With the recent release of Montage of Heck and the conspiracy documentary Soaked in Bleach, the death of Kurt Cobain has seen a resurgence of media coverage recently. The latest tidbit comes from an unlikely source, a new biography about Alice In Chains, but reveals an interesting notion about Courtney Love’s initial reaction to her late husband’s death.
According to a new book called Alice In Chains: The Untold Story, Love reached out to AIC frontman Layne Staley to see if he was with the Nirvana frontman in the days leading up to his apparent suicide. As revealed in the below excerpt (via Stereogum), Love was initially unconvinced that the death was a suicide. She wanted to see if Layne, with whom Cobain had been known to do heroin, knew anything that could aid the investigation.
“A few weeks after Cobain’s death, Jim Elmer [Layne Staley’s stepfather] got a call from Courtney Love. She had been trying to get ahold of Layne and somehow got Elmer’s phone number. According to him, they spoke twice. ‘The gist of the conversation was that she was looking for Layne because she knew Layne and Kurt were friends and wanted to find out what happened the last few days, that she intimated to me that she was not happy with the outcome that it was a suicide. She thought there was more to it than that, and she wanted to chase down Layne and have a discussion with him.’
“Love was probably assuming that because Cobain and Layne ran in the same social circles — musicians, drug users, and drug dealers — he might have seen Cobain or have some knowledge of his final days. Whether Layne saw Cobain during his final days is not known, but there is evidence of at least one mutual drug connection.”
A separate passage from the book notes that Staley himself had doubts that Cobain would have taken his own life:
‘I saw all the suffering that Kurt Cobain went through,’ Layne would recall. ‘I didn’t know him real well, but I just saw this vibrant person turn into a real shy, timid, withdrawn, introverted person who could hardly get a hello out.’ Layne’s private views were skeptical of the official story. ‘Layne was a little more vocal on the Kurt issue, because he never thought Kurt would take his own life,’ Jeff Elmer said. ‘He mentioned that multiple times, about that issue, that he never did believe it. And so this was not right after he died, this was years after, too. He still remembered that and just thought that was not characteristic of Kurt.'”
Staley and Cobain’s relationship was minimal, though it appeared to revolve around heroin in particular. The New York Daily News notes an infamous trip to Brazil where the two rockers conspired to get heroin shipped into the country; Cobain would front for the drugs and Staley would pay for the deliver. In fact, the Daily News says it was this transaction that set the stage for AIC bassist Mike Starr’s momentary death:
“That night, Alice In Chains bassist Mike Starr, who had just been tossed from the band, claimed he actually died and came back as he bounced from shooting up with one famed musician to the other.
‘Layne shot me up first a couple of times. Then Kurt shot me, and then Layne shot me after that and I died, for like 11 minutes.'”
Recently, the former Seattle police chief who worked the Cobain case said he thought the case surrounding the singer’s death should be reopened. “If we didn’t get it right the first time, we damn well better get it right the second time,” he said in an interview from Soaked in Bleach. “And I would tell you right now if I were the Chief of Police, I would reopen this investigation.”