Fame begets fame: That’s one lesson Kurt Cobain took pleasure in teaching. Post-punk’s first true superstar pioneered the concept of spreading the wealth, paying more than lip service to those bands to whom he owed a musical or imaginative debt. Whether by wearing a Daniel Johnston T-shirt to the MTV Video Music Awards or by inviting the Meat Puppets to join his Unplugged performance, Cobain transformed Nirvana’s uncomfortable clout into concrete results for a slew of struggling indie heroes. The canon according to Kurt:
Cobain agreed to record a split single with Chicago’s most respected bludgeoning-guitar act in pre-Nevermind 1990, and his efforts ensured that the limited-edition 1993 single came out on the needy Chicago-based indie label Touch & Go. The 7-inch sold out all 100,000 copies, and Lizard now headlines 1,000-seat venues.*The Raincoats.
Cobain wrote of his search for the flbum by this seminal, all-female, British punk trio in the liner notes to Nirvana’s Incesticide. The group, defunct for more than a decade, re-formed to open for Nirvana’s British tour in February and has been signed to DGC.
The Vaselines: This Scottish band was fronted by Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, whom Cobain called ”the Lennon and McCartney of the underworld”; Cobain even named his daughter after McKee. Atlantic signed Kelly’s new band, Eugenius, partially on Cobain’s recommendation.
Melvins: Cobain was a roadie for this Aberdeen, Wash., trio, now regarded as the progenitors of the Seattle sound. He coproduced their Atlantic debut, Houdini, which sold 65,000 copies, three times as many as its predecessor. Says drummer Dale Crover, ”They talked about us in about every interview they did, and it definitely didn’t hurt.”
Meat Puppets: ”I’m trying to keep people from throwing these testimonials around because they’re embarrassing to me,” said Curt Kirkwood of Cobain’s praise before Nirvana’s Unplugged performance. No chance. Released soon after, the Puppets’ second major-label album, Too High to Die, became their first gold record, landing them airplay for the first time on Top 40.