I’m not quite done with Tacoma. I mean, for a start, I wanted to put up just the one photo of the Tacoma Dome. Beyond being the location for a number of shows the Nirvana boys attended, its other claim to Nirvana tale fame comes from the link to the song Polly — Gerald Friend abducted his victim after a show here, grim. Hence, only one photo and a desire to focus on perkier things…
Bob and John drove me round to the former location of Legends. Back in late 1989 John had been chatting on with Kurt and they decided it would be cool to have a show featuring Machine and Nirvana together. Ryan (photogenic gentleman kneeling with the dog in yesterday’s photo) designed the well-known flyer for the January 20, 1990 show at Legends — label/management involvement is how Tad ended up tucked into the running order.
It’s nice they’ve preserved the exterior of the building — it’s a classy style — but the exterior has become, yes, you’ve guessed it; a car park. It’s another thing that unites the U.S. and U.K., the tendency to slam tarmac down over everything — I’m sure I’m paraphrasing from somewhere “they took culture and built a car park over it.” John recalls the upper floors being used by various gangs with access via the back windows. He even lived there at one point with a friend for a few nights when life had taken an unsteady turn. The other photo here is the bricked in and painted over entrance to the backstage areas where the bands loaded and unloaded their gear.
Now, as ever, anything placed online will always end up snatched and gone before one has a chance to blink. Well, a strong desire to be respectful here and preserve privacy for those kind enough to show me a number of items of their private property. I used to live in a town called St Neots it’s in Huntingdonshire; claims to fame? A fellow who shot the British prime minister on May 11, 1812, the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated, came from St Neots. Funnily enough, his name was John Bellingham (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bellingham) — Bellingham being a town up the road here in State of Washington (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellingham,_Washington) where Nirvana played in 1992 — isn’t the world full of great coincidences? There was also a small skirmish during the English Civil War and there’s a rumoured ghost of a Cavalier stood looking out the ground floor bathroom windows to watch over the river for the approaching Roundheads. The story of greatest relevance here, however, is that there was a Priory on the site of the present-day Priory Park dedicated to Saint Neot. There’s another Saint Neots (take a read, and let’s be fair, he’s one of the less impressive saints… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Neot,_Cornwall ), however, down in Cornwall and they claimed to have relics of said saint. The only way I can describe it is that a crack commando unit of monks was dispatched from Huntingdonshire all the way across the country to Cornwall where they launched a raid on the religious establishments there, stole whatever they could and dashed back home — a less-virtuous A-Team of religious fervour.
Why am I telling you this except for my enjoyment of the tale? Well, its an indication of the hysterical reaction to religious relics back then. Items said to belong to, to have been worn by, to be from the body of a sacred individual were venerated, stolen, traded, acquired by royalty and full pilgrimages were launched across national borders to visit them. When viewing the items below I had to snigger from my faint sense of absurdity; it’s more or less what I’ve done here.
John brought out items sent to him by Kurt Cobain. They’re kept securely in an undisclosed location of course and frankly they’re not historical items, they’re things given to him by a dear friend who died — they deserve to be treated with that reverence and care, as if they were leftovers from one of your own dead loved ones.
This is John’s copy of the Love Buzz/Big Cheese single accompanied by Kurt’s note saying how pleased he is to have it out, poking fun at his band and simultaneously saying he’s a little disappointed by it only being a run of 1,000 copies. I’ve half covered it with a shot of King Buzzo to ensure it can’t just be copied and faked.
Brilliantly John’s dad even managed to keep the packaging in which Kurt (Kurdt) sent it to John back in 1988; a bit smudged, smeared and grimy but there it is – 25 year old some-day-superstar mailing.
These two photos do exactly what they say on the tin; one is the copy Kurt made for John of the January 23, 1988 demo session, the other is the copy of the Bleach sessions. John says that Krist told him in 1992 that they had been worried for a time that John’s battered old cassette was the only copy left of Big Long Now until they finally learned that the master was in Jack Endino’s possession.
There’s also the last note Kurt wrote to John in late 1993 backstage at a show – the last time they saw one another. I didn’t photograph it. Tracy Marander also gave John prints of a number of her photos of Kurt, you’ll see the date on all of them plus her record of when she took them. Here’s a couple, again, I just cut them off if they were already well known shots…
We’ll leave it there I guess…Other shots of Tacoma? Ooooo…Let’s see…
Couple more shots of the port…
This is the old fort up at Point Defiance…
This is wicked graffitti posted in honour (and to amuse) my dear little sister Sophie who is presently occupying my rooom back in London while I’m away and having a well-deserved break. She’s the artistic one among we four siblings…
And this…Is a pretty fish.
5 thoughts on “Tacoma: Kurt Cobain Relics and Another Nirvana Venue”
Hey dude–great tour diary. Are you paraphrasing Joni Mitchell “Big Yellow Taxi”? It’s a good one.
“They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go?
You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise and they put up a parking lot.”
From memory proud to say. Enjoy your trip and travel safe.
Thanks for the cheery thought! What a bittersweet sentiment…You’re right though, I’ll have to give someone the access and get them to keep paying for it…
I’ve got most of the graphics and all the text…If it didn’t crash the server I’d be sharing it out more with pleasure.