Cobain was born at Grays Harbor Hospital in Aberdeen, Washington on February 20, 1967, the son of waitress Wendy Elizabeth and automotive mechanic Donald Leland Cobain. His parents were married on July 31, 1965, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. His ancestry included Dutch, English, French, German, Irish, and Scottish. His Irish ancestors emigrated from Carrickmore, County Tyrone in 1875. Researchers found that they were shoemakers, originally named "Cobane", who came from Inishatieve, a townland within Carrickmore. They first settled in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, and then in Washington. Cobain himself believed his family came from County Cork. His younger sister, Kimberly, was born on April 24, 1970.
Cobain's family had a musical background. His maternal uncle, Chuck Fradenburg, played in a band called The Beachcombers; his aunt, Mari Earle, played guitar and performed in bands throughout Grays Harbor County; and his great-uncle, Delbert, had a career as an Irish tenor, making an appearance in the 1930 film King of Jazz. Kurt was described as being a happy and excitable child, who also exhibited sensitivity and care. His talent as an artist was evident from an early age, as he would draw his favorite characters from films and cartoons, such as the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Donald Duck, in his bedroom. This enthusiasm was encouraged by his grandmother, Iris Cobain, who was a professional artist.
Cobain began developing an interest in music at a young age. According to his aunt Mari, he began singing at the age of two. At age four, he started playing the piano and singing, writing a song about a trip to a local park. He listened to artists like the Ramones and Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), and, from a young age, would sing songs like Arlo Guthrie's "Motorcycle Song," The Beatles' "Hey Jude," Terry Jacks' "Seasons in the Sun", and the theme song to the television show of the band The Monkees. .