Brixton Academy owner recalls chaos at venue when Kurt Cobain died before planned Nirvana gigs

However, Simon Parkes reveals how fewer than 20% of fans asked for a refund for the tragic no-show

The owner of London’s O2 Academy Brixton, Simon Parkes, has revealed the chaos which hit when Kurt Cobain died before a run of planned Nirvana gigs at the venue in 1994.

However, in an extract from his new book, Live At the Brixton Academy: A riotous life in the music business, published in The Guardian, Parkes explains how the venue managed to sidestep refunding thousands of tickets which “would come to over £250,000”.

Speaking on air to Zoe Ball at BBC Radio One following the death of Cobain, Parkes told the DJ that Nirvana fans from across the world were desperate to own the Nirvana ticket stubs as a piece of rock memorabilia. This claim was then picked up on by a number of news sources, writes Parkes. “My wild claim had been picked up on the news wire, been passed through the Chinese-whisper machine of the popular press, and gone global.” Most fans didn’t claim their refund, whilst those that did had their stubs sold on at an inflated price by Parkes’ team.

“I don’t know how we did it, but in the end fewer than 20% of ticket-holders demanded a refund. To those that did, we were happy to refund a ticket for £13.50 and then immediately sell it on for £100,” said Parkes. “Not only did we not go under because of Kurt’s death, bizarrely we ended up turning a profit on four gigs that never happened.” Kurt Cobain’s death was announced on April 8 1994 – the Nirvana shows at Brixton were set for 17-20 April of that same year.

The city of Aberdeen, Washington, will officially celebrate its famous son Kurt Cobain every year on February 20, the late Nirvana frontman’s birthday. Earlier this week Mayor Bill Simpson said: “Aberdeen residents may justifiably take pride in the role our community played in the life of Kurt Cobain and the international recognition our community has gained from its connections with Kurt Cobain and his artistic achievements.”

Plans for the day are not set, and Simpson said it is possible that the event could turn into a week-long celebration of Cobain. The event will be annual, with each February 20 being recognised as Kurt Cobain Day. The full proclamation will be read aloud on February 12.