Nirvana, Reading Festival

With the festival season upon us, we look back at the making of rock folklore

Nirvana were headlining amid wild rumours that frontman Kurt Cobain was in ill health or even dead. In fact he had been hospitalised 13 days before with stomach problems, and fans were shocked to see him pushed on stage in a wheelchair by band mates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, wearing a hospital gown. Cobain, however, jumped up out of his wheel chair and faux-frailty to lead the band into a rip-roaring rendition of Breed. Their performance was legendary; Michael Azzerad, writing in Rolling Stone, raved: "Cobain's ravaged pop songs [were] coming off like some dream marriage of the Sex Pistols and the Beatles."

The set was closed with a performance of Star-Spangled Banner, evoking memories of Hendrix’s 1969 Woodstock appearance and proving once again to be an ironic anthem of a bruised sub-culture.

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