Kurt Cobain’s smashed guitar from first Nirvana tour sells for more than £400,000

The 1973 Fender Mustang was smashed at a July 1989 gig

A guitar that the late Kurt Cobain wrecked on Nirvana‘s first tour has sold for $486,400 (£413,926) at auction – more than double the original estimate.

The 1973 Fender Mustang that was smashed onstage by Cobain during Nirvana’s US tour in 1989 went on auction at New York City’s Hard Rock Cafe on Friday (November 11).

Cobain played the Mustang in question at two shows during Nirvana’s US tour in 1989: a July 8 gig at Club Dreamerz in Chicago and a July 9 show at Sonic Temple in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. He broke the instrument at the end of the Wilkinsburg gig.

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The winning bid of $486,400 at Julien’s Auctions’ ‘Icons and Idols: Rock ‘N’ Roll’ event far exceeded the original estimate of $200,000 (£170,174).

As Consequence highlights, after the Wilkinsburg concert Nirvana crashed with Sluggo Cawley of the Boston band Hullabaloo, where Cobain spotted Sluggo’s similarly smashed Gibson SG.

Believing that he could repair the SG enough to break it again, Cobain offered to trade his Mustang for Cawley’s SG, which the later accepted. Cobain wrote on the guitar: “Yo Sluggo, Thank for the Trade! IF its illegal to Rock and Roll, throw my ASS in JAiL … NIRVANA.”

Cawley recalled the story in a 2020 interview with Innocent Words [via Julien’s]. “Kurt asked me if he could have the smashed Gibson SG I had hanging on my wall. So I said, ‘Sure, but now I won’t have one for my wall.’ Kurt replied, ‘I’ll be right back.’ He went out to their van and presented me a 1973 Fender Mustang that he deemed beyond repair. In sort of mock guitar hero worship, I asked him to sign it for me.”

Kurt Cobain performs with Nirvana in 1994. CREDIT: Fabio Diena / Alamy Stock Photo

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The Fender Mustang was been previously exhibited at Experience Music Project in Seattle between 2007 and 2008.

In other news, the UK’s most-streamed songs of each year from 1952 to 2022 have been revealed to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UK Singles Chart.

Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ (1991) is listed alongside Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ (1973), Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ (1995), Radiohead‘s ‘Creep’ (1992) and The Killers’ ‘Mr. Brightside’ (2003) and many others.

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