Guitar Hero CEO speaks out over Kurt Cobain row

Dan Rosensweig says there is 'confusion' between Courtney Love and the Nirvana singer's former bandmates about his virtual appearance in the game

The CEO of Guitar Hero has defended the appearance of a virtual Kurt Cobain in the company's new video game, saying Cobain's estate "cashed the cheque" and handed over rights to the former Nirvana singer's image.

This comes after Courtney Love threatened to sue developers last week, arguing that she never approved certain features involving her late husband's avatar.

"I can't speak for everybody being happy, [but we work] with complete consent from artists," Dan Rosensweig assured the NME. "There's absolutely a contract and we know that the cheque has been cashed. I can only deal with the facts. It's very clear what the terms are."

The recent controversy stems not from Cobain's inclusion in the guitar simulation video game, which had been known for weeks, but from his appearance as an unlockable character, who can be made to sing songs that are not by Nirvana. Thus, earnest Kurt Cobain, who killed himself in 1994, wailing along to Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name. After videos began to circulate online, Love offered a furious response. "[I] never signed off on ... this fucking feature," she wrote. "There's been four breaches of a very strict contract." Nirvana's two surviving members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, later released a statement asking Guitar Hero to "lock" the Kurt Cobain character. Even Jon Bon Jovi seemed to agree, telling reporters it was "a little forced".

Rosensweig insists Guitar Hero "[has] done what we've always done". "We went and spoke directly to the estate and made it crystal clear, got the rights [and] paid for the rights." In his view, this is an issue between Love – who he said signed off on everything – and the rest of the band, who clearly disagree. "I'm disappointed in this case that there seems to be confusion between the band and the estate," he said, "[but] it's really not Guitar Hero's confusion."

As for whether Guitar Hero would agree to lock the character, Rosensweig offered conciliatory talk - but no promises. "We love engaging in dialogues with artists," he said. "We care about the artists more than anyone else and we would like to make artists happy in every circumstance."


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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