Uncashed Royalty Check to Kurt Cobain Is Smaller Than You Think

It was for $26, just before the Nirvana made it big
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2019 11:01 AM CDT
Overdue Bill, $26 Royalty Check Tell of Pre-Fame Cobain
This Dec. 13, 1993 file photo shows Kurt Cobain of Nirvana performing in Seattle, Wash.   (Robert Sorbo/The Seattle Times via AP, File)

A record store owner in Seattle has stumbled on papers that belonged to the late Kurt Cobain before he became a household name. Matt Vaughan of Easy Street Records bought a collection of Nirvana's tour itineraries back in 1993 but it wasn't until last week that he found the time to flip through every page. "That's when these thin pieces of paper dropped out," he tells CNN. Alongside an overdue medical bill and a backstage pass was a receipt for $177 in rent Cobain paid on Sept. 4, 1990, and an uncashed royalty check for $26.57, dated March 6, 1991. At that time, Nirvana had just one album to its name, Bleach.

"It's almost like these were reminders to him—or good luck charms—of harder times of what he had gone through," says Vaughan. He adds the documents show the cultural icon was "no different than any of us" since "we know what it's like to have so small of a check that you don't even want to go into the bank to cash it." The modest check from Broadcast Music—worth about $50 today, per Atlas Obscura—came six months before the release of Nirvana's breakout album Nevermind. "We're guessing the next royalty checks were a bit larger," reads an Instagram post by the record store, per the New York Daily News. (More Kurt Cobain stories.)

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