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Forever 21 Under Fire For Ripping Off Kurt Cobain Design

Posted by MTV News On December - 6 - 2011

By Zachary Swickey

Cheap-but-trendy fashion store for the ladies Forever 21 has come under the ire of Nirvana fans and fashion critics for blatantly ripping off a tee designed by the late Kurt Cobain way back in 1992. The singer notably wore his version of the shirt – a shark-like fish that he drew on a white T-shirt with a Sharpie – when Nirvana was the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” that year. Cobain was known for crafting his own crudely made shirts, famously wearing one with the phrase “Corporate magazines still suck” for Nirvana’s appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Forever 21 did not even credit the design origin to Cobain or Nirvana in any way on its site. Rather, it was described simply as a tee with a “sketched ‘Flipper’ graphic on front.” The clothing store has (smartly) pulled the shirt, which was originally available for the low price of just $16.90.

Unsurprisingly, Forever 21 is loathed in fashion circles for its frequent design infringements. Their list of infractions is lengthy: Diane von Furstenberg settled with the chain for duplicating her dress designs, Gwen Stefani sued them for ripping off her Harajuku Lovers line, and designer Anna Sui took them to court for selling numerous items that bared a striking resemblance to products she debuted at New York Fashion Week. The store was even accused of ripping off an interactive billboard installation in New York’s Times Square from an ’09 piece that was displayed in London by artist Chris O’Shea.

Hopefully the store is prepared for the certain impending wrath that Courtney Love will bring.

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Recently Unearthed Footage Shows Baby Frances Bean Cobain On Set With Mom And Dad

Posted by MTV News On September - 23 - 2011

By Andréa Duncan-Mao

As the enigmatic leader of one of the most impactful rock acts in modern history, Kurt Cobain’s music touched a generation of fans. Just as we are moved by his dense, personal lyrics, raging guitar and outsider ethos, we are equally fascinated by his complex personality. He was a man who dreamt of fame but couldn’t cope with it, a performer who could move a crowd but couldn’t stand to be in one, someone we all heard of but never really knew.

But there was a chubby toddler with golden locks and crystal blue eyes who knew him in a way no one else would. Frances Bean Cobain, Kurt’s daughter with wife Courtney Love, was born 1992 and even as a newborn went everywhere with him. And in their interactions, we see a glimpse of Cobain as a father — patient, tender, in wonder.

In 1993, Kurt sat down with MTV to talk about his life since the explosive success of Nevermind, and brought Frances and Courtney along. As the camera rolled pre-interview, the happy — and somewhat frazzled — family were captured on tape. In this rare, unearthed footage of the Cobains, we see Courtney in a pre-Hollywood-makeover ripped dress, Kurt in the shadows, and Frances Bean, ready for her close-up at not even two years old.

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On Anniversary of Nevermind, Nirvana EMP Exhibit Hit With Fans, Grunge Icons

Posted by Gil Kaufman On September - 20 - 2011

While Nirvana’s landmark Nevermind album officially turns 20 this week, the celebration of all things Kurt and company has actually been going on in the band’s adopted hometown since late April. That’s when the “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses” exhibit opened at Seattle’s Experience Music Project.

The carefully curated compendium of all things Nirvana is a kind of holy grail for the band’s biggest fans, but according to curator Jacob McMurray, it’s also been a magnet for typically jaded locals who have grudgingly (or is it, sorry, grunge-ingly?) have dropped in and admitted that, yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

“For me, it’s been way more than I expected,” McMurray said of the thousands who’ve wandered in to gawk at such iconic objects as the band’s first recording contract and late singer Kurt Cobain’s first smashed guitar. “Every time I go into the gallery, even if it’s a Monday morning, it will be packed.” McMurray said visitor range from die-hard Nirvanaheads to people who wander in with no knowledge of the band and leave with a desire to delve into the region’s rich musical history.

At first, McMurray said he was worried about what the notoriously picky locals would make of the exhibit, which displays signposts of Nirvana’s rise from obscurity amid a larger picture of the local and national music scene that helped spawn them. He knew he’d done okay when he was giving a tour to some DJ’s from legendary hometown radio station KEXP and one of the jocks who was part of the scene that helped nurture the grunge explosion told him that she came in expecting to hate it and left totally digging it. “I felt like, ‘my job is done,’” he said proudly.


Members of Alice in Chains were there for the April 23 opening, along with Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and former Guns N Roses bassist Duff McKagan, for what McMurray said everyone unofficially dubbed a “strange family reunion.” Enough time had passed, it seemed, that people weren’t “too northwest” about the celebration and had fond memories of that time.

Not only has there been a lot of love, but McMurray has gotten tons of “I was at that show” calls and offers for even more memorabilia, including one from a person in Olympia who has agreed to loan him a rare copy of the famed “Fecal Matter Demo,” which was Cobain’s second demo tape. And recently Mudhoney guitarist Steve Turner dropped in and was so excited that he offered to cough up a piece of Cobain gold: a tape he got years ago from Sub Pop Records co-founder Jonathan Poneman credited to Kurt Covain (nobody knew who he was then) and Dale Crover of the Melvins that is one of the two tapes famed area producer Jack Endino made after he recorded Kurt’s first demo tape.

The exhibit will be on display at the EMP through April 16, 2012, at which point it will travel to other cities.

The EMP will celebrate the Nevermind anniversary on Tuesday (September 20) night with an all-star show benefitting the Susie Tennant Fund, set up to help one of the town’s beloved music community members – and former Nirvana radio rep – who is battling ovarian cancer.

Nevermind Live in Sky Church: A Benefit Show for Susie Tennant” will take place tonight at the EMP and feature performances from Novoselic with The Presidents of the United States of America, Duff McKagan’s Loaded, The Fastbacks, Visqueen, Champagne Champagne, TacocaT, Crypts, Vendetta Red, The Long Winters, Ravenna Woods, Vaporland (ex-Love Battery, the Fluid, TAD), Valis (ex-Screaming Trees), and Campfire OK. After the groups play the legendary album, there will be a special encore set of Nirvana songs played by other local luminaries, including Young Fresh Fellows with Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Pigeonhed, Cobirds Unite, The Tripwires, Shelby Earl, SEACATS, Cali Giraffes, and Tom Price Desert Classic.

You can check out the concert via livestream tonight at 10 PM PT/1 AM ET at Nirvana’s Facebook page and

Visit the EMP website for a schedule of other special events and keep checking in at and for more Nevermind-related stories all week.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite album of 1991 and tell us if you think ’91 was the greatest year in rock of the MTV era.

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Celebrating The Twentieth Anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind

Posted by John Mitchell On September - 19 - 2011

This week, MTV is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s legendary album Nevermind with a week’s worth of coverage, including a look at the impact the groundbreaking album had on the music industry and a walk through our archives for some rare footage of the band.

We’re also looking to you to help us decide if 1991, the year Nevermind hit stores, was the greatest year for rock music in the MTV era and whether the album was even your favorite record that awesome year. The answers seem obvious until you consider that Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I + II, Metallica’s Black album and Pearl Jam’s Ten also hit shelves in 1991.

Vote in our polls after the jump and check back with MTV News all week for exclusive coverage of the Nevermind anniversary.

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Miley Cyrus ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ But There Have Been Worse

Posted by Gil Kaufman On May - 3 - 2011

Miley CyrusWe were pretty sure Kurt Cobain had rolled over in his grave enough a few weeks ago when just-booted “American Idol” finalist Casey “Wolfman” Abrams performed his tortured, crazy-eyed stare cover of Nirvana’s breakthrough hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Yes, it was awful, hard-to-watch and just kind of offensive to lovers of music. But when we saw footage of Miley Cyrus doing her studded leather and Crest White Strips shimmy to the song during a recent concert and, well, a new bar was set. Cyrus, of course, has more vocal chops, but her karaoke party blitz through the tune effectively stripped it of every ounce of angst or aggression, replacing the original’s intent with peppy cheerleader charm.

Are there worse ones? Yes, this awful effort by high school kids is generally considered to be the bottom of the “Teen Spirit” barrel, as tuneless as it is offbeat, but they’re kids, so they get half a break. It’s almost as bad as this talent show fail in which a pair of Italian girls don’t know the words or the broadside of a right note.

Someone thought it was a good idea for classic crooner Paul Anka to do a swinging, big band take in 2006, but they were wrong.

Hard rockers Flyleaf gave the song a shot in 2007, and while singer Lacey Sturm had the requisite dead-eye stare and twitchy angst down pat, her band kind of phoned in the Guitar Hero arrangement.

Now, if you want to hear the ultimate tribute, look no further than Tori Amos’ classic piano and voice version from her 1992 Crucify EP, which Cobain called a “great breakfast cereal version,” but which we think was amazing.

Fittingly, punk godmother Patti Smith also took a shot in 2007 on her covers album Twelve, which included bits of her own poetry. And one of Cobain’s grunge inspirations, the Melvins, hooked up with troubled 1970s teen dream Leif Garrett on their 2000 album The Crybaby, for their own version. The result was a real mess, with Garrett’s ravaged formerly sweet croon reduced to a generic rock dude grumble, but the irony factor cranked up to 11.5.

What’s the worst “Teen Spirit” cover you’ve ever heard? Tell us in comments below.

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