April 7th marked the 17-year death anniversary of Kurt Cobain, one of the most influential musicians, guitarists and songwriters of all-time. While there are still conspiracy theorists that say Kurt was murdered, he was too drugged to have committed suicide, the notes found in the greenhouse are extremely suspicious, etc., there is no denying what Kurt brought to the world of music and to the grunge genre.
Below is a statement made by Jared Leto of 30 Seconds to Mars. Leto made a personal video where he did pieces of some of Cobain’s best work. You can listen to it here. Leto, like many other musicians, Leto was influenced by Cobain’s work, and offered some insight on the anniversary of his passing:
I heard today (April 5) was the day Kurt passed away 17 years ago. Can’t believe it’s been that long. So grateful for his contribution and inspiration. Not sure I’d be doing this if it weren’t for him. He gave us all permission to create no matter what our skill set and reminded me that dreams are possible. Thanks for that. This made me recall a short piece of film I shot when I heard they were making a film celebrating his life. I made it to explore the character and explore creative possibilities. I never sent it to the studio or to anyone but thought I’d share it now…
- Jared Leto
With his memory in mind, let’s take a look at the Top 10 grunge guitarists of all-time.
10. Andrew Wood (Mother Love Bone)
Had Andrew Wood not overdosed on heroin, you might never have known the name Eddie Vedder. And with no Eddie Vedder means no Pearl Jam. After Wood’s passing, Chris Cornell approached Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament (formerly of MLB), asking them to do a tribute single in honour of Wood. Vedder contributed vocals on “Hunger Strike,” and eventually became the front man for Pearl Jam.
9. Gavin Rossdale (Bush)
Bush was given flack early in its career for being a copy of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, but all the critics were put to rest on their debut album, Sixteen Stone.
8. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden)
After the breakup of Soundgarden, Cornell kicked ass with Audioslave. Unfortunately, smoking ended up destroying his vocal cords.
7. Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots)
If not for his heroin addiction, Weiland would be higher up this list. STP also would’ve sold millions of more albums during the 90′s. STP is back, though, and Weiland is back to rocking out after a four years as the lead singer for Velvet Revolver.
6. Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins)
Corgan revolutionized several guitar techniques–for example, the open E string in 1979 and Cherub Rock.
5. Mike McCready/Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam)
Pearl Jam, to this day, continues to kick ass around the world, and their incredible longevity is something to marvel. Vedder is often compared to the Neil Young of this generation.
4. Jerry Cantrell/Layne Staley (Alice in Chains)
Staley was in the shadow of Cantrell but had one of the best raspy voices of all time. Staley died on the eight-year anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death (April 5th, 2002) due to a heroin. Staley inspired Aaron Lewis of Staind so much that when Lewis heard of Staley’s passing, he wrote “Layne”, a tribute on Staind’s album, 14 Shades of Grey. In it, Lewis thanks Staley for helping Lewis get through “his darkest times” and implies that had Staley not written songs about heroin addiction, Lewis likely wouldn’t be a father to his daughter.
3. Kim Thayil (Soundgarden)
Thayil is the blueprint of a grunge guitarist, as he was the influence for just about every band in the 1990′s. His untuned guitar and solid riffs made Soundgarden the best grunge band of all-time.
2. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
Cobain is arguably the greatest songwriter in rock history and is the face of modern rock. Cobain became huge with angst-ridden teenagers and provided them hope. Cobain was not only one of the best songwriters and musicians, but was also one of the best sellers of his performances. To this day, he remains one of the most influential and talented musicians ever, and is–literally–the voice of a generation. Nirvana’s last two albums, Nevermind and In Utero, are two of the greatest grunge albums of all-time. Cobain’s performance on MTV’s ‘Unplugged’ (1993) goes down in history as one of the greatest live performances of all-time.
1. Neil Young
‘The Godfather of Grunge,’ Young is the most influential guitarist on this list. Young etched his name in grunge folklore in the late 90?s teaming up with Pearl Jam on ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ and on his own album, Mirror Ball. McCready was inspired by his solos, Cobain was inspired by his chords, and Greenwood picked up his guitar-swinging. Simply put, without Neil Young, there would be no grunge.