Kurt Cobain was the former front man, and primary songwriter, of the band Nirvana. Nirvana's album Nevermind is credited as bringing grunge music into the mainstream. Nirvana's music has appeared in numerous games, including the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises. Cobain struggled with drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and depression, ultimately committing suicide in April of 1994.
The Controversy Over Appearance In Guitar Hero 5
Kurt Cobain is an unlockable character in the rhythm game Guitar Hero 5
. Players can unlock him by completing either Nirvana song featured in the game, which are "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or "Lithium (Live)," at which point he can be used in any song, playing any instrument. The player can then make Cobain rap, dance around, or play air guitar, depending on the songs that the player picks.
This caused controversy, as some critics, former family, and friends of Kurt found Kurt's appearance inappropriate. They felt that his beliefs when alive ran contrary to this sort of use of his likeness. For example, one of Kurt's apparent motives for suicide was his difficulty with reconciling his commercial success and legitimacy as an artist. Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, issued a scathing tweet to this effect on her Twitter account, writing:
"For the record this Guitar Hero **** is breach of contract on a Bullys part and there will be a proper addressing of this and retraction....WE are going to sue the **** out of Activision Blizzard we being the Trust the Estate the LLC the various LLCs Cobain Enterprises".
Like Love, Cobain's former Nirvana bandmate Dave Grohl was unhappy about how Kurt was used in Guitar Hero 5. On the Foo Fighter's website, he wrote:
While we were aware of Kurt's image being used with two Nirvana songs, we didn't know players have the ability to unlock the character. This feature allows the character to be used with any kind of song the player wants. We urge Activision Blizzard to do the right thing in "re-locking" Kurt's character so that this won't continue in the future.
It's hard to watch an image of Kurt pantomiming other artists' music alongside cartoon characters. Kurt Cobain wrote songs that hold a lot of meaning to people all over the world. We feel he deserves better."
Activision Blizzard's Reaction to the Controversy
Activision Blizzard released a statement shortly after Courtney Love threatened legal action. It read:
"Guitar Hero secured the necessary licensing rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement signed by Courtney Love to use Kurt Cobain 's likeness as a fully playable character in Guitar Hero 5..."
Kurt Cobain continues to be a fully unlocked character in Guitar Hero 5.
The lawsuits affect on Guitar Hero 6
Due to the lawsuit that Cobains late wife had filed against Activision-Blizzard and another lawsuit that was filed also against the publisher from the Ska-Punk band No Doubt, Activision-Blizzard has made the decision to not include any real world rockstars within Guitar Hero 6.