March 7, 2012 at 9:00 AM ET
Before forming Nirvana, Kurt Cobain was a major fan of the Melvins, a then up-and-coming local band from Montesano, Wa., who equally enjoyed punk rock and heavy metal -- and helped create "grunge" in the process. And to show his appreciation of the band, Cobain drew a "Kiss mural" (similar to the cover of Kiss' self-titled debut) on the side of the Melvins' van -- and chauffeured the band to their shows. And now, the "Melvan" (which is a beat-up 1972 Dodge Sportsman Royal Van) is up for auction on eBay.
An eBay seller by the name of "taddoyal" is listing it, however, it is not the former singer/guitarist of the grunge band Tad (Tad Doyle) who is selling it, but rather a gentleman by the name of Ben Berg, who plays bass in the group Weird Beast. It turns out Berg has been in possession of the vehicle since around 1992. "When I turned 16, I got the van from Kay Lukin, who is Matt Lukin's mother [Matt was the Melvins' original bassist]. It was a gift mainly. You've got to understand, I was just this huge Melvins fan. They were like gods to me."
"When I found out that their old tour van was parked somewhere on the outskirts of Montesano, it was like a little pilgrimage for me, because I couldn't drive at the time. To actually go out and sit in this thing was like a wet dream. And Kay could see my enthusiasm and my pure awe over her son's old band. It had been sitting on their property for a few years. They didn't know what to do with it, so she made one of my dreams come true. That was my first car, dude!"
After Berg obtained the van, he discovered that it also had a connection to Nirvana. "I had no idea that Kurt was even affiliated with that van until well after it was in my possession. I was told that the Kiss mural was drawn by Kurt Cobain and it was done in Sharpie markers that he shoplifted. I was also told that he used to drive the Melvins around to their shows in the area."
Also, there is a chance that there is another Cobain-connection to the Melvan. "I think Kurt's name is carved somewhere in the van, as well. I don't know the exact location. I know that Krist Novoselic's name is carved in there. Dale Crover's name from the Melvins is carved in there."
And what about the mileage on the Melvan? "Oh god, it's off the chart. When the Melvins had it, they actually used it on their first US tour. They went all the way over to the East Coast in it. Buzz [Osborne] told me one time that somewhere on that tour they woke up to Lukin trying to put out a fire in the engine. It hasn't been started for years. It can run -- it needs to be totally gone through. It needs a major overhaul. But it can be done."
Lastly, what is Berg hoping to earn by auctioning the Melvan? "It's on eBay reserved at $150,000. If it's somebody with money right now that wants to contact me, I would let it go for like $135,000." Bidding is set to close on March 13.
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