King Buzzo recounts the night a teen Kurt Cobain was arrested: “We walked around the corner and there’s cops everywhere”

The pair were tagging the Nirvana leader’s hometown of Aberdeen, Washington.

Buzz Osborne and Kurt Cobain

Photos: Lucy Johnston / Redferns, Bureau of Prisons / Getty

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When a teenage Kurt Cobain was arrested in 1986 – accounting for that infamous mugshot above – the Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne was right by his side. And King Buzzo recently lifted the lid on what happened that night.

“We were out spraypainting graffiti all over town [Aberdeen, Washington],” Osborne said on Divine Monkeyshines: Valentine’s Day Special, a livestream hosted by the Melvins in the lead-up to their forthcoming album Working With God, due out 26 February 2021. “You try to think of something that’s gonna really burn all these people there.”

The night of the arrest, Osborne and Cobain were joined by ex-Melvins drummer Matt Dillard.

“We walked around the corner of this bank and all of a sudden there’s cops, a bunch of cops everywhere,” Osborne recalled. “And we just take off running in different directions.”

“All of a sudden, we heard ‘errrrrck’ around the corner,” Osborne mimicked a car coming to a screeching halt. “They had nabbed Cobain somehow. Like he was hiding somewhere. And he went to the joint.”

The Nirvana frontman spent the night in jail, later describing the experience to Osborne as “horrible”. The line that Cobain got nabbed for? “Ain’t got no how whatchamacallit”.

Tagging locations in Cobain’s hometown was a regular activity for the friends, according to the Melvins man. He also mentioned that Cobain’s favourite line to tag was “God is gay” – a line that later appeared in Nirvana’s Stay Away from Nevermind.

“He was actually a really good artist,” Osborne continued. “So if he spraypainted a picture, it would really be good. Usually it was very dark humour and not very PC.”

Elsewhere in the livestream, Osborne also recounted the time he had been asked for his thoughts on the movement to memorialise Cobain in Aberdeen that would eventually result in the establishment of Kurt Cobain Landing in 2011.

“I got a call from some local reporter guy from the paper to ask me what I thought of all that,” Osborne said. “And I said, ‘You guys should put the memorial to Kurt in the same jail cell you threw him in.’ Click! End of the interview.”

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