Heavier Than Heaven is my 2001 biography of Kurt Cobain. The book was published in September of that year and was a New York Times bestseller. The book has subsequently been published in 24 foreign languages. In March 2014, Hyperion Books re-released Heavier Than Heaven with a new prologue that details some of the events that occurred during the thirteen years since the book’s initial publication.

The book was based on interviews with over 300 individuals, and took nearly four years to complete. The New York Times called the book “masterful,” while the Los Angeles Times called it “one of the most moving and revealing books ever written about a rock star.” Heavier Than Heaven won the ASCAP Timothy White Award for Outstanding Musical Biography in 2002.

Here’s a selected list of reviews for Heavier Than Heaven:

“As engrossing as a good novel. Cross’ assiduous reporting shows through in every chapter. A remarkable portrait: A-.” —Tom Sinclair, Entertainment Weekly

“Definitive…. Cross untangles the soul of a man. A powerful portrait.” Anthony DeBarros, USA Today

“Groundbreaking…. A prosaic effort to strip away the hooey…. Cross’ book helps define Cobain’s terror.”—John Leland, New York Times Book Review

“Cross takes readers deeper into the life of the brilliant, troubled Kurt Cobain than anyone thought possible. Cross is able to find the threads linking Cobain’s personal life with his public output and is able to explain why these songs touched a chord with so many fans. The result is more than just an excellent book: Like Peter Guralnick, Cross helps reset the standards of what biographies—not just rock bios—should be. Rating: A.” —Mark Brown, Rocky Mountain News

“Serious and substantial. Extraordinary access to Cobain’s unpublished journals helps the narrative move like the best Nirvana anthems: a slow build, some off-kilter rhythms, softly seductive passages followed by loud screams and a devastating finish. Smells like the real deal.” —Jeffrey Ressner, Time

Heavier Than Heaven wins immediate entry into the rock lit pantheon. Five stars.” —Phil Sutcliffe, Q

“A fascinating, if sometimes frightful, read; a full-scale work that manages to be respectful of Cobain’s unlikely triumphs from poverty and also critical of his stunning excesses.… That readers of this new biography will come to know Cobain well is a direct result of Cross’ doggedness as a researcher and his credibility in the music community…. The short unhappy life of Kurt Donald Cobain now has its worthy biographer.”—John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Charles R. Cross has cracked the code in the definitive biography, an all-access pass to Cobain’s heart and mind.…The deepest book about pop’s darkest falling star.” Tim Appelo, Amazon.com

“An undeniable page turner.”—Spin

“In a compelling new biography of Cobain, Charles R. Cross dates the band’s first gig to a March, 1987, houseparty in Raymond, Washington, a nowhere logging town thirty minutes south of Aberdeen, the nowhere logging home town of the then twenty-year-old Cobain. That’s four and a half years before Nirvana broke through, with its second album, the cunningly produced major-label début Nevermind. It’s also eighty-seven pages into the three-hundred-and-fifty-two-page text, which reaches its midpoint before Nevermind is released. While this structure inevitably shortchanges the achievement of Nirvana itself, it’s a crucial source of the book’s considerable power. Cross asserts his compulsion to ask ‘questions concerning spirituality, the role of madness in artistic genius, the ravages of drug abuse on a soul’; the drug details are especially wrenching. But what emerges far more emphatically is the life story of someone who never grew up, someone whose maturation was half done before he was twenty-one, someone who extracted art from a perpetual adolescence that was over much too soon….”—Robert Christgau, The New Yorker

“Sets a high new standard. Like a Greek tragedy, the book is riveting, even though its events are always shaded by the reader’s frightening knowledge of how it is inevitably going to end. Cross traces Cobain’s terrifying final days on virtually an hour-by-hour basis, and he never flinches from the singer’s excruciating despair. Until someone writes a book that is more daring in its psychological and social analysis—and as thorough in its reporting—Heavier will be the place to start the dark journey into Cobain’s claustrophobic inner world.” —Anthony DeCurtis, Rolling Stone

“Cross is one of a rare breed of writers whose realistic scene-setting makes reading one of his works akin to physically being in the locale. His description of growing up in Grays Harbor is done as well as anyone who isn’t native…. Heavier Than Heaven will likely stand forever as the definitive Kurt Cobain biography.”—Jeff Burlingame, Aberdeen Daily World

“Fascinating. The most vivid account yet. Will enthrall even the most casual reader.”—Keith Cameron, Mojo

“Cross displays unconditional respect and admiration for the person behind the musician and the addict behind the addiction. The author’s humanitarian approach makes this biography unique, not just another tabloid fluffing or an exposé of an already over-inflated celebrity. It’s the reading equivalent of an addiction—every page is chock-full of information, yet you crave more and more, turning the pages with a hungry intensity. In his prologue, Cross notes that his goal with this book ‘was to honor Kurt Cobain by telling the story of his life without judgement.’ He has succeeded.” —Liv Fagerholm, January Magazine

“The definitive Cobain biography.” —Gene Stout, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Shakes up the prevailing conceptions of Cobain…. A compelling biography.” —Justin Waite, Biography

“A closely researched, clear-eyed look at the complicated, even mystifying character that was Kurt Cobain.”—Luis Cabrera, The Associated Press

“Cross’ research is impeccable: he seems to have interviewed everyone who ever knew Cobain. He writes with a fine mixture of sympathy and sense, weeding the myth of all its lies and exaggerations, but never minimizing the complexity of his subject. Heavier is, or should be, the last word on Cobain.”—The Daily Telegraph

“Cross transcends the other Cobain biographies.… A carefully crafted and compelling tragedy.” —Library Journal

“A thorough, cogent look at Kurt Cobain. Unusual integrity for the field. ”  —Mark Lindquist, The Seattle Times

“Fascinating and the most complete take on Cobain’s life.” —Julianne Shepherd, Portland Mecury

“Strikes a chord…. Fans will gape at Cobain’s extraordinary heroin intake during his band’s most productive period—and his lies about it. This is a cautionary tale of a talented, lucky musician who became fatally confused about whether fame was a reward or death sentence.”—Alec Foege, People

“The definitive book.” —Edna Gunderson, USA Today

“Of the two-dozen Cobain-related books, this is the first to take an authoritative, journalistic, and scrupulous look at the history of Cobain and his band…. With a meticulous yet engaging sense of detail, Cross delivers a staggering amount of information concerning everything from the contradictory and twisted relationships between Cobain and his band mates to the type of lunchbox he took on his first day of school…. With truths like these, who needs myths?” —Eric Nuzum, Public Arts

“Superbly researched and harrowing… The squalor is ghastly but the sheer sadness of Cobain’s brief life is beautifully conveyed here.  Cross has painstakingly accumulated a wealth of telling detail.”—Robert Sandall, London Sunday Times

“A biography worth reading. The book is especially good once we get past Cobain’s squalid early years to the moment when he suddenly wakes up to find himself the most famous pop star in the world.”—James Delingpole, The Sunday Telegraph

“The secret here is that Cross was allowed unprecedented access to Cobain’s world; his diaries, artworks and most significantly the people who surrounded him.  Cross may vividly depict the seemingly inevitable demise of a rock star but he also successfully conveys just what all the fuss was about in the first place.”—The List

“No other book on Kurt Cobain matches Heavier Than Heaven for research, accuracy, and insider scoops.”—New York Post

“A detailed, comprehensive and dispassionate major look at Cobain’s life…. This book is a rare thing—a rock biography that’s strongly written, looks at the world through open eyes and doesn’t assume its audience is full of idiots, yet retains an unspoken but always present moral grounding. Cross’ research makes for careful judgments, the narrative throughout seems persuasive, and he leaves few questions in the reader’s mind.”—Bill Wyman, Salon

“This book will remain on the shelf as one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll biographies of all-time. Anyone else who ever wants to write about Kurt Cobain will have to answer to this book.”— Sound Opinions, WXRT-FM

“Dozens of books have been written about Cobain, most of them ridiculously lurid or worshipful or uninformed. Heavier Than Heaven is the best, by far…. Excellent.” —Jeff Baker, Portland Oregonian

“Insightful, painstakingly researched…. As a piece of investigative journalism, Cross’ work is riveting. This is an expert telling of a hellish life. It’s impossible to read Heavier without becoming incredibly sad. But it’s a truthful sadness, and that, in its odd way, is a tremendous gift to those who love Cobain’s artistry.” —Chris Nelson, The Seattle Weekly

“Cross treats the strange, unhappy life of musician Kurt Cobain with intelligence and an insider’s perceptiveness….” —Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2001

“Exhaustively researched…. Unexpectedly vivid. Cross’ description of Nirvana’s first show could have been aired on VH1’s ‘Behind the Music.’… More riveting and suspenseful than a biography has the right to be.”—J.D. Considine, Blender

Heavier Than Heaven gives the most complete portrait of Kurt Cobain we may ever see.”—Peter Melton, Tower Pulse

“The definitive book on Cobain.” —Kieran Grant, Toronto Sun

“Leaps to the front of the class…. If you can read only one Kurt Cobain book, Heavier Than Heaven is definitely it.” —Ian McGillis, Montreal Gazette

“Finds the real man behind the image.” —Heath McCoy, Calgary Herald

“No book has ever delved so deeply into the psyche of Kurt Cobain.” —John Einarson, Winnipeg Free Press

“The definitive book. There have been great books on Cobain and Nirvana in the past, but never one this detailed and thought-provoking. An indispensable portrait of a dark, mercurially talented figure.”—Uncut

“The definitive Kurt Cobain biography. Full of information that even the most devoted fan will be shocked to learn, and written with flare and expertise.”—Alternative Press

Heavier is the best, truest kind of biography—an unsparing portrait laced with affection for the talent and the music.”—Michael R. Farkash, The Hollywood Reporter

“Many treatments have surfaced purporting to know the inside story of Cobain’s troubled existence and brilliant musical career—none has dug as deep or as close to home as Cross’ work.”—CNN.com

“Cross’ book is the definitive biography.” —Denise Sullivan, SFGate

“A well-researched, well-written piece of rock journalism.”—E! Online

Heavier Than Heaven is the biography that the most important rocker of his generation has always deserved: exhaustively researched, full of insight into the ‘real’ Cobain as opposed to the manipulated media image, and written in a clear and compelling if somewhat less than poetic voice. Even better, the book is ever-mindful of the fact Cobain despised the Baby Boomers’ romantic version of the ‘rock star myth,’ and nothing blows that to pieces more than a careful presentation of the facts…. For the real story about the boy, it is unlikely that any book will ever top Heavier Than Heaven.”—Jim Derogatis, Chicago Sun-Times

“The first comprehensive biography…. Heavier Than Heaven brings back a time when music had a rage, vision and power that had been lacking for years, when bands provided a soundtrack for a society emerging from a period of repression into one of possibilities. It’s a time from which we could all learn…. By keeping a steady eye on the facts, Cross mostly pierces the rumors, hype and conspiracy theories that have long confounded Nirvana’s place in history, while leaving the big-picture questions up to other commentators. At last, perhaps, Cobain’s ghost can find some peace.” —Evelyn McDonnell, Miami Herald

“Delves deep into the life and times of the Nirvana singer/guitarist…. Cross is up to the task of telling the tale of a band cut short in its prime. He deserves major kudos for his re-creation of the events surrounding Cobain’s tormented final days. Heavier Than Heaven makes a reader wonder yet again where a further evolution of Cobain’s musical gifts might have taken his fans.”—Mike Villano, Billboard

“Exhaustive. Cross’ biography—the product of four years’ work and 400 interviews—stands apart from other books on Nirvana, in its study of Cobain as a tortured but passionate creative force.”—Michael Ross, MSNBC

“A fascinating, honest account. Cross separates himself from the other Cobain biographers.” —Thalia S. Field, Harvard Crimson

“Cross manages to blend enough history and choice bits of information about the development of Nirvana that anyone with an interest in the music won’t be turned off by waves of tragedy…. The definitive biography of the reluctant voice of Generation X.”—Robert Morast, Argus Leader

“I was very glad to read this biography, the result of four years’ research and 400 interviews, not to mention the sainted Kurt’s police and medical records, and his unpublished journals. I was in hog heaven all the way through—in a caring, wistful way.”—Julie Burchill, The Guardian

“A joy to read. Compelling. The first authoritative account of Cobain’s life.”—Burhan Wazir, The Observer

“A definitive portrait.” Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune

“A must-read.”—Rockrgrl

“This new book should stand as the essential volume on the subject.” —James Sullivan, Book magazine

“Cross avoids soap-opera rock journalism and adeptly dispels the romanticized tragedy of Cobain’s suicide through a respectful dissection of his life.”—Seattle

“A standout among rock bios and deserves its place in pop-culture collections.”—Booklist

“Essential. This book will become the first resource for anyone, scholarly or not, wanting to understand Cobain, and for that matter, an entire time period in American culture. A formidable work by a great writer.”—Nathan Solheim, Anniston Star

“A sublime, uncanny portrait of perhaps the most important musical artist of the last ten years. The way Cross recreates Cobain’s final hours is beautifully written and paced…. By the end of the chapter I had my face in my hands, helpless against the tears.”—Dave Bidini, The Globe and Mail

“Addictive. Filled with insights.”—Bob Ivry, Bergen County Record

“A fine, novelistic approach to the subject, painting a vivid portrait. It could serve as a primer for record company executives who might someday deal with extraordinarily difficult rock stars. Heavier is the best, truest kind of biography—an unsparing portrait laced with affection for the talent and the music.”—Michael Farkash, The Hollywood Reporter

“A remarkable piece of investigative journalism. Thoroughly researched without overwhelming the reader and detracting from a compelling story. Tells the Kurt Cobain story as fully as any one document could.” —Paul White, Revolution

“A classic modern tragedy. Resonates with authority. Almost unimpeachable credibility.”—Eric Snider, Weekly Planet

“Like a time-lapse movie, the book makes me see Cobain vividly at crucial points in his life. This book reads like a novel of a tragic hero rather than a VH1 ‘Behind the Music’ biography.”—Angelique Gibbons, East Bay Express

“A sympathetic, yet cutting study of Cobain’s life and character. Cross’ even, factual tone avoids the taint of bitchy scene gossip. Like spectators to a runaway train crash, all we can do is turn the page and watch it happen.”—Greg Beets, Austin Chronicle

“Cross approaches Heavier with the love of a fan, and the professionalism of a journalist…. He never undermines Cobain’s talent with his humanity, instead allowing it to exist outside of the book’s timeline.”—R. Stokoe, Penthouse

“The definitive biography of Kurt Cobain, against which all others from here on will be judged.”—Bookreporter.com

“Literate, fair-minded, and enthusiastic. The definitive biography.” —Matt Parks, Sound of Youth