Kurt Cobain-Decorated Melvins Van For Sale

The 'Melvan,' once driven and adorned by Nirvana's frontman, is up for auction on eBay

March 6, 2012 1:35 PM ET
Kurt Cobain-Decorated Melvins Van For Sale
Mitch Holmquist

Before forming Nirvana, Kurt Cobain was a major fan of the Melvins, a then up-and-coming local band from Montesano, Washington, who equally enjoyed punk rock and heavy metal – and helped create "grunge" in the process. And to show his appreciation of the band, Cobain drew a "Kiss mural" (similar to the cover of Kiss' self-titled debut) on the side of the Melvins' van – and chauffeured  the band to their shows. And now, the "Melvan" (which is a beat-up 1972 Dodge Sportsman Royal Van) is up for auction on eBay.

An eBay seller by the name of "taddoyal" is listing it, however, it is not the former singer/guitarist of the grunge band Tad (Tad Doyle) who is selling it, but rather a gentleman by the name of Ben Berg, who plays bass in the group Weird Beast. It turns out Berg has been in possession of the vehicle since around 1992. "When I turned 16, I got the van from Kay Lukin, who is Matt Lukin's mother [Matt was the Melvins' original bassist]. It was a gift mainly. You've got to understand, I was just this huge Melvins fan. They were like gods to me."

"When I found out that their old tour van was parked somewhere on the outskirts of Montesano, it was like a little pilgrimage for me, because I couldn't drive at the time. To actually go out and sit in this thing was like a wet dream. And Kay could see my enthusiasm and my pure awe over her son's old band. It had been sitting on their property for a few years. They didn't know what to do with it, so she made one of my dreams come true. That was my first car, dude!"

After Berg obtained the van, he discovered that it also had a connection to Nirvana. "I had no idea that Kurt was even affiliated with that van until well after it was in my possession. I was told that the Kiss mural was drawn by Kurt Cobain and it was done in Sharpie markers that he shoplifted. I was also told that he used to drive the Melvins around to their shows in the area."

Also, there is a chance that there is another Cobain-connection to the Melvan. "I think Kurt's name is carved somewhere in the van, as well. I don't know the exact location. I know that Krist Novoselic's name is carved in there. Dale Crover's name from the Melvins is carved in there."

And what about the mileage on the Melvan? "Oh god, it's off the chart. When the Melvins had it, they actually used it on their first US tour. They went all the way over to the East Coast in it. Buzz [Osborne] told me one time that somewhere on that tour; they woke up to Lukin trying to put out a fire in the engine. It hasn't been started for years. It can run – it needs to be totally gone through. It needs a major overhaul. But it can be done."

Lastly, what is Berg hoping to earn by auctioning the Melvan? "It's on eBay reserved at $150,000. If it's somebody with money right now that wants to contact me, I would let it go for like $135,000." Bidding is set to close on March 13th.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »