The April '96 edition of High Times featured an article called "Who Killed Kurt Cobain?"
written by Tim Kenneally and Steve Bloom. In this article the authors aired the views of Tom Grant, El Duce and Hank Harrison (Courtney's father.)
El Duce was a first degree beer gut. He was the singer for a notorious band called the
Mentors, who, strangely enough, played their debut gig at a club called The Bird in Spring Street, Seattle, on March 4 1978. Courtney met El Duce in the late 80's.
A founder member of her band Hole was Caroline Rue who was going out with Eric Carlson, aka Sickie Wifebeater, who was the Mentors guitarist.
The fact that El Duce had some knowledge of/connection with Seattle would be useful.
During the High Times article El Duce claimed that in the last day's of December 1993,
Courtney Love pulled up outside The Rock Shop, a Hollywood record shop, at 1644 Wilcox Ave, Hollywood, and spoke to him. The conversation went:
C Love: "El, I need a favour of you. My old man's been a real asshole lately, I need you to blow his fucking head off."
El Duce: "Are you serious"?
C Love: "Yeah, I'll give you $50,000 to blow his fucking head off."
El Duce: "I'm serious if you are".
CLove: "Where can I reach you"?
El Duce: "You can reach me here".
They then went into the store and he handed her a business card. The manager of the shop, Karush Sepedjian remembers the visit. He said: "El was kicking it out on the bench in front of the store and she came up. I overheard her saying, "Can you handle doing this? Can you get this done? What do you want for it"? They were talking about knocking off Kurt Cobain. Then El brought her inside and said to me quietly, "She offered me $50,000".
Love then took a business card and left. Sepedjian then went on to say that in March 1994 Love contacted the shop asking for El Duce, who at the time was on tour. Courtney was screaming: "That son of a bitch, we made an agreement. What am I going to do"?
Sepedjian replied: "I don't know, I've got a business to run. Goodbye."
Ten days later Kurt's body was found. This would imply that she spoke to Sepedjian around March 30th 1994. Could this be the "business" she told Carroll and Grant that she had to attend to, rather than going back to Seattle to look for Kurt?
Sepedjian went on to say: "I was like Whoa! I wonder if she actually did pay some sucker to blow off his head"? El Duce said; "Maybe she got somebody else. I think Kurt was getting ready to divorce her for adultery charges. She had to have him whacked right away so she could get the money."
Wallace and Halperin provide a section on El Duce in their Who Killed Kurt Cobain? book. It is along similar lines as the High
Times article. Sepedjian described Courtney as screaming, when she called The Rock Shop to speak to El Duce, in WKKC? Sepedjian uses the word "frantic"
"She was frantic".
This is similar to the way Joe Mama described her. Joe Mama saw Courtney on April 1st 1994. He also saw Kurt just before Kurt left the rehab on April 1st. Joe Mama said of Kurt: "I was ready to see him look like shit and depressed. He looked fucking great!"
He then said of Courtney when he saw her on April 1st after Kurt left: "She was really freaked out, so we drove around looking for him at all the places he might have gone. She was really scared from the beginning. I guess she could tell." (Cobain by the editors of Rolling Stone page 83).
The important question here, in the light of the El Duce and Sepedjian information, information Courtney has tried hard to suppress but not by legal means, but by intimidation, is, was she scared and freaked because of her concern for Kurt? Or was she in this state because her plans were in imminent danger of collapsing?
And as Kurt was AWOL, she had no control over him, he could sign his new will & file for divorce on the grounds of adultery.
Do I go with Joe Mama's possible misinterpretation of Courtney's behaviour, and let's face it, Joe thought Kurt looked "fucking great!" Or do I go with El Duce? who has passed a polygraph test. I have to go with El Duce. It's not like he gained anything by his claims, he just ended up dead, like Kurt.
And another possibility which springs to mind is this, when Courtney and Joe were driving
around looking for Kurt, was she actually trying to locate El Duce, or maybe find someone else to take care of business? unbeknownst to Joe who really was trying to find Kurt. Joe, how do you reconcile your perception of Kurt looking so great, with Courtney's claims that he was suicidal?
Tom Grant when he heard of El Duce's claims, was sceptical. He said: "Why didn't they come forward sooner? At first I thought maybe Courtney put them up to it to set me up. I could start talking about these guys as proof and then they would come out and say they made the whole story up. I would then be discredited and have no more credibility."
On March 6th 1996, El Duce underwent and passed a lie detector test administered by Dr. E. Gelb a leading polygraph examiner. He administered a polygraph test to O.J. Simpson two days after the murder of his wife and said that O.J. failed the test quite badly. According to Dr. Gelb, El Duce's story is completely truthful.
To the question "Did Courtney Love ask you to kill Kurt Cobain?" Duce's positive response showed a 99.91% certainty that he was telling the truth, which falls into the category "beyond possibility of deception". Duce also score the same when the question was repeated. When asked the question "Were you offered $50,000 by Courtney Love to kill Kurt Cobain?" Duce scored a slightly less impressive 99.84% score.
Following these tests Duce contacted the Seattle Police Departments Homicide division and also the Los Angeles Police Dept. Both he and Sepedjian have offered to take similar tests for the police, but both departments have declined to persue an investigation.
Why? Why do the Seattle Police constantly deny that there are legitimate reasons to reopen this case? I think it must be for the reason that their initial investigation was so completely inept, that it would be a major embarrasment.
During the Green River Murders in Seattle, in the 80's the Seattle Homicide Dept ruled out suspects on the strength of their polygraph results. Why, then, do they choose to ignore El Duce's pass on the polygraph test? See The Search for The Green River Killer, by Carlton Smith and Tomas Guillen published by Signet True Crime.
To anyone who ever benefitted, on any level, from the work of Kurt Cobain, and who want to see his death treated with the respect and dignity that he deserves, rather than the lies and farce bestowed by Courtney, I would suggest that they actively become involved in pressuring for a new Independent Investigation into the circumstances of his death.
Love and her legal representative's have refused to confirm or deny whether she was in Los Angeles during this period, despite Wallace and Halperin's repeated requests. They told them that if they could provide concrete evidence that she wasn't in L.A. at the time of Duce's claim, they would dismiss the story as a fabrication.
Nirvana did a gig at The Great Western Forum Inglewood, CA. on December 30 1993. Inglewood is no further than 10 miles from Hollywood, and it is well known Courtney travelled with Kurt, so the chances are pretty high that she was in L.A. on December 30th 1993, which would support El Duce's claims. (Cobain by the editors of Rolling Stone page 142).
Love's lawyers refused to provide information on her whereabouts at this time but have tried to discredit other parts of Duce's claims. Her attorney Seth Lichtenstein pointed out El Duce said in one interview that he was seated on a bench outside the Rock Shop when Courtney approached to make the offer. Lichtenstein correctly asserts that there was no bench outside the store and concludes that El Duce must therefore be lying.
Wallace and Halperin replied to this with: "Both Hoke and Sepedjian claim that Hoke actually said he was sitting on a bench inside in the front of the store, not outside in front of the store, and that he may have been misquoted.” In an interview El Duce gave to Wallace and Halperin, they say Duce made no mention of sitting on a bench outside the store.
There is a discrepancy with regards to a bench being either inside the front of the
shop, or outside in front of the shop. Maybe this is a misquote, I don't know, but it is Sepedjian who is possibly misquoted, not El Duce. When you take into consideration the following:
1. Courtney could well have been in L.A. at the time stated by El Duce.
2. El Duce passed a polygraph test proving he wasn't lying.
3. The undeniable fact that Courtney knew El Duce quite well.
4. The overall description of both El Duce's and Sepedjian's claims and how they fit into the framework of a planned murder, and that they also go a long way in explaining Courtneys' otherwise illogical and contrary behaviour during the time Kurt was missing.
All of these things go someway in substantiating their claims, and to throw out a whole possible lead in an important case purely on the ground of a misquote/misunderstanding would be appalling folly. Especially when one of the men making those claims eventually died in murky circumstances. Would Courtney agree to take a polygraph test stating that she didn't offer money to have Kurt killed? Hank Harrison offered to cover the expense of doing just this. His offer was declined.
NICK BROOMFIELD'S INTERVIEW WITH EL DUCE (Uncensored)
Scene, Broomfield is taken to meet El Duce at his abode in Riverside, L.A. by Divine Brown's
pimp, who is a close personal friend of El Duce.
Pimp: "There he is, El Duce."
Broomfield: "Where? Oh yes."
Pimp: "There he is right there. This is him, El Duce."
El Duce: "Yaaargh. Where's the booze?"
Pimp: "He's just perverted!"
El Duce: "Yeah, a warped er, intoxicator, most of the time."
Broomfield: "So you er, did some deal with Courtney right?"
El Duce: "Yes."
Here Broomfield interjects the interview explaining that under British Libel Laws he was
forced to cut these allegations. It was impossible to substantiate any of El Duce's allegations.
Broomfield: "That's a fact is it?"
El Duce: (laughs.)
Broomfield: "People might think that you are not the most reliable witness."
El Duce: "Well, that's too bad. You may not be the reliable witness your own self, now think about that!" (laughs.)
Broomfield again interjects with: "El Duce, I found out was well known in the L.A. music scene. A wild man with a strong following. He claims to have known Courtney over the years and that she came to the Rock Shop and made him an offer. Unfortunately it is this offer we were unable to substantiate. An offer that El Duce claims was very extreme. And that there was no way that it could be reproduced without having hard evidence that it was true. And under British libel laws as they stand today, that would be impossible."
El Duce: "I just didn't think she was serious. (laughing.)
Broomfield jumps in with: "Unfortunately he was just a bit too wild and brilliant for the English libel laws.But she didn't say anything about making."
El Duce: cuts him off with, "Make it look like a suicide."
Broomfield: "Well, yeah, but if you just blew his brains out like you said, it wouldn't look like a suicide, it would look like you blew his brains out."
Come on Nick, It was widely and hastily reported that this was a suicide. It has been widely accepted by the press and Seattle Police Dept that it was a suicide. All this acceptance whose foundations are built on a flawed investigation, and dubious information supplied by none other than Courtney Love and unnamed sources.
There are at least two photographs published of Kurt holding a gun to his head, one of which was taken by Yuri Lenquette, who later admitted asking Kurt to strike that pose (WKKC? page 87).
Kurt has even been in print saying about blowing his brains out. So, of course, this plan for murder would perfectly match the "Suicide" story.
The photos and quotes could easily have been used as the blueprint for murder. How many times have I/You held two fingers to my/your heads pretending it was a gun and that I/You were going to pull the trigger? as a joke.
Unfortunately for Kurt these actions appeared in print and were later used as examples of his suicidal nature. Used one must say, by a widow who stood to inherit a fortune from his death by "suicide".
And remember, Kurt was in the process of writing a new will which was to exclude Courtney, and was going to leave her, divorce her.
Many people contemplate and talk about suicide, but that doesn't make it inevitable that they will die by suicide.
El Duce: "Right, but er, I told Alan, (looks up sheepishly towards Divine Brown's pimp)- I mean er, my friend who (starts laughing) aah, I'll let the FBI catch him, but er, (laughs, that's just the way it's done. End of Story (laughs again). Hey 50 grand does a lot of talking. You buy me a beer I might do some more talking, (laughs, looks into the camera, and after a short pause) Yaaaaargh!"
Remember the name Alan, as it comes up again shortly.
Broomfield: "and that seemed to be the end of the interview. I didn't know quite what to think. El Duce had passed a polygraph test, even though his main witness (Sepedjian,) had nodded off before its completion."
The polygraph was completed before Broomfield started making the film, so Broomfield could have treated the interview from the standpoint of an informed documentor rather than the slightly bungling fool.
Why didn’t you question the police’s choice to ignore this test, Nick? I would like to know what ended up on the cutting room floor, I'm sure that you kept all the footage eh, Nick? It will probably be used as evidence at a future date.
About a week after El Duce's interview with Broomfield, on April 19, 1997 El Duce was killed by a train in Riverside, L.A. The events surrounding his death are murky.
Rather like the events surrounding Kurt's death.
Wallace and Halperin report that at 5pm Duce arrived at his house with a man he said he had just met.
After a while they left the house to go to the liquor store saying that they would be back
shortly. They never returned. At 9pm Duce was hit by a train and died instantly. There were no witnesses. Police were unable to locate the man seen with Duce that afternoon.
Music journalist and friend of Duce, Al Bowman said: "There is something very, very strange about his death. Anybody who knew El knew that you could make friends with him by offering to buy him a drink. He had a problem with alcohol." When asked if he thought El Duce was suicidal he replied: “No way. He was all exited about his upcoming tour. He was in good spirits. He didn't kill himself. I'm convinced this has something to do with Kurt Cobain."
There are remarkable similarities between the way Kurt died and the way El Duce died. Bowman did not think El Duce was suicidal, look at his above quote again, it sounds remarkably like what Dylan Carlson, Kurt's best friend, said when he was asked if he thought Kurt was suicidal: "Kurt was facing lots of pretty heavy things, but he was actually pretty upbeat. He was prepared to deal with things facing him. He was making all kinds of plans for when he got back from rehab."
Kurt and El Duce shared several constants in their lives:
1. Both of them got on the wrong side of Courtney Love.
2. Both of them were a threat to her.
3. Both died under mysterious circumstances.
4. Neither of them was suicidal.
Why did El Duce die when he did? He had already performed the polygraph test, his claims were out in the open for a while before he died. At the time this whole murder was beginning to be widely accepted, it was, and still is, gaining strength and credibility. El Duce died shortly after his interview with Broomfield. During that interview he mentioned someone called Alan and immediately after he said that name, he said: "We'll let the FBI catch him."
The interview ended fairly abruptly thereafter. That is something to think about.
Tom Grant still remains sceptical of the El Duce revelations and is unwilling to speculate on the death of Duce, saying he doesn't have enough information. (WKKC?)
I am indebted to Grant for providing relevant information. But for him no-one would be aware of the real circumstances going on at the time. He has recorded conversations with Love and Carroll. Courtney and her lawyers have threatened many times to sue their detractors, but never have.
In 1995 Courtney finally admitted to Request magazine that she had taken heroin during her pregnancy (something she denied when the Vanity Fair article came out in 1992),
"or else I would have sued her (Hirschberg's) ass off".
That must be why she won't sue Grant, Wallace, Halperin, Broomfield et al, because if she did she would find herself in deep trouble.
As she refuses to defend her reputation in a legal way she cannot be surprised when people choose to believe Grant, everyone has the right to an opinion.
It is not surprising that Grant doesn't wish to speculate on El Duce, this is a part of the puzzle he has no direct experience of. El Duce does, however, seem to be a part of the puzzle that Courtney Love created.
It is up to the police to investigate suspicious deaths, not a Private Investigator.
The police can no longer substantiate the theory that Kurt's death was a suicide. It is becoming increasingly obvious that this verdict was contrived. Until a new Independent Investigation is opened, possible witnesses will appear "evasive", "reluctant". They don't want to wind up dead, like El Duce, Kristen Pfaff and Detective Antonio Terry.
There is too much evidence of foul play.
This case must be reopened/investigated. Public opinion is not illegal, and it can pressure to this end.
Most importantly though is that Justice is done for Kurt Cobain.
Agree? Disagree? Send your opinions and thoughts directly to Frances Barnett.
Her website is located at http://www.indefenceofkurtcobain.com