You can mock his haircut, crack jokes about the "grunge" movement he pioneered, and even take a prurient interest in his suicide. But woe betide anyone who has the gall to suggest that Kurt Cobain might have once been fond of Bon Jovi.
Fans, lovers, and former band-mates of the late Nirvana frontman are united in outrage – and now threatening legal action – after discovering that his digital likeness can be used to "play" songs by a selection of soft-rock artists on the latest edition of the video game Guitar Hero. Players who reach an advanced level on the game are able to "unlock" Cobain's character and use it to perform tracks that would usually be the exclusive domain of a group of allegedly unfashionable performers, including Jon Bon Jovi and Billy Idol.
Yesterday Cobain's former band-mates Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl released a joint statement saying they were "very disappointed" that Guitar Hero's creators Activision had taken advantage of the small print in their lucrative licensing agreement to introduce the innovation. "While we were aware of Kurt's image being used with two Nirvana songs, we didn't know players have the ability to unlock the character," it read.
Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, was less diplomatic, describing the behaviour of the video game's creators as "vile" and "a travesty" and announcing via Twitter that she now plans to take legal action. "For the record this Guitar Hero shit is breach of contract on a bully's part and there will be a proper addressing of this and retraction," Love wrote. "We are going to sue the shit out of Activision."
Love, who helps run Cobain's estate, signed a contract allowing his image to be used in the game. However, she claimed not to have been aware that the agreement would result in him being allowed to sing songs by other artists. "I am not Yoko fucking Ono. No offence to her, but I am a different person entirely, and this is insane." US law protects a dead person's likeness under a statute known as the "Fred Astaire law". But experts said that it was inconceivable that Activision would have failed to secure the necessary permissions.