Kurt Cobain’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ Guitar Is Up For Auction

·3-min read

An upcoming auction will give music fans an opportunity to own a piece of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana history.

Few guitars are as well known as the one Kurt Cobain was seen playing in the rock band Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video. This piece of music history is set to go under the hammer for the first time in May, as part of the major “Music Icons” sale at Julien’s Auctions.

Kurt Cobain’s guitar offered for sale by Julien’s Auctions is a left-handed 1969 Fender Mustang with a blue finish. The Nirvana frontman can be seen playing it in the video for the band’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” amid a crowd of pogoing high-school students. The video, first broadcast on September 29, 1991, on the MTV cable music channel, helped get Nirvana on the radar outside the grunge scene. Overnight, the band became a global sensation.

kurt cobain guitar auction
The 1969 Fender Mustang electric guitar was played by Kurt Cobain in Nirvana’s seminal ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ music video. (Images: Julien’s Auctions/ Nirvana/ Youtube)

This is the first time this guitar has appeared on the market. It has been on display for 12 years at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, along with other guitars that belonged to Woody Guthrie, Gene Simmons of KISS and Eric Clapton. For Julien’s Auctions, this 1969 Fender Mustang is “the electric guitar that changed music.”

And it was just as important to Kurt Cobain. The Nirvana frontman talked about it at length in his last interview with Guitar World magazine in the fall of 1991. “I’m left-handed, and it’s not very easy to find reasonably priced, high-quality left-handed guitars. But out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favorite. I’ve only owned two of them,” he said at the time.

Julien’s Auctions estimates that this instrument could be sold for between US$600,000 and US$800,000. This is a far cry from the US$6 million for which the semi-acoustic guitar used by Kurt Cobain during the recording of Nirvana‘s “MTV Unplugged” concert was sold in 2020, again at Julien’s Auctions. The latter made history by becoming the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction, dethroning the Fender Stratocaster used by David Gilmour, the guitarist from the British band Pink Floyd.

kurt cobain guitar auction
This is the first time Kurt Cobain’s left-handed 1969 Fender Mustang guitar is going to auction. (Image: Julien’s Auctions)

Another lot is likely to cause a stir at the Julien’s Auctions “Music Icons” event, which runs May 20-22 at the Hard Rock Café in Manhattan and online. This is a unique NFT of Kurt Cobain’s guitar technician, Earnie Bailey, discussing the historical significance of the 1969 Fender Mustang up for sale. It is estimated to fetch between US$6,000 and US$8,000.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the 1969 Fender Mustang, and other items once owned by the late Nirvana singer, will be donated to Kicking The Stigma. This initiative was founded by Jim Irsay, owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League, and his family to raise awareness about mental health disorders.

This story was published via AFP Relaxnews

(Hero and featured image: Robyn Beck/ AFP)

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