Former Nirvana manager Danny Goldberg discussed Kurt Cobain’s ambition in a new Whatever Nevermind interview.
A lot of ideas and memories I had were changed through talking to a lot of people. Kurt kind of had this ‘who cares’ kind of thing, but he was actually quite driven to be successful. Would you agree with that? Was that something you could tell early on working with him?
“Yeah, because that’s why they came to us and to me – because of that ambitious side of him. He didn’t show it to everybody that wasn’t part of his art, but it was part of what made the art successful.
“And it was obvious from the very first meeting that he had very strong ideas about where he wanted the band to go, and that reinforced just every other time I ever spoke to him.
“I don’t think anybody becomes that successful just by accident without a certain level of ambition, and when I wrote the book, I talked to Krist Novoselic about it, and he said Kurt was very intense when it came to his art.
“He insisted on rehearsing every day, and if you look at his journals, he had all these drawings from when he was a kid, of imagining Nirvana as a headliner and playing arenas.
“He had a vision for exactly what Nirvana became – a very successful artist that spoke the international language of mass-appeal rock ‘n’ roll but was rooted in the cultural values and intimacy of American punk.
“And he fused those two things together and created a whole current in the next chapter of what rock ‘n’ roll was. And in a way, Nirvana’s success, obviously, you had Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, they’ve been together before, maybe, but hadn’t been successful yet.
“He showed the music business, globally, that there was a younger audience that was sick of rock, what they called corporate rock, so he really had that vision.
“He had a lot of angst in his life, a lot of pain, but when it came to his art, which included the entire career of Nirvana, not just the songwriting, singing, and the guitar playing, but the production of the records, the artwork on the albums, the way they handled the media, the way they handled their touring career, that all came out of his vision.
“And he manifested exactly the way he wanted. It didn’t give him all the happiness he hoped it would, but it was absolutely accomplished. That was a conscious creation, it was not accidental.” Ultimate-Guitar transcribed his comments.