Kurt Cobain’s Fender Telecaster “<3 Courtney"access_time First seen circa 1992
This guitar first appeared at Hordern Pavilion gig in Sydney, Australia on January 25, 1992. It originally styled a 3-tone sunburst finish, but Kurt sprayed the whole body with blue latex paint and carved out a heart and Courtney’s name on it. It also originally featured two single coils pickups – but the bridge pickup was replaced with a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails – something Kurt would often do on his guitars from this point on.
Kurt played this Telecaster regularly during the Oceania tour in January/February 1992, after which it for some reason disappeared. It appears that he didn’t mush at all until the infamous gig in Rio on January 16th, 1993 (considered by some to be one of band’s worst), when he broke the guitar’s neck and threw it into the audience. Allegedly one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers crew members picked up the neck, while the body is probably in the hands of a collector somewhere.
Kurt’s Telecaster seen in Californication TV Series
What appears to be Kurt’s original Telecaster, with all the body paint still present, appeared in Episode 7, Season 2 (‘In A Lonely Place’) of the TV show Californication. It is unknown whether this is the actual guitar or a prop made for the show.
For what it’s worth, Lew Ashby – character in the series who gave the guitar to Hank Moody, lives in a house that is in real life owned by Rick Rubin (an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records). The house, which many simply refer to as The Mansion, is also a recording studio and has been home to a number of artists, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Audioslave, and many others.
It is, therefore, possible that Rick is the actual owner of the guitar, and that he kept it in the studio. Producers saw it and simply decided to fit it into the story of one of the episodes.