This week, Tacoma-based musician John Purkey posted a number of videos on YouTube featuring rare Nirvana demo tapes which he says were personally given to him by the late Kurt Cobain. In each of the videos, Purkey explains the circumstances through which he received a given demo tape from Cobain and briefly runs down the content of the recording before letting them play. One tape is a copy of the oft-bootlegged, psychedelic home-recorded Cobain mixtape “Montage of Heck.” Another features early demos from what would become the band’s debut 1989 album, Bleach, recorded during their first-ever session at Riciprocal Studios in Seattle in 1988 with Melvins drummer Dale Crover on the drums. Another features an early demo of the songs that would become Nevermind with Crover on drums. Crover would leave the band and be replaced with Dave Grohl before the album was officially recorded.
As Spin explains, “The audio is raw, and many of the demos have seen the light of day via the numerous Nirvana compilations released after Cobain’s death, but the collection and backstory is interesting.” Purkey played in various local Tacoma bands during Nirvana’s earliest years, and watched the band develop from nothing into a worldwide phenomenon. As Purkey explains in an additional video regarding the tapes’ background, he has taken great care to preserve these rare Nirvana relics over the years, stashing them hidden in a metal box, inside a second metal box. The second tape, he explains, was stolen out of a friend’s car–along with his tape deck–years ago. Luckily, he had made a copy of the tape to send to his brother, and was able to recover the recording from his brother’s copy. A monsoon once threatened to destroy the entire collection, and Purkey ultimately sold two of the tapes at one point because he didn’t trust himself to protect them, although he did hold on to a letter from Cobain personally addressed to him.
You can listen to all of the newly-shared recordings and hear about their origins below, via Purkey’s YouTube page, the Observer:
First Demo (Montage Of Heck)
Third Demo – (Bleach)
Fourth Demo (Nevermind)
Backstory about the tapes:
[h/t – Spin]
[Cover photo – Cobain: Jeff Kravitz/Film Magic; Tapes: John Purkey]