Famous Last Words…
Some are weird, some are wonderful and some are just plain old rock and roll.
On April 5 1994, the lead singer of Nirvana took his own life with a shotgun to his head. He was found three days later along with a suicide note. The note was addressed to his imaginary friend Boddah who he often blamed for his own wrong doings. While the note in its entirety is a heartbreaking insight into the mind of a man and musician the final line in the body of the letter is what is often attributed to Cobain as his final words and quoted as such. However the phrase “It’s better to burn out than to fade away” is actually lyrics from the Neil Young song Hey Hey, My My (Into the black).
When Young was asked by Time magazine in 2005 about the line and Cobain’s death, he said: “The fact that he left the lyrics to my song right there with him when he killed himself left a profound feeling on me, but I don’t think he was saying I have to kill myself because I don’t want to fade away. I don’t think he was interpreting the song in a negative way. It’s a song about artistic survival, and I think he had a problem with the fact that he thought he was selling out, and he didn’t know how to stop it. He was forced to do tours when he didn’t want to, forced into all kinds of stuff. I was trying to get a hold of him – because I had heard some of the things he was doing to himself – just to tell him it’s OK not to tour, it’s OK not to do these things, just take control of your life and make your music. Or, hey, don’t make music. But as soon as you feel like you’re out there pretending, you’re f–cked. I think he knew that instinctively, but he was young and he didn’t have a lot of self-control. And who knows what other personal things in his life were having a negative impression on him at the time?”
In the weeks prior to Kurt’s death Young had been trying to get in contact with Cobain in the hope to ease some of his load. For years he didn’t talk about the connection in the suicide note and why he dedicated his 1994 album, Sleeps with Angels, to Cobain. However, in his book Waging Heavy Peace Young reveals the toll the note took. “When he died and left that note, it struck a deep chord inside of me. It f—ed with me.” He said.
For the full note see here.
John Lennon: “I’ll probably be popped off by some loony.“
OK, so they weren’t his last words. His last were most probably “I’m shot”, or a response to someone asking who he was after he received multiple gun wounds and was bleeding out in front of The Dakota. Some reports suggest he replied “John Lennon” and others say he answered “I am” after he was asked if he was indeed John Lennon. Arguably the most infamous Beatle, Lennon was struck by four bullets on December 8 1980. They were fired by Mark Chapman, who by all accounts was indeed a ‘loony’, even attempting to use not guilty by reason of insanity’ to reduce his sentence.
However, the most remarkable claim is that John Lennon predicted his own death. Kind of. In a Newsweek magazine interview in 1965, while still a Beatle, he reportedly gave this response after being asked how he thought he would die. The actual answer was referring to the Beatles as a whole not just himself, saying “We’ll either go in a plane crash or we’ll be popped off by some loony.” It is often misquoted.
Ray Coleman “Lennon: The definitive Biography”
Other instances when Lennon predicted his demise are as follows (I have been unable to find the original source of these quotes):
When asked why The Beatles broke up Lennon is believed to have said, “We were not bored and certainly did not run out of songs. I was paranoid about somebody trying to bump us off.”
When he heard that the Beatles’s former road manager Mal Evans had been shot dead by the LAPD, he said over and over again, “I’m next, I know it.”
More to come…