By Angela Pacienza, The Associated Press
Toronto (CP) -- Hours after Kurt Cobain's body was found in his
Seattle greenhouse with what authorities called a self-inflicted
gunshot wound, rumours of a plot to take out the popular singer
The king of the grunge movement was instantly added to the list of
stars that murder mythologies have grown up around -- a catalogue
that includes the decades-old deaths of the likes of Marilyn Monroe,
Brian Jones and Elvis Presley and the more recent death of Diana,
Princess of Wales.
And like most conspiracy theories, dozens of scenarios have been spun
since Cobain's death 10 years ago. The juiciest of the dozen
hypotheses allege his wife Courtney Love was somehow involved.
The murder theory continues to thrive thanks in large part to two
Montreal authors who've spent 10 years following leads on the case.
Max Wallace and Ian Halperin have compiled their latest findings in
Love and Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain, a followup to their 1998
best-selling Who Killed Kurt Cobain?
Based largely on materials supplied by Love's private investigator
Tom Grant and a leaked toxicology report, the book suggests the
Nirvana frontman was murdered, and the death was staged to look like
suicide. The authors hope the book will lead police to reopen the
Among the evidence is a report showing Cobain had a triple lethal
dose of heroin in his system that would have rendered him unable to
shoot himself. They also paint a picture of a happy Cobain who was
planning a fresh start by leaving his wife.
Over breakfast at a downtown cafe, the authors are ready to defend
their book against skeptics who think they're just cashing in on the
legend's death with a far-fetched conspiracy theory -- a dime a dozen
in the celebrity world.
"We knew we'd be criticized for writing a second book on the case.
Obviously our reputations are at stake," says Wallace, who's
currently working on a documentary about the backlash against
celebrities who spoke out about the Iraq war.
"Neither of us have really been conspiracy theorists with all the
hysterical tone that it implies."
True enough, the pair are calm and collected when explaining their
theory and how they collected the evidence. In the book, they've
restrained their language to convey an intelligent argument rather
than tabloid-style scrawlings.
The writers, who both live in Montreal, have been doing the U.S.
morning show talk circuit. They've been on CBS's Early Show with
Hannah Storm and CNN's with Paula Zahn among others. Their publishers
Simon and Schuster have taken out ads in major publications and many
bookstores have given the book prominent display.
The reason is obvious. Even though he's been dead for a decade,
Cobain is as popular as ever. Last week, on the April 8 anniversary
of his death, hundreds of newspapers across North America featured
commemorative essays and articles about the star.
But aren't the authors opening themselves to a huge lawsuit by Love?
Love's response to the book is to accuse Wallace and Halperin of
being moneygrubbing journalists.
"Courtney and her family regret that Wallace and Halperin have
opportunistically used the anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death to
promote their ongoing campaign of greed and exploitation of what
remains an unbearable tragedy for us all," a statement released by
Love's people said. "There has been a thorough investigation of Kurt
Cobain's death by the Seattle Police Department, and it has been
unquestionably ruled a suicide. We hope that everyone will ignore
them and focus on Kurt's life and music."
Wallace insists they would have never written the second instalment
if it weren't for Grant's audio tapes -- conversations with Love he
recorded after she hired him to find her husband who'd disappeared
from a drug rehab centre days before his death.
"We obtained the tapes which were very damning, very revealing. That
was the real impetus for the second book," he said. "The tapes more
than anything prove that it's not a half-baked conspiracy theory."
The content of the tapes paints a jealous Love who suspects Cobain
was going to divorce her.
Now that the theory has been laid out for the public to read, Wallace
and Halperin insist they're moving on to other subjects.
"It's business as usual. I'm not a cop. I'm not a P.I. I write books
for a living," said Halperin.
Wallace added: "We're going to keep following the case but we have no
plans of writing book three. Hopefully the next chapter in this story
will be the reopening of the case and no more books will be
The authors are also sure to stress that they're not pointing the
finger at Love.
"We're not accusing Courtney of murder but we're encouraging her to
come forward and at least explain her suspicious role in the days
leading up to Kurt's death," says Halperin, who's developing a
documentary for CTV based on an undercover assignment as a Hollywood
actor (which landed him a role in Martin Scorsese's film The Aviator).
"If she loves him as much as she says she did I'm surprised she's not
out on the trail trying to find out what really happened."
The duo became entangled in the Cobain folklore when Halperin was on
tour in Seattle with his band State of Emergency in 1994.
"I started hearing all these allegations," he said. "At first I was a
bit skeptical but these were coming from Kurt's really good friends
who I was hanging out with at the time."
While the seed had been planted, Halperin buried the hearsay while
working on other projects. He went back to it a few months later
after reading that Love's private investigator, Grant, was accusing
her of somehow being involved in Cobain's death.
"That's when all the red flags were raised and my journalistic
instinct took over," he said.
Halperin called Wallace, who he'd worked with before in a Rolling
Stone investigative piece, to start probing the buzz.
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Their initial findings were published in 1995 in the defunct Canadian
Disk magazine. The pair then rushed to write a book which explored
conspiracy theories but never took a real position on exactly what
happened to the Nirvana frontman.