“I, Bill Simpson, Mayor for the City of Aberdeen, do hereby proclaim Feb. 20 to be hereafter known in the City of Aberdeen as Kurt Cobain Day in recognition of his artistic achievements and the contributions of Aberdonians and our guest in memorializing his legacy.”
And with that proclamation Wednesday night at the City Council meeting, Mayor Simpson aimed to officially recognize Aberdeen’s most famous figure. Cobain was born in Aberdeen in 1967 and became one of the most influential musical figures of his generation. He committed suicide in 1994.
He and his band Nirvana will be welcomed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this spring, but the world famous rock star has never before been officially celebrated in his hometown.
Hoquiam declared April 10 to be Nirvana Day, coinciding with the induction into the Hall of Fame. At an Aberdeen council meeting later, Simpson, not to be outdone, announced Aberdeen would celebrate with a week of events during the anniversary of his birth. Later he scaled that back to an evening celebration Feb. 20.
The proclamation notes that “Aberdeen residents may justifiably take pride in the role our community played in the life of Kurt Cobain and the international recognition our community has gained from its connections with Kurt Cobain and his artistic achievements.”
At City Hall Tuesday afternoon, the mayor was absorbing the notoriety that has greeted the plans, which feature one formal city celebration the evening of Cobain’s birthday next Thursday at the Aberdeen Museum of History. The Aberdeen Timberland Library has an ongoing display up and other plans have not yet been confirmed
Simpson used the online face-to-face tool Skype for this first time Tuesday morning, doing an interview with a publication in Ireland, he said. He said he scaled back plans for a week of celebrations because it was too much, he couldn’t believe how many calls he got, he said. “People are very interested (but) I have a city to run,” Simpson said.
“I learned a lot about Kurt,” said the mayor whose musical tastes run more to Elvis Presley, Dean Martin and Perry Como. Originally, he was hesitant to fully embrace Cobain because of his past addiction and suicide, he said. Over time, listening to his music and talking to people who loved and admired him, he began to see Cobain as “very serious, a sincere person.”
“We created him and expected him to do more and more and more,” said Simpson, referring to Cobain’s troubled relationship with fame. He played a You Tube video by Frank Jerky called “Letter to Boddah” that features an actor reenacting Cobain writing his last note. “Better take one of these,” the mayor said, handing the reporter a tissue.
After watching, he noted the need for attention can be a drug, too, something he discussed with the Irish journalist that morning. “Very deep,” the mayor said.
“Whereas, while Kurt’s lyrics and album liner notes served as an outlet for his personal anger and frustration, we should recognize that he used his fame to advocate for the rights of women, gays and other minorities and ‘teen misfits’ like himself,” says the proclamation.
Special recognition should be given to the Aberdeen Museum of History, and to “Tori Kovach, Denny Jackson, Randi Hubbard, and other volunteers who are working to keep the memory, music, art and experiences of Kurt alive for Aberdonians and their international guests,” it says.
So far, here is a confirmed list of events and attendees as available late Wednesday.
Feb. 20, 5:30 p.m., the Aberdeen Museum of History, 111 E. 3rd St.:
The official city celebration will be celebrated at the museum, where “Cement Resurrection” a full scale statue of Cobain will join a Nirvana and Cobain exhibit. Creator of the sculpture Randi Hubbard will be on hand as will the original drummer of Nirvana, Aaron Burckhard and Cobain’s first guitar teacher, Warren Mason, the news release said.
Cupcakes, cookies and light refreshment will be served and the band Gebular will play, it adds.
Ongoing through February, Aberdeen Timberland Public Library, 121 E. Market St.:
A display celebrating the proclamation, features memorabilia from past book signings and articles “that we kept for people who want a taste of Kurt Cobain,” said interim Library Manager Laura Young Wednesday. A reading list as well as some of the soundtracks and DVDs available at Timberland Regional Libraries are also on display, she said.
A trio of rough artistic sketches by artist Erik Sandgren for the Nirvana mural commissioned by Our Aberdeen and planned for a building downtown, will be on display at both the museum and the library.
Plans for bands to play at the SouthShore Mall on Saturday, Feb. 22 is still a work in progress, according to music lover Donna Albert. Call 360-280-9413 to participate.