Nirvana

  • Grunge rock band from Aberdeen Washington formed in 1987. The famous lineup consisted of Kurt Cobain (frontman, guitars, vocals, songwriter), Krist Novoselic (bass guitar) and Dave Grohl (drums).
  • Cobain and Novoselic went to high school together, although they did not associate with one another. They became friends when they both watched a local band, The Melvins, practice at a local performance space. Cobain gave Novoselic a demo tape of Cobain’s band, called Fecal Matter, and he asked Novoselic to join him in a new band. After 3 years, Novoselic finally listened to the tape, and agreed to start a band. They recruited a drummer, but after a month, things fell apart. Then, in early 1987, they recruited Aaron Burckhard for their drummer.
  • They needed a band name. Early choices were Skid Row, Fecal Matter and Ted Ed Fred. They settled on Nirvana – Cobain wanted something “nice or pretty.”
  • Cobain and Novoselic moved to Takoma Washington, and cycled through several more drummers. They cut their first demos in January 1988 with Dale Crover as the drummer, who soon left. Finally, as they were ready to start performing, Chad Channing joined Nirvana in May 1988.
  • Their first single was a cover of Shocking Blue’s Love Buzz, released in the Seattle area by an independent record label. They recorded their first album, Bleach, released in the summer of 1989. It displayed the grunge hard rock sound that was evolving in the Seattle area. The album was well received, but originally did not chart. It was re-released in 1992 after the band was successful, and peaked at #89 on the Billboard 200 Album chart. The MTV Unplugged version of About A Girl from the album was released after Cobain’s death, hitting #1 on the Alternative Songs chart.
  • In September 1990, still unhappy with the drummer situation in the band, they auditioned Dave Grohl, who had just left the punk band Scream. They immediately approved, and he joined the band.
  • They signed with a new record label, and released their second studio album, Nevermind, in September 1991. The album became legendary. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 Album chart, selling over 10 million copies in the U.S. and 30 million worldwide. Rolling Stone puts it at #17 on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 2005, the Library of Congress added the record to the National Recording Registry. It took grunge music to the mainstream globally, making it a cultural phenomenon.
  • The singles from Nevermind were Smells Like Teen Spirit, In Bloom, Lithium and Come As You Are. Smells Like Teen Spirit was something never before heard on the radio – 80s music was suddenly obsolete, and the sound of the 90s was grunge. The video for the song received major airplay on MTV, which fueled its success. Ultimately, the song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and at #1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.
  • In late 1992, Nirvana released a compilation album of old recordings. The album, titled Insecticide, reached #39 on the album chart.
  • The follow-up studio album by Nirvana was In Utero, released in September 1993. The band traveled to Cannon Falls Minnesota to record the album at Pachyderm Studios. The album debuted at #1, and ultimately sold over 5 million copies in the U.S. and 15 million worldwide. The singles Heart Shaped Box and All Apologies both hit #1 on the Alternative Songs chart.
  • The band’s final concert was in Germany in March 1994. Soon after the show, Cobain was found unconscious due to prescription drugs and alcohol. The rest of the European tour was cancelled, and Cobain began to use heroin again. He went into rehab, but left after a week, and on April 8, 1994, he died from a self-inflicted gun shot. Nirvana was no more.
  • The band received only 1 Grammy Award – Best Alternative Music Performance for MTV Unplugged In New York. Rolling Stone puts the band at #30 on their 2011 Greatest Artist of All Time list. Four songs are on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, with Smells Like Teen Spirit ranked at #9. Nirvana was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
  • In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that I lost touch with the 90s decade of music, and that I started to discover some of its greatness during the 00s. Nirvana was the first 90s band that I connected with. While hard rock isn’t high on the genres that I enjoy, some of it is so special that I have to appreciate it – and Nirvana tops the list of hard rock music that must be appreciated. They created an entire music sound – only a few legendary artists can say that. Here’s the video that changed everything – Smells Like Teen Spirit. 

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