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Cobain, Kurt Donald (20 February 1967–05 April 1994), guitarist, singer, and songwriter for the rock band Nirvana, was born in the working-class lumber town of Aberdeen, Washington, the son of Donald Cobain, an auto mechanic, and Wendy Fradenburg Cobain, a waitress. Cobain remembered his early childhood as happy, but his father and mother struggled financially and divorced in 1976, devastating Cobain. By the time he reached high school, Cobain was engaging in petty delinquency and was arrested for vandalism and vagrancy. He began staying with various friends in Aberdeen, including Dale Crover, drummer of “grunge” progenitors the Melvins. He did not finish high school....

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Garcia, Jerry (01 August 1942–09 August 1995), rock band leader, guitarist, and singer, was born Jerome John Garcia in San Francisco, California, the son of Joe Garcia, a ballroom jazz musician and bartender, and Ruth (maiden name unknown), a nurse. Garcia was raised in a home filled with Spanish relatives and music. An active boy, he lost the third finger of his right hand in a childhood accident. Although he sang at an early age, he first aspired to become a painter....

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Holly, Buddy (07 September 1936–03 February 1959), songwriter, singer, and guitarist, was born Charles Hardin Holley in Lubbock, Texas, the son of Hardin O. Holley, a bricklayer, and Ella Pauline Drake. At age five Holly (who removed the e from his last name in 1956) won a $5 prize at a local talent show singing “Down the River of Memories.” His Protestant parents thought he would become a minister and had no idea his natural aptitude to compose and play music with a fiddle, piano, and guitar would lead to his international recognition as a rock and roll pioneer....

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Reed, Lou (2 Mar. 1942–27 Oct. 2013), rock songwriter, singer, and guitarist, was born Lewis Alan Reed in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Sidney George Reed, a tax accountant, and Toby Futterman. He began his schooling at PS 192 in Brooklyn. In ...

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Wilson, Dennis Carl (04 December 1944–28 December 1983), drummer and vocalist for the Beach Boys, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Murray Gage Wilson, the owner of a small heavy machinery company, and Audree Korthoff. The second of three Wilson children, he spent his childhood in Hawthorne, a middle-class suburb of Los Angeles, and was exposed to music at an early age by his father, an amateur musician. With his brothers, Brian and Carl, first cousin Michael Love, and friend Alan Jardine he helped form the Beach Boys, a band whose music forged a link between the simple guitar-and-vocals-based rock and roll of the 1950s and the more complex rock music that emerged in America and England in the 1960s....