Melvins’ Buzz Osborne recalls how Kurt Cobain was once sent to jail for graffitiing

The incident took place during their teenage years growing up in Aberdeen, Washington

Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne has recalled the time that Kurt Cobain was sent to jail for graffitiing.

Osborne and the late Nirvana frontman were close friends during their teenage years in Aberdeen, Washington, and the former retold one particularly memorable anecdote while speaking during a special Melvins livestream last weekend.

Addressing fans who tuned into the Melvins’ Divine Monkeyshines: Valentine’s Day Special on Sunday (February 14) – which was broadcast to promote the band’s upcoming new album ‘Working With God’ – Osborne recalled how he, Cobain and the former Melvins drummer Matt Dillard used to graffiti on walls across town.


“You try to think of something that’s gonna really burn all these people there,” Osborne explained of the motivation behind the practice, adding that his “favourite [graffiti] tag” was “God is gay” – a phrase that would later be used in the Nirvana song ‘Stay Away’.

“We walked around the corner of this bank and all of a sudden there’s cops, a bunch of cops everywhere,” Osborne continued about the night Cobain got arrested. “And we just take off running in different directions.

“All of a sudden, we heard [a car screech] around the corner. They had nabbed Cobain somehow. Like, he was hiding somewhere and he went to the joint.”

Nirvana's Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain during the taping of Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in 1993.

Cobain spent a night in jail after being arrested, with an apparent police report revealing that he was apprehended for spray-painting the phrase “ain’t got no how whatchamacallit” on a building.

“He was actually a really good artist, so if he spray-painted a picture it would really be good,” Osborne noted of Cobain’s artistic skills. “But usually it was very dark humour and not very PC.”


The Melvins musician also recalled the response he gave to a local journalist who asked him many years later about erecting a memorial to Cobain in Aberdeen following his death in April 1994.

“I got a call from some local reporter guy from the paper to ask me what I thought of all that,” Osborne remembered. “And I said: ‘You guys should put the memorial to Kurt in the same jail cell you threw him in.’ Click! End of the interview.”

You can re-watch the Melvins’ Divine Monkeyshines: Valentine’s Day Special here.

Speaking in a recent segment on Foo Fighters’ special Medicine At Midnight Radio series on Apple Music, Dave Grohl declared Cobain as “the greatest songwriter of our generation”.

“I’m very proud to say that I got to be his drummer and play those songs every night,” he added of his time in Nirvana with Cobain.