Kurt Cobain posts a "Drummer Wanted" classified advertisement in Seattle's The Rocket on May 1, 1988.

  • By Peter Blecha
  • Posted 4/23/2013
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 10378
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On May 1, 1988, the new issue of Seattle music and pop-culture magazine The Rocket includes, among its many "Musicians Wanted" classified advertisements, a "Drummer Wanted" notice written and purchased by Aberdeen guitarist Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), who is seeking a new tub-thumper for his soon-to-be-famous band, Nirvana. Although not as a result of the ad, within weeks Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic (b. 1965) will connect with drummer Chad Channing (b. 1967) and record Nirvana's historic first single.

The Rocket

The Rocket served the Pacific Northwest music community between 1979 and 2000. In addition to reviewing thousands of new local record, cassette, and compact disc releases and publishing countless feature essays about various bands, radio stations, nightclubs, and more, the magazine also offered an affordable classified-ad section. It was there that many a fledgling band placed ads -- and occasionally connected successfully with other musicians.

In 1987 a striving band that would later come to be called Nirvana formed in Aberdeen, Grays Harbor County -- but within the passage of several months the band went through at least three different drummers. And still something wasn't quite right yet. So guitarist/vocalist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic decided to reach out and try to find yet another new drummer, via four ads that they purchased in The Rocket.

The Want Ad

Cobain's final ad appeared on page 36 of the May 1988 issue -- one that featured extremely psychedelic cover art, by Seattle artist Doug Fast, depicting Seattle guitar legend Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970). The ad identified him as "Kurdt," a name that Kurt the wordsmith used playfully on occasion. In addition to referencing three groups that the Aberdeen players revered (Seattle's Soundgarden, England's Led Zeppelin, and Texas's Scratch Acid), it also included a punky jab at the mainstream rock and/or heavy metal subcultures (which were then placing stylistic premiums on flamboyant big-hair coiffures and sartorial peacockery), stating:

"DRUMMER WANTED. Hard, heavy, to hell with your 'looks and hair a must.' Soundgarden, Zep, Scratch Acid. Kurdt 352-0992."

That ad did not, however, actually lead the guys to their next drummer, Chad Channing. Cobain and Novoselic had first met him on August 9, 1987, when their band, then known as Bliss, shared a gig with his band, the Magnet Men, at Tacoma's Community World Theater (5441 South M Street). After settling on the name Nirvana they crossed paths with Channing again, a few weeks after the ad appeared, at an Evergreen State College gig in Olympia on May 21, 1988. Channing was invited to jam with them later and he fell into the drummer slot without ceremony. In June, Nirvana recorded its classic first single, "Love Buzz" / "Big Cheese" (No. SP-23), for Seattle's Sub Pop Records and the rest is, well, grunge rock history.


The Rocket, May 1988, p. 36; Nirvana Live Guide website accessed April 16, 2013 (http://www.nirvanaguide.com); author's archives.

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