The best existing summary for the camp arguing Kurt Cobain was murdered is found at the well-meaning Justice for Kurt site. Take a look. While I respect the efforts of the site’s creators who have effectively synthesised what was an increasingly sprawling online presence for this side of things what still strikes me is the updates made since 2001 to the site are predominantly hearsay (“so and so says…”) or marketing for commercial product based on the murder theory. I think that’s a fair summary of what I think there is to show for near on twenty years investigation. The site is at least good for drawing together a lot of the primary source material available.
Anyways, returning to Who Killed Kurt Cobain, the introduction of Tom Grant doesn’t help much. While setting him up as the skilled and intrepid seeker of truth with the detective background they have to admit that this was a gentleman who failed to last longer than seven years in professional policing and where, while they state he was a rising star detective the biggest quote they can find is he was a “very good patrol deputy.” My second disquiet is the first appearance of Mr. Grant involves the very deliberate scenes in which he turns down work and states “…I’m not much of a businessman…That’s illegal. I don’t work like that. A lot of P.I.s will do it, but not me.” The authors’ intent in writing this scene is to create a character, one who is above pure commercial motivations and whose integrity is without question; yet, this is exactly the kind of staging that he accuses Love of doing to him. Either the authors or Grant himself have decided to set up a tableau for the reader in which he turns down work for reasons that serve the book’s plot.
The finest example of simultaneously creating the hero image and simultaneously not permitting truth to get in the way of the accusations comes on page 264-265 where they state “Grant has refused countless financial offers to tell his stories” — impossible to prove — then on the next page go with the very provable reality that Grant has charged money and accepted donations since 1997 but it’s OK because if he didn’t then “Courtney wins.” So, the statement on page 264 is palpably untrue given the overall and very definite flow of money to Grant. The fact the authors of this book have made money off the murder theory is also true but there’s no discussion of their own financial benefit from the tale nor of whether the reporting of Grant’s claims and material via them is bringing benefit to him whether directly or in publicity. Also, just to check here, he’s been accepting contributions for sixteen years now and yet when I look at Mr. Grant’s website (http://www.cobaincase.com/) the evidence hasn’t changed since this book came out — that’s a stunning track record for all that money and such a lonnnng investigation.
The mercurial Mr. Grant claims he has evidence linking Courtney to her husband’s death but “he is saving it until the case is reopened by the FBI”. Twenty years later we’re still waiting for actual proof but it’s OK, because, yet again, it’s Courtney Love’s fault for refusing “to allow the police and the medical examiner’s office to release”. It’s circular argument; I have evidence that Courtney is guilty but I can’t show you it and anyway it’s not evidence until I have evidence that Courtney won’t let me see. So, if you’ll permit me to summarise, it’s NOT smoking gun evidence. Maybe the FBI might reopen a case if there was evidence and maybe a former detective might know that and choose to involve the authorities if there was something there.
Simultaneously, the authors are fine forgiving the fact that Mr. Grant continued to work for a woman he claims he believed was a murderer for several years. Again, the blame and responsibility is placed on Courtney Love — everything in this book is turned around, I’m left doubting if anything in the world happens without Love’s Illuminati style control. Another volte-face is written in which Mr. Grant refuses to take more money for his investigations of Cobain’s death, signalling what an honourable man he is, but is happy to continue taking her money for other investigations. Forgive me for not seeing the difference nor why it suggests he was being paid off or manipulated. As ever, Grant is allowed to make his own claims at face-value and with no deeper interrogation — the authors’ feel no responsibility to investigate the material.
Both Grant and the authors then engage in an ever-increasing avalanche of carefully couched accusations against Courtney Love. It’s a book of endless suspicions, of “isn’t it strange that so-and-so didn’t do X/say X” or “isn’t it strange that they did X/said X” — it’d be delightful to have a scrap of evidence so they could quit the use of rhetorical questions. For the record, trying to suggest that every action or word should, in a screen-scripted world, be other than what it is in messy reality does not constitute evidence of anything at all. If the authors drew together what they are seeking to show are contradictions in the actions of Courtney Love and others into a stronger argument I’d be more impressed, instead, due to the weakness of each statement they leave them hanging in mid-air with no elaboration, often with a post-hoc admission that what they’ve just written doesn’t mean anything. Look for the number of phrasings like “it is interesting to note” and you’ll find mystical statement after statement, each positing an alternative reality and each providing no evidence at all — they’re not even the kinds of strong divergences that would form a fair suspicion. The book is a litany of claims of significance all spilled out over things that have none. The result is wonderful, it’s possible for both readers and authors to discard details at will and to remain so buried in minutiae that it’s possible to forget the overall argument and the wider lack of evidence; it’s a key reason why the murder theories are so persistent — if any item proves weak (and all of them are) then the acolyte can just move onto the next in an endless loop while claiming that the mere existence of so many unsupported or poorly supported ideas gives them a greater significance.
The cast of characters just gets better. The claims of alcoholic, drug user, known crazy and controversy/publicity seeker El Duce are unbelievable right up until “there was an eyewitness”; who? Oh, just El Duce’s friend who says he was at the scene too and who takes El Duce’s messages for him. The conflict of interest is clear and that’s without having to mention the cartoonish nature of the image; Courtney Love drives up in a limousine. But that’s OK because El Duce’s taken a lie detector test ignoring the massive controversy around the effectiveness or otherwise of polygraphs — I’ll let you look up the Wikipedia entry but basically we’re back in the land of TV-based reality where every crime has a technological solution, a basket-load of usable forensic evidence that all points irrefutably to an answer.
Courtney Love’s father Hank Harrison ends up filling me with a genuine sympathy for a woman I otherwise find very difficult to empathise with. His book on Kurt Cobain is available online, various excerpts did make it out. While I’m on the topic of releases about the murder of Kurt Cobain, feel free to check this one out too:
Mr. Harrison’s contributions are the best indicator of this book’s ultimate malice; he’s utterly untrustworthy, a man with a wondrous drug-addled aspect that makes the rest of the book’s contributors seem almost realistic. He is openly vindictive toward his daughter and constantly seems to be baiting her while making sure to retain the moral high-ground by claiming care and concern even as he damns her word after word. He certainly never takes any responsibility for what seems to have been one of the most confusing childhoods ever created. At least this time the authors admit that this individual has made attempts to benefit financially from his relationship with Courtney Love and, by default, the Cobain topic, whether to bolster his position in the community, or directly in cash. But, once again, like Mr. Grant’s grand evidence unveiling, Harrison’s law-suit to force the reopening of Cobain’s case has never happened.
My hopes for an impressive piece of investigative journalism went sorely undelivered in this case. A cast of no conviction, trial by innuendo, a range of con-tricks on the reader and worst of all a simple lack of proof all delivered by two guys who demonstrably did make money from stating all this and mainly on the back of an investigator who has been taking money and investigating for twenty years now without moving any further than he was right back when he started and with no record of what that money has been spent on — it took me a few days of breathing exercises to work up to Love & Death…
Note that this post is one of four linked articles on the topic: