Last summer, I made a rock 'n roll pilgrimage to the Pacific Northwest.
I paid my respects at the grave of Jimi Hendrix. I visited the site of Jack Endino's Reciprocal Studios in Seattle, where Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Green River and so many of my favorite bands recorded in the late 80's-early 90's. I sang on the same stage at Bob's Java Jive in Tacoma that Nirvana got kicked off.
And despite being warned by Buzz Osborne 20-something years ago to stay away because its a "sh*thole", I went to Aberdeen and saw Dale Crover's childhood home where the Melvins and Nirvana were born.
I even bought some records at the Sub-Pop store at the airport.
I also visited the homes where Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Alice in Chains' Layne Staley spent their unfortunate final moments.
Me, my friend Burt, and his girlfriend had Viretta Park, a leafy community area adjacent to Cobain's home, to ourselves for quite some time. Burt found a used condom. I peered over the fence to get a better look at the area where the greenhouse once stood. The greenhouse is where Kurt took his own life. It has since been demolished.
The front gate at 117 Lake Washington Blvd. was open, but everyone kept a respectful distance. It looked like the current owners were rebuilding the greenhouse area. Kurt's place was quiet, and peaceful, even as another carload of curiosity seekers appeared to replace us as we departed.
Staley's condominium building is on 8th Avenue in Seattle's bustling University District. The fairly non-descript building was built in 1996, the final year for the original Alice in Chains as touring band.
A random local told us how gentrified the neighborhood had become since it was built and that all the punks a graffiti writers had moved on.
Years ago, he said he saw a crusty looking guy in a leather jacket and thought to himself "I guess all the punks aren't gone after all". It turned out to be Layne, looking pretty worse for the wear. He was gone soon after.
Neither place had the air of a rock star. These rather low-key spaces should have been where these artists could retreat and enjoy the well earned fruits of their labor.
Instead, these are the places where depression and drugs took hold, and robbed their family, friends and fans of loved ones.
They are now places where morbid curiosity seekers like myself come to wonder "what if"?
And hopefully, heed their warnings.
RIP Kurt & Layne. You are missed.