the official biography of the group. This ambivalence vis-à-vis the fame and success, Cobain will be in it until the end of his life. Incapable of cynicism, it will struggle with the imperatives of the system with a beautiful fierceness. “He had refused the invitation to perform as part of the Lollapalooza festival for a fee of $ 9 million,” says Laurence Romance. A decision unthinkable today, as the collapse of record sales has forced the artists to run the stamp and giving concerts constantly.

At the time where the smallest group is fighting for his music to be used in a promotional context, this posture is a dimension of romance that is not for nothing, in the worship with the singer and guitarist. “It was a guys shy and reserved, which was experiencing difficulties to speak in public, testify Lenquette. It was difficult to collect the celebrity that is problematic when it is considered as the spokesman of a generation”.

Amy Winehouse, found dead in her home at the age of 27 she, too, will never be an object of worship as fanatical as the leader of Nirvana. If the rock scene has spawned a lot of bands and artists exciting in twenty-five years, no one has dimension heroic Kurt Cobain, who carries with him the stigma of a lost world and the ideals of a generation whose dreams are shattered on the hard reality of today. “The marketing machine has become so powerful that it swallows anything at the end of six months,” concludes Youri Lenquette about this the other deadly poison. And from Bob Dylan to Mick Jagger, via Jimmy Page, or Paul McCartney, the stars age like everyone else ; better than all the world, would be tempted to say…

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