Cobain shot himself in 1994 after failing to deal with the trappings of success. A piece of paper found by his body included the words “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
On hearing the tragic musician had quoted the line from his 1979 track, Young says he was deeply shaken.
In his autobiography Waging Heavy Peace he writes: “When he died and left that note, it struck a deep chord inside of me. It fucked with me.
“I, coincidentally, had been trying to reach him. I wanted to talk to him. Tell him only to play when he felt like it.”
Other musicians had tried and failed to reach out to Cobain in the last weeks of his life.
REM frontman Michael Stipe recently told how he tried to involve him in a musical project to keep him motivated.
Stipe told Interview: “We worked on two records in Seattle and Peter Buck lived next door to Kurt. We all knew each other. I reached out to him with that project as an attempt to prevent what was going to happen. I was doing that to try to save his life.”
In 2010 former Guns n’Roses bassist Duff McKagan recalled how he’d met Cobain on a flight to Seattle just days before the suicide.
In his newspaper blog McKagan said: “When we arrived in Seattle and went to baggage claim, the thought crossed my mind to invite him over to my house then and there. I had a real sense that he was lonely and alone that night. I felt the same way.
“I was in a big rock band and he was in a big rock band. We were standing next to each other. Lots of people stopped to gawk. I lost my train of thought for a minute, and Kurt said good-bye and left to his waiting town car. His new house was right down the street from my new house. I received a call from my manager two days later that Kurt had died.”
Young’s book Waging Heavy Peace is available now.
-Classic Rock Magazine