Jesse Frohman remembers the first time he met Kurt Cobain. “He said, ‘Do you have a bucket?'” It was July 1993, and the photographer had been waiting to shoot the Nirvana frontman for three hours at the Omni Hotel in New York. “I said, ‘What do you need a bucket for?’ And he said, ‘Cause I think I’m gonna puke.'”
Frohman captured Cobain sporting an ocelot coat, an anatomical T-shirt and a sherpa hat. When the singer died nine months later, the Jackie O–style sunglasses that shielded his blue eyes in the photo prevented the image from making the cover of magazines. Twenty-five years later, however, the shots have become iconic. “Photography like this marinates like a fine wine,” said Frohman. “I don’t even miss not seeing his eyes. It was very much who he was and it was very unique to him.”
Frohman’s photographs are part of the Morrison Hotel Gallery’s latest exhibit, Grunge: Rise of a Generation, which also features shots by Danny Clinch, Clay Patrick McBride, Karen Mason Blair, Henry Diltz and more. Running from today through March 31st in New York, L.A. and Maui, the collection — curated by NYC gallery director Marcelle Murdock, L.A. gallery director Casey Fannin-Kaplan and L.A. sales manager Jamie Bucherer — features images of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and other early-Nineties bands that helped popularize the Seattle Sound.
“There’s people that had profound experiences during that time,” photographer Lance Mercer told RS. “If they feel that with my photos, I’m humbled, honestly.”