On August 2nd of 1993, Kurt Cobain wrote the following letter to a hero of his: Beat legend William Burroughs. Cobain had been a fan of Burroughs for many years and in 1992 even collaborated with the author on The “Priest” They Called Him; however, to Cobain’s dismay, they still hadn’t met. And so, during preparation for the video to Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box, he wrote to Burroughs and asked him to appear, even if it meant disguising his face to avoid unwanted attention. His invitation was politely declined.
The pair did eventually meet, in October of that year. Cobain passed away six months later.
August 2, 1993
Mr. William Burroughs
WILLIAM BURROUGHS COMUNICATIONS
It’s a bit odd writing someone whom I’ve never met but with whom I’ve already recorded a record. I really enjoyed the opportunity to do the record — it’s a great honor to be pictured alongside you on the back cover. I am writing you now regarding the possibility of your appearing alongside my band (Nirvana) in the first video from our new album, “In Utero.”
While I know that Michael Meisel from Gold Mountain Entertainment (my management company) has been speaking to James Grauerholz, I wanted the opportunity to personally let you know why I wanted you to appear in the video.
Most importantly, I wanted you to know that this request is not based on a desire to exploit you in any way. I realize that stories in the press regarding my drug use may make you think that this request comes from a desire to parallel our lives. Let me assure you that this is not the case. As a fan and student of your work, I would cherish the opportunity to work directly with you. To the extent that you may want to avoid any direct use of your image (thus avoiding the aforementioned link for the press to devour). I would be happy to have my director look into make-up techniques that could conceal your identity. While I would be proud to have William Burroughs appear as himself in my video, I am more concerned with getting the opportunity to work with you than I am with letting the public know (should that be your wish).
Having said that, let me reiterate how much I would like to make this happen. While I am comfortable letting Michael and James discuss this further, I am available to discuss this with you at your convenience.
Thank you very much for your consideration.