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“I think I went to get a pack of smokes at the gas station and in the paper was the thing about Kurt almost dying. He was in Italy. He took too many pills or something,” says Vedder on the audio project, of which PEOPLE has an exclusive clip. “And by the time I got home, I had a freakout, like a crazy breakdown, just going like ‘No, no, no.’ “
In early March 1993, Courtney Love found Cobain unconscious in a Rome hotel room after he asked a bellboy to fill a prescription for Rohypnol, according to Rolling Stone. Fifty pills were found in his stomach and he spent 20 hours in a coma.
“I couldn’t imagine the planet without him on it. I was totally terrified and I didn’t even know him that well and we only had a few conversations or passing by here and there and a couple of voicemails or whatever,” Vedder said in the audio.
“Man, I just thought like, ‘Oh please don’t let that be true. And please don’t let that be true,’ ” Vedder adds. “And then he survived that. And I was so grateful.”
Cobain died by suicide in his Seattle home the following month.
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“Every time I talk about this stuff, I think about Krist and Dave and I’m very appreciative of that relationship over the years and especially back then and I never want to see anything out of turn or even talk about it at all, to be honest,” he said.
Last month, Grohl spoke to PEOPLE about Nirvana’s legacy and shared that he thinks about Covain “all the time.”
“It used to be that years ago that I would hear a Nirvana song on the radio and turn the channel,” he said then. “I don’t do that anymore. I’ll go driving with my kids in the car and they’ll put on Nirvana….We don’t really sit around the house, talking about Nirvana all day long, but every once in a while, they’ll ask me questions and I’ll explain that life to them.”
About Cobain, he said, “I think about him all the time. I just had a dream about him two nights ago. I only knew Kurt for about three and a half years, but in that time we went through multiple lifetimes. Kurt’s songs touched the world.”
Vedder’s Audible Original I Am Mine is available Thursday on Audible.