War hero was kicked out of Nirvana and Soundgarden
Jason Everman could have been forgiven for thinking he’d blown any chance of success in life after he was fired from Nirvana, then Soundgarden.
But he went on to a decorated career in the US Special Forces, where he’s regarded among those who know of his achievements as a hero.
In a detailed personal piece, the New York Times reports how Everman picked up a guitar while attending therapy in his junior high school years, and described discovering punk as the “first defining event of my life.”
He got the gig with Kurt Cobain’s fledgling outfit through early drummer Chad Channing in February 1989, and paid the $606.17 they owed for their debut album Bleach. Bassist Krist Novoselic recalls: “Jason was very generous. We had some great shows with him – but then things went south really fast. The fun stopped.”
Cobain didn’t actually dismiss the guitarist; instead the band just cancelled their tour and went home in silence. The frontman later described Everman as a “moody metalhead” – and never repaid the Bleach money, even though the record went on to sell over two million copies.
In 1990 he successfully auditioned to replace bassist Hiro Yamomoto in Soundgarden, and toured the US and Europe with them. But he was fired again when the band returned home, with singer Chris Cornell telling him it just wasn’t working out.
Everman admits: “It was a huge blow. I had no warning.” Some time afterwards he made the decision to join the Army: “I was in the cool bands – I was psyched to do the most uncool thing you could possibly do. Was I nervous? I was a little nervous. But I knew.”
As a Special Forces operative he refuses to say much about what his duties entailed. But he describes the combat experience as similar to working in a band: “The bond of locking shields with each other, working together to defeat a common enemy, it’s a heightened state. I knew this was it; this was living.”
Despite his silence, his sister Mimi knows he’s highly regarded after meeting some fellow Special Forces troops. “They didn’t approach like the usual fanboy who asked, ‘Your brother was in Nirvana?’ They came to me like, ‘Jason Everman is your brother? Dude, do you know what that guy’s done?’”
He left the Army in 2006, went to university and got a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Asked whether he might go on to be perhaps the “coolest college professor of all time” he says: “No way, man; I don’t have the patience. I’ll probably just be a bartender somewhere.”