Jesse Frohman on Photographing Kurt Cobain

Rolling Stone

"Kurt" by Jesse Frohman, an exhibition of photographs of the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, opened at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in Manhattan on April 5th, 2011, the 18th anniversary of the rocker's death.
Frohman's images, which were shot over one day in November 1993 in New York, depict Cobain and his band at the height of their success while on tour in support of In Utero and only months before the songwriter took his own life at the age of 27.

"It was the only time I photographed him and Nirvana, and the assignment originally was to do a cover story for the Sunday Observer," Frohman tells Rolling Stone. "We had set up for a shoot in New York when they were going to perform at Roseland Ballroom, so we had the whole day to shoot. That was the original assignment, but of course, things didn't turn out the way we planned. Often times with shoots of musicians or celebrities, they don't – so even though I prepared for that, it pretty much went off-track pretty quickly."


A Rough Start

"It was a very unique shoot," Frohman recalls. "Kurt showed up three hours late to the shoot, and the shoot was in his hotel. We originally planned for the shoot to take place outside in Central Park. I had a van all packed up with equipment and when we arrived, we met the manager in the lobby, and he said, 'We have to shoot in the hotel.' He arranged for a conference room in the basement of the hotel for us, and he said, 'Go check it out,' and unfortunately didn't offer any other options if it didn't work out. We didn't have that much room. We waited for Kurt, and Dave [Grohl] and Krist [Novoselic] came down, and there was no Kurt. And they left, and they came back two hours later, there was no Kurt."

Kurt Appears

"Eventually, at least three hours later than originally scheduled, Kurt came down," says Frohman. "He was very quiet and he was wearing these white Jackie O glasses with his chin down to his chest, and he asked for a bucket. And I said, 'Sure, we have a bucket. What do you need a bucket for?' And he said, ''Cause I think I'm gonna puke.' And that was my introduction to Kurt."

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