In March 1994, Cobain was rushed to hospital in Italy after overdosing on alcohol and drugs. He spent five days under medical care before being released, but at the time of his admission it was falsely reported that he’d died. He took his own life around five weeks later.
In his new memoir The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music (via the New York Post), Grohl revealed that he’d taken a call at home, in which he was told Cobain was dead. “My knees gave out and I dropped the phone as I fell to my bedroom floor, covering my face with my hands as I began to cry,” he wrote. “He was gone. The shy young man who had offered me an apple upon our first introduction at the Seattle airport was gone. My quiet, introverted roommate who I’d shared a tiny little apartment with in Olympia was gone. The loving father who played with his beautiful baby daughter backstage every night before each show was gone. I was overcome with a more profound sadness than I had ever imagined.”
A few minutes afterwards, Grohl received another call saying that Cobain had survived, and recalled feeling as if he’d been “born again.” But as a result of the experience, he added, “I built my walls higher” as protection against emotional extremes. That act tragically backfired on him when he was told just over a month later that Cobain truly was dead. “This time it was for real. He was gone,” Grohl said. “There was no second phone call to right the wrong. To turn the tragedy around. It was final.”
He said his grief was “stuck somewhere deep within me, blocked by the trauma from a month before when I had been left in a state of conflicted emotional confusion. … ‘Empathy!’ Kurt wrote in his suicide note, and there were times where I would beg my heart to feel the pain he must have felt. Ask for it to break. I would try to wring the tears from my eyes as I cursed those fucking walls I had built so high, because they kept me from the feelings I desperately needed to feel.”
In modern times, he added, it was the impact of the first call that still hit him hardest. “To this day I am often overcome with that same profound sadness that sent me to the floor the first time I was told Kurt had died,” he said. “But it’s when I sit down at a drum set that I feel Kurt the most,” Grohl continued, admitting that he thinks of his departed bandmate every day. “It’s not often that I play the songs that we played together, but when I sit on that stool, I can still picture him in front of me, wrestling with his guitar as he screamed his lungs raw into the microphone.”
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