King Buzzo Recalls the Night Kurt Cobain Got Arrested
Buzz Osborne, aka King Buzzo, frontman of Melvins, recalled a night of teenage antics alongside Kurt Cobain that eventually landed the future Nirvana leader in jail.
“We were out spray painting graffiti all over town,” Osborne recalled during the Divine Monkeyshines: Valentine’s Day Special, a streaming event hosted by the Melvins in anticipation of their upcoming album Working With God.
Such high jinks were commonplace for the group of friends, which took joy in tagging things designed to offend people in the suburban town of Aberdeen, Wash.
“You try to think of something that’s gonna really burn all these people there,” Osborne explained, noting that his “favorite tag” was to write “God is gay” - a phrase that would later appear in the lyrics to the Nirvana song “Stay Away.”
The trio - Cobain, Osborne and former Melvins drummer Matt Dillard - usually got away with their vandalism, but on this night in particular, things didn’t go to plan.
“We walked around the corner of this bank and all of a sudden there’s cops, a bunch of cops everywhere,” Osborne recalled. “And we just take off running in different directions.”
While the two Melvins bandmates would avoid arrest, Cobain wasn’t as lucky. “All of a sudden, we heard errrrrck around the corner,” Osbourne detailed, mimicking the sound of a car screeching to a halt. “They had nabbed Cobain somehow. Like he was hiding somewhere. And he went to the joint.”
Cobain spent a night in jail, later telling Osborne the experience was “horrible.” Police reports note the phrase the Nirvana frontman was arrested for spray painting that night was “Ain't got no how whatchamacallit."
“He was actually a really good artist, so if he spray painted a picture, it would really be good,” Osborne noted of Cobain. “But usually it was very dark humor and not very PC.”
Years later, following the massive success of Nirvana and Cobain’s subsequent suicide, there was a push to erect a memorial to the rocker in Aberdeen.
“I got a call from some local reporter guy from the paper to ask me what I thought of all that,” Osborne recalled. “And I said, ‘You guys should put the memorial to Kurt in the same jail cell you threw him in.' Click! End of the interview.”
Melvins' Divine Monkeyshines: Valentine's Day Special can still be streamed at Veeps.com. Working With God, which features the group's "1983" lineup, with Dillard returning on drums and current drummer Dale Crover moving over to bass, arrives on Feb. 26. The album features cover versions of Nilsson's "You're Breakin' My Heart" and the Beach Boys' "I Get Around."