- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2005

The late Kurt Cobain is the loose inspiration for Gus Van Sant’s new movie, “Last Days,” proof positive that the ill-fated Nirvana frontman has only grown in mystique since his death 11 years ago. This often happens to prematurely dead rock stars. Some, such as Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley, deserved the posthumous upgrade of their reputations. Others made great career moves:

Janis Joplin Just hold on a minute there, Janis-ite. Granted, her voice was a force of nature, but she had a sore lack of skills in the songwriting department. What are the chances that she would have endured like, say, Joni Mitchell? Slim, we say.

—Jeff Buckley He drowned in the Mississippi River and washed up near Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn. Rock-star demises don’t come more romantic than that. But the two albums that survive him — “Grace” and “Sketches (For My Sweetheart to Come)” — were merely good, not great. At any rate, not as great as Mr. Buckley’s reputation leads you to believe.

—Sid Vicious To this day — and thanks to movie treatments such as “Sid and Nancy” — the late gutter-dwelling Sex Pistols bassist defines the anarchic ethos of 1970s punk. Behind the myth, however, lie an inept musician and a sad case of self-destruction.

—Jim Morrison The Who’s Pete Townshend told the Doors frontman not long before he died that he was well on his way to becoming a “fat drunk—cqThus can we picture the Lizard King had he lived to see the present day.

Ritchie Valens — That Buddy Holly would have grown ever more sophisticated as a pop songsmith seems highly likely. Not so for his famous travel mate, whose brand of Latin pop might have gone the way of other pre-1960s rock novelties. We’ll never know — and movies like “La Bamba” have a way of filling history’s vacuum.



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