Kurt Cobain’s 1953 Martin D-18 “Grandpa”

This guitar was given to Kurt Cobain by his then-girlfriend Mary Lou Lord, sometime before the Nevermind tour in 1991.

In 1991 I met and befriended Kurt Cobain. […] My friendship with Kurt turned romantic almost immediately. It was really an amazing time for me. I was with Kurt nearly every day during the first part of that tour, and we were deeply in love. It was during this time that I learned he was in need of an acoustic guitar. I told him that I wanted to give him the best gift in the world – my Martin…which by now, he had also fallen in love with. He said that he would take the guitar under one condition, that if he ever got big he would either find another one, or he would keep this one and buy me another.

The Story of Grandpa

According to Mary, Kurt carried the guitar with him during the US tour, and Mary accompanied him during the first part of it. After Mery returned home, the band continued touring, and apparently, this was when Kurt met Courtney, and things got complicated. Mary and Kurt ended their relationship, but the guitar remained with Kurt. Sometime later, he returned it to Mary, arguing it wouldn’t be fair of him to keep it anymore.

The Guitar with Elliot Smith

The 1953 Martin that was used by Kurt in 1991, was also at some point used by Elliot Smith. According to Mary, she met him in the early 90s and took him on as her opening act in 1995.

In 1995 I took Elliot out on his first tour as my opening act. […] On both of the tours that Elliott and I subsequently did together, it was the Martin that we would end up playing into the wee hours of the morning in our hotel room…I believe that “Grandpa” is the ONLY instrument in the world that was played, adored, and loved by both Kurt Cobain AND Elliott Smith.

The Story of Grandpa

“Grandpa” Today

Again according to Mary (highly recommend that you read the article by her linked below the quotes for the full story), she sold the guitar at some point to Make’n Music in Chicago, IL – where the guitar resides to this day.

Submitted by: AnthonyL


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