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Nirvana was an American
rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemical composition and the way in w ...
band formed in
Aberdeen, Washington Aberdeen () is a city in Grays Harbor County, Washington, Grays Harbor County, Washington (state), Washington, United States. The population was 16,896 at the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census. The city is the economic center of Grays Harb ...
in 1987. Founded by lead singer and guitarist
Kurt Cobain Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) was an American singer, songwriter, artist and musician. He was the frontman of the rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring so ...
and bassist
Krist Novoselic Krist Anthony Novoselic (; ; born May 16, 1965) is an American musician and activist best known as the bassist and a founding member of the rock band Nirvana. After Nirvana disbanded following the death (1906) Death is the permanent, ...

Krist Novoselic
, the band went through a succession of drummers, most notably Chad Channing, before recruiting
Dave Grohl David Eric Grohl (born January 14, 1969) is an American musician. He rose to fame as the drummer for the grunge Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is an alternative rock genre and subculture that emerged during the in the Ame ...

Dave Grohl
in 1990. Nirvana's success popularized
alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widely popular in the 1990s. "Alternative" refers to th ...
, and they were often referenced as the figurehead band of
Generation X Generation X (or Gen X for short) is the demographic Cohort (statistics), cohort following the baby boomers and preceding the millennials. Researchers and popular media use the mid-to-late 1960s as starting birth years and the late 1970s to ear ...

Generation X
. Their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern
rock and roll Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll, rock 'n' roll, or rock 'n roll) is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and st ...

rock and roll
culture. In the late 1980s, Nirvana established itself as part of the Seattle
grunge Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is an alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of that emerged from the underground of the 1970s and became wi ...
scene, releasing its first album, ''
Bleach Bleach is the generic name for any chemical product that is used industrially and domestically to remove color from a fabric or fiber or to clean or to remove stains in a process called bleaching. It often refers, specifically, to a dilute so ...
'', for the independent record label
Sub Pop Sub Pop is a record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are used in ...

Sub Pop
in 1989. They developed a sound that relied on dynamic contrasts, often between quiet verses and loud, heavy choruses. After signing to major label
DGC Records DGC Records (an initialism for the David Geffen Company) was an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or servic ...
in 1991, Nirvana found unexpected mainstream success with "
Smells Like Teen Spirit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a song by American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, it ...
", the first single from their landmark second album ''
Nevermind ''Nevermind'' is the second studio album by American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, ...

Nevermind
'' (1991). A cultural phenomenon of the 1990s, ''Nevermind'' was certified
Diamond Diamond is a Allotropes of carbon, solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. At Standard conditions for temperature and pressure, room temperature and pressure, another solid form of ...
by the
RIAA The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization A trade association, also known as an industry trade group, business association, sector association or industry body, is an organization founded and funded by busi ...
and is credited for ending the dominance of
hair metal Hair is a protein filament In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Phy ...
. Characterized by their
punk Punk or punks may refer to: Genres, subculture, and related aspects * Punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted in 1960s garage rock, punk bands rejected the perceived excesses of mainstream 1 ...
aesthetic, Nirvana's fusion of
pop Pop or POP may refer to: Places * Gregorio Luperón International Airport (IATA code POP), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic * Pop, a tributary of the river Jijia in eastern Romania * Poppleton railway station (station code), York, England People ...
melodies with
noise Noise is unwanted sound In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiology and psychology, sound is the ''reception'' of such waves and t ...

noise
, combined with their themes of
abjection The term abjection literally means "the state of being cast off". The term has been explored in post-structuralism as that which inherently disturbs conventional identity and cultural concepts. Among the most popular interpretations of abjection ...
and
social alienation Social alienation is a situation where an individual feels disconnected from a group of which they believe themselves a part, be it friends, family or wider society. It has been described as "a condition in social relationships reflected by (1) a ...
, brought them global popularity. Following extensive tours and the 1992 compilation album ''
Incesticide is a compilation album by the American rock band Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Budd ...
'' and EP '' Hormoaning'', the band released their highly anticipated third studio album, ''
In Utero The uterus (from Latin "uterus", plural ''uteri'') or womb () is a major female hormone-responsive sex organ, secondary sex organ of the reproductive system in humans and most other mammals. Things occurring in the uterus are described with the ...
'' (1993). The album topped both the US and UK album charts, and was acclaimed by critics. Nirvana disbanded following Cobain's suicide in April 1994. Various posthumous releases have been overseen by Novoselic, Grohl, and Cobain's widow
Courtney Love Courtney Michelle Love (née Harrison; born July 9, 1964) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. A figure in the alternative rock, alternative and grunge scenes of the 1990s, her career has spanned four decades. She rose to prominence ...

Courtney Love
. The posthumous live album ''
MTV Unplugged in New York ''MTV Unplugged in New York'' is a live album packaged in book form, like a photograph album A photographic album or photo album, is a series of photographic prints collected by an individual person or family in the form of a book. Some b ...
'' (1994) won Best Alternative Music Performance at the
1996 Grammy Awards The 38th Annual Grammy Awards were held on February 28, 1996, at Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles. The awards recognized accomplishments by musicians from the previous year. Alanis Morissette was the main recipient, being awarded four trophies, incl ...
. Nirvana is one of the best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide. During their three years as a mainstream act, Nirvana received an
American Music Award The American Music Awards (AMAs) is an annual American music awards show, generally held in the fall, created by Dick Clark Richard Wagstaff Clark (November 30, 1929 – April 18, 2012) was an American and , television producer and f ...
,
Brit Award The BRIT Awards (often simply called The BRITs) are the British Phonographic Industry The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) Ltd is the British recorded music industry's trade association A trade association, also known as an industry t ...
and
Grammy Award The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy, the US Recording Academy to recognize "Outstanding Achievement in the music industry" of the United State ...
, as well as seven
MTV Video Music Award The MTV Video Music Awards (commonly abbreviated as the VMAs) is an award show presented by the cable channel MTV to honor the best in the music video medium. Originally conceived as an alternative to the Grammy Awards (in the video category), ...
s and two
NME Awards The NME Awards is an annual music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), ...
. They achieved five number-one hits on the ''
Billboard A billboard (also called a hoarding in the UK and many other parts of the world) is a large outdoor advertising Out-of-home (OOH) advertising, also called outdoor advertising, outdoor media, and out-of-home media, is advertising experienced ...
''
Alternative Songs Alternative Airplay (formerly known as Alternative Songs and Modern Rock Tracks) is a music chart A record chart, in the music industry, also called a music chart, is a ranking of Sound recording and reproduction, recorded music according ...
chart and four number-one albums on the ''Billboard'' 200. In 2004, ''
Rolling Stone ''Rolling Stone'' is an American monthly magazine that focuses on music, politics, and popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish ...
'' named Nirvana among the 100 greatest artists of all time. They were inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF), sometimes simply referred to as the Rock Hall, is a museum A museum ( ; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is a building or institution that Preservation (library and archival science), cares for a ...

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
in their first year of eligibility in 2014.


History


Formation and early years (1987–1988)

Singer and guitarist
Kurt Cobain Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) was an American singer, songwriter, artist and musician. He was the frontman of the rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring so ...
and bassist
Krist Novoselic Krist Anthony Novoselic (; ; born May 16, 1965) is an American musician and activist best known as the bassist and a founding member of the rock band Nirvana. After Nirvana disbanded following the death (1906) Death is the permanent, ...

Krist Novoselic
met while attending Aberdeen High School in Washington state. The pair became friends while frequenting the practice space of the
Melvins Melvins are an American Rock music, rock band formed in 1983, in Montesano, Washington. Their early work was key to the development of both grunge and sludge metal. They originally performed as only a trio but later also sometimes appeared as a ...
. Cobain wanted to form a band with Novoselic, but Novoselic did not respond for a long period. Cobain gave him a demo tape of his project
Fecal Matter Feces (American and British English spelling differences#ae and oe, or faeces) is the solid or semisolid remains of food that was not digested in the small intestine, and has been broken down by bacteria in the large intestine. Feces contains a ...
. Three years after the two first met, Novoselic notified Cobain that he had finally listened to the Fecal Matter demo and suggested they start a group. Their first band, the Sellouts, was a
Creedence Clearwater Revival Creedence Clearwater Revival, also referred to as Creedence and CCR, was an American rock music, rock band formed in El Cerrito, California. The band initially consisted of lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary songwriter John Fogerty; hi ...
tribute band. The project featured Novoselic on guitar and vocals, Cobain on drums, and Steve Newman on bass. After a short time, however, the project fell through. Another project, this time featuring originals, was also attempted in late 1986. Bob McFadden was enlisted to play drums, but after a month the project fell through. In early 1987, Cobain and Novoselic recruited drummer
Aaron Burckhard Aaron Burckhard (born November 14, 1963) is an American musician who was the first drummer recruited for Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic's rock group that soon came to be known as Nirvana (band), Nirvana. Burckhard performed as a part of this ...
. They practiced material from Cobain's Fecal Matter tape but started writing new material soon after forming. During its initial months, the band went through a series of names, including Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew and Ted Ed Fred. The group settled on Nirvana because, according to Cobain, "I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk name like the
Angry Samoans The Angry Samoans are an American punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted in 1960s garage rock, punk bands rejected the perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced sho ...
." Novoselic and Cobain moved to
Tacoma Tacoma ( ) is a mid-sized urban port city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government, or a county town, or the place where the central admini ...
and
Olympia, Washington Olympia is the capital city, capital of the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington and the county seat and largest city of Thurston County, Washington, Thurston County. It is southwest of the state's most populous city, Seattle, and is a c ...
respectively. They temporarily lost contact with Burckhard, and instead practiced with
Dale Crover Dale Crover (born October 23, 1967) is an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, ...
of the Melvins. Nirvana recorded its first demos in January 1988. In early 1988, Crover moved to San Francisco but recommended Dave Foster as his replacement on drums. Foster's tenure with Nirvana lasted only a few months; during a stint in jail, he was replaced by Burckhard, who again departed after telling Cobain he was too hungover to practice one day. Cobain and Novoselic put an ad seeking a replacement drummer in '' The Rocket'', a Seattle music publication, but received no satisfactory responses. Meanwhile, a mutual friend introduced them to drummer Chad Channing. Channing continued to jam with Cobain and Novoselic; however, by Channing's account, "They never actually said 'okay, you're in.'" Channing played his first show with Nirvana in May 1988.


Early releases (1988–1990)

Nirvana released its first single, a cover of
Shocking Blue Shocking Blue was a Dutch rock band formed in The Hague The Hague (; nl, Den Haag or ) is a List of cities in the Netherlands by province, city and Municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality on the western coast of the Netherlands on ...
's " Love Buzz", in November 1988 on the Seattle independent record label
Sub Pop Sub Pop is a record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are used in ...

Sub Pop
. They did their first interview with John Robb in ''
Sounds In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiology and psychology, sound is the ''reception'' of such waves and their ''perception'' by the br ...
'', which made their release its single of the week. The following month, the band began recording its debut album, ''
Bleach Bleach is the generic name for any chemical product that is used industrially and domestically to remove color from a fabric or fiber or to clean or to remove stains in a process called bleaching. It often refers, specifically, to a dilute so ...
'', with local producer
Jack Endino Jack Endino (born 1964) is an American producer and musician based in Seattle, Washington. Long associated with Seattle label Sub Pop and the grunge movement, Endino worked on seminal albums from bands including Mudhoney, Soundgarden and Nirvan ...
. ''Bleach'' was influenced by the heavy dirge-rock of the Melvins, the 1980s punk rock of
Mudhoney Mudhoney is an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, che ...

Mudhoney
, and the 1970s
heavy metal Heavy metal may refer to: *Heavy metals, a loose category of relatively dense metals and metalloids **Toxic heavy metal, any heavy metal chemical element of environmental concern *Heavy metal music, a genre of rock music **Heavy metal genres *Hea ...
of
Black Sabbath Black Sabbath were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compou ...

Black Sabbath
. The money for the recording sessions for ''Bleach'', listed as $606.17 on the album sleeve, was supplied by
Jason Everman Jason Mark Everman (born October 16, 1967) is an American musician and soldier who played guitar with Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", ...
, who was subsequently brought into the band as the second guitarist. Though Everman did not play on the album, he received a credit on ''Bleach'' because, according to Novoselic, they "wanted to make him feel more at home in the band". Prior to the album's release, Nirvana became the first band to sign an extended contract with Sub Pop. ''Bleach'' was released in June 1989, and became a favorite of
college radio Campus radio (also known as college radio, university radio or student radio) is a type of radio station Radio broadcasting is transmission of audio Audio most commonly refers to sound In physics Physics (from grc, φυσ ...
stations. Nirvana embarked on its first national tour,Young, Charles; O'Donnell, Kevin
"Nirvana: Album guide"
. ''Rolling Stone''. April 11, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
but canceled the last few dates and returned to Washington state due to increasing differences with Everman. No one told Everman he was fired; Everman later said he had quit. Although Sub Pop did not promote ''Bleach'' as much as other releases, it was a steady seller,Azerrad, 1994. p. 134 and had initial sales of 40,000 copies. However, Cobain was upset by the label's lack of promotion and distribution. In late 1989, Nirvana recorded the ''
Blew "''Blew''" is a song by American rock band Nirvana (band), Nirvana, written by vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain. It is the first song on the band's debut album ''Bleach (Nirvana album), Bleach'', released in June 1989 by Sub Pop. The song wa ...
'' EP with producer
Steve Fisk Steve Fisk is an American, Washington (state), Washington-based audio engineer, record producer and musician. As a musician, he has been in bands such as the instrumental alternative/indie rock band Pell Mell (band), Pell Mell and the electronic ...
. In an interview with John Robb in ''Sounds'', Cobain said the band's music was changing: "The early songs were really angry... But as time goes on the songs are getting poppier and poppier as I get happier and happier. The songs are now about conflicts in relationships, emotional things with other human beings." In April 1990, Nirvana began working on their next album with producer
Butch Vig Bryan David "Butch" Vig (born August 2, 1955) is an American musician, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the drummer and co-producer of the alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simp ...

Butch Vig
at
Smart Studios Smart Studios was a recording studio located in Madison, Wisconsin. It was set up in 1983 by Butch Vig and Steve Marker to produce local bands. The studio produced bands such as Killdozer (band), Killdozer, The Smashing Pumpkins, L7 (band), L7, Ta ...
in
Madison, Wisconsin Madison is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercas ...
. Cobain and Novoselic became disenchanted with Channing's drumming, and Channing expressed frustration at not being involved in songwriting. As bootlegs of Nirvana demos with Vig began to circulate in the music industry and draw attention from major labels, Channing left the band. That July, Nirvana recorded the single " Sliver" with Mudhoney drummer
Dan Peters Daniel Joe Peters (born August 18, 1967) is the drummer A drummer is a percussionist who creates music using drums. Most contemporary western music ensemble, bands that play Rock music, rock, Pop music, pop, jazz, or R&B music include a ...

Dan Peters
. Dale Crover filled in on drums on Nirvana's seven-date American West Coast tour with
Sonic Youth Sonic Youth was an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound ...
that August. In September 1990,
Buzz Osborne Roger "Buzz" Osborne, also known as King Buzzo (born March 25, 1964), is an American guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. He is a founding member of the Melvins Melvins are an American rock band formed in 1983, in Montesano, Washington. The ...

Buzz Osborne
of the Melvins introduced the band to drummer
Dave Grohl David Eric Grohl (born January 14, 1969) is an American musician. He rose to fame as the drummer for the grunge Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is an alternative rock genre and subculture that emerged during the in the Ame ...

Dave Grohl
, whose Washington, D.C. band Scream had broken up. Grohl auditioned for Novoselic and Cobain days after arriving in Seattle; Novoselic later said, "We knew in two minutes that he was the right drummer." Grohl told '' Q'': "I remember being in the same room with them and thinking, 'What? ''Thats Nirvana? Are you kidding?' Because on their record cover they looked like psycho lumberjacks... I was like, 'What, that little dude and that big motherfucker? You're kidding me'."


Mainstream breakthrough (1991–1992)

Disenchanted with Sub Pop and with the Smart Studios sessions generating interest, Nirvana decided to look for a deal with a major record label since no indie label could buy the group out of its contract. Cobain and Novoselic consulted
Soundgarden Soundgarden was an American Rock music, rock band formed in Seattle, Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil (both of whom are the only members to appear in every incarnation of the ...
and
Alice in Chains Alice in Chains (often abbreviated as AIC) is an American Rock music, rock band from Seattle, Seattle, Washington, formed in 1987 by guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney, who later recruited bassist Mike Starr (musician ...

Alice in Chains
manager
Susan Silver Susan Jean Silver (born July 17, 1958) is an American music manager, best known for managing Seattle Rock bands such as Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Screaming Trees. Silver also owns the company Susan Silver Management, and co-owns the club Th ...
for advice. They met Silver in Los Angeles and she introduced them to agent Don Muller and music business attorney Alan Mintz, who was specialized in finding deals for new bands. Mintz started sending out Nirvana's demo tape to major labels looking for deals. Following repeated recommendations by Sonic Youth's
Kim Gordon Kim Althea Gordon (born April 28, 1953) is an American musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the bassist, guitarist, and vocalist of alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternat ...

Kim Gordon
, Nirvana signed to
DGC Records DGC Records (an initialism for the David Geffen Company) was an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or servic ...
in 1990. When Nirvana was inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF), sometimes simply referred to as the Rock Hall, is a museum A museum ( ; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is a building or institution that Preservation (library and archival science), cares for a ...

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
in 2014, Novoselic thanked Silver during his speech for "introducing them to the music industry properly". After signing, the band began recording its first major label album, ''
Nevermind ''Nevermind'' is the second studio album by American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, ...

Nevermind
''. The group was offered a number of producers, but held out for Vig. Rather than record at Vig's Madison studio as they had in 1990, production shifted to
Sound City Studios Sound City Studios is a recording studio in Los Angeles, California Los Angeles (; es, Los Ángeles; "The Angels"), officially the City of Los Angeles and often abbreviated as L.A., is the largest city in California California is ...
in
Van Nuys, Los Angeles Van Nuys is a neighborhood in the central San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California. Home to Van Nuys Airport and the Van Nuys City Hall, Valley Municipal Building, it is the most populous neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. His ...
, California. For two months, the band worked through a variety of songs. Some, such as "
In Bloom "In Bloom" is a song by American rock band Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism: A ...

In Bloom
" and "Breed", had been in Nirvana's repertoire for years, while others, including "
On a Plain "On a Plain" is a song by the American rock band, Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddh ...
" and "Stay Away", lacked finished lyrics until midway through the recording process. After the recording sessions were completed, Vig and the band set out to mix the album. However, the recording sessions had run behind schedule and the resulting mixes were deemed unsatisfactory.
Slayer Slayer was an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California. The band was formed in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, drummer Dave Lombardo, and bassist and vocalist Tom Araya. Slayer's fast and aggressive musical s ...
mixer Andy Wallace was brought in to create the final mix. After the album's release, members of Nirvana expressed dissatisfaction with the polished sound the mixer had given ''Nevermind''. Initially, DGC Records was hoping to sell 250,000 copies of ''Nevermind'', the same they had achieved with Sonic Youth's '' Goo''. However, the first single "
Smells Like Teen Spirit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a song by American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, it ...
" quickly gained momentum, boosted by major airplay of the music video on
MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel that launched on August 1, 1981. Based in New York City, it serves as the flagship property of the ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks division of ViacomCBS. Prio ...

MTV
. As it toured Europe during late 1991, the band found that its shows were dangerously oversold, that television crews were becoming a constant presence onstage, and that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was almost omnipresent on radio and music television. By Christmas 1991, ''Nevermind'' was selling 400,000 copies a week in the US. In January 1992, the album displaced
Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter and dancer. Dubbed the " King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. Over a four-decade car ...

Michael Jackson
's '' Dangerous'' at number one on the ''
Billboard A billboard (also called a hoarding in the UK and many other parts of the world) is a large outdoor advertising Out-of-home (OOH) advertising, also called outdoor advertising, outdoor media, and out-of-home media, is advertising experienced ...
'' album charts, and topped the charts in numerous other countries. The month ''Nevermind'' reached number one, ''Billboard'' proclaimed, "Nirvana is that rare band that has everything: critical acclaim, industry respect, pop radio appeal, and a rock-solid college/alternative base." The album eventually sold over seven million copies in the United StatesBasham, David
"Got Charts? No Doubt's Christmas Gift; Nirvana Ain't No Beatles"
. MTV.com. December 20, 2001. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
and over 30 million worldwide. Nirvana's sudden success was credited for popularizing
alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widely popular in the 1990s. "Alternative" refers to th ...
and ending the dominance of
hair metal Hair is a protein filament In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Phy ...
. Citing exhaustion, Nirvana decided not to undertake another American tour in support of ''Nevermind'', instead opting to make only a handful of performances later that year. In March 1992, Cobain sought to reorganize the group's songwriting royalties (which to this point had been split equally) to better represent that he wrote the majority of the music. Grohl and Novoselic did not object, but when Cobain wanted the agreement to be retroactive to the release of ''Nevermind'', the disagreements between the two sides came close to breaking up the band. After a week of tension, Cobain received a retroactive share of 75 percent of the royalties. Bad feelings about the situation remained within the group afterward. Amid rumors that the band was disbanding due to Cobain's health, Nirvana headlined the closing night of England's 1992
Reading Festival Reading is the process of taking in the sense or meaning of letters, symbols, etc., especially by sight or touch. For educators and researchers, reading is a multifaceted process involving such areas as word recognition, orthography (spelling) ...
. Cobain personally programmed the performance lineup. Nirvana's performance at Reading is often regarded by the press as one of the most memorable of the group's career. A few days later, Nirvana performed at the
MTV Video Music Awards The MTV Video Music Awards (commonly abbreviated as the VMAs) is an award show presented by the cable channel MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel that launched on August 1, 1981. Based in N ...
; despite the network's refusal to let the band play the new song "
Rape Me "Rape Me" is a song by the American rock band Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism ...
", Cobain strummed and sang the first few bars of the song before breaking into "
Lithium Lithium (from el, λίθος, lithos, lit=stone) is a chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: the ...
". The band received awards for the Best Alternative Video and
Best New Artist The Grammy Award The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy, the US Recording Academy to recognize "Outstanding Achievement in the music industry ...
categories. DGC had hoped to have a new Nirvana album ready for a late 1992 holiday season; instead, it released the compilation album ''
Incesticide is a compilation album by the American rock band Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Budd ...
'' in December 1992.Gaar, Gillian G. "Verse Chorus Verse: The Recording History of Nirvana". ''Goldmine''. February 14, 1997. A joint venture between DGC and Sub Pop, ''Incesticide'' collected various rare Nirvana recordings and was intended to provide the material for a better price and higher quality than bootlegs. As ''Nevermind'' had been out for 15 months and had yielded a fourth single in "In Bloom" by that point, Geffen/DGC opted not to heavily promote ''Incesticide'', which was certified gold by the
Recording Industry Association of America The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization A trade association, also known as an industry trade group, business association, sector association or industry body, is an organization founded and funded by busin ...
the following February.


''In Utero'', final months, and Cobain's death (1993–1994)

In February 1993, Nirvana released "Puss" / "Oh, the Guilt", a split single with
the Jesus Lizard The Jesus Lizard is an American Rock music, rock band formed in 1987 in Austin, Texas and based in Chicago, Illinois. They were "a leading noise rock band in the American independent underground music, underground…turned out a series of ...
, on the independent label Touch & Go. For their third album, Nirvana chose producer
Steve Albini Steve Albini (pronounced ; born July 22, 1961) is an American musician, record producer, audio engineer and music journalist. He was a member of Big Black Big Black was an American punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre tha ...

Steve Albini
, who had a reputation as principled and opinionated in the American
indie music Independent music (often referred to as indie music or indie) is music produced independently from commercial record labels or their subsidiaries, a process that may include an autonomous, DIY ethic, do-it-yourself approach to recording and publi ...
scene. While some speculated that Nirvana chose Albini for his underground credentials, Cobain said they chose him for his "natural" recording style, without layers of studio trickery. Albini and Nirvana recorded the album in two weeks in
Pachyderm Studio Pachyderm Recording Studio is a residential music recording studio located in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, United States, 35.8 mi (57.6 km) southeast of Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. It is located in a secluded old-growth fores ...
in
Cannon Falls, Minnesota Cannon Falls is a city in Goodhue County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 4,083 at the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census. Located along U.S. Route 52 in Minnesota, U.S. Route 52, southeast of the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Twin Cit ...

Cannon Falls, Minnesota
, that FebruaryGaar, 2006. p. 40 for $25,000. After its completion, stories ran in the ''
Chicago Tribune The ''Chicago Tribune'' is a daily newspaper based in Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive maps of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnote ...

Chicago Tribune
'' and ''
Newsweek ''Newsweek'' is an American weekly news magazine A news magazine is a typed, printed, and published , radio or , usually published weekly, consisting of articles about current events. News magazines generally discuss stories, in greater de ...
'' that quoted sources claiming DGC considered the album "unreleasable". Fans became concerned that Nirvana's creative vision might be compromised by their label. While the stories about DGC shelving the album were untrue, the band was unhappy with certain aspects of Albini's mixes; they thought the bass levels were too low,Fricke, David. "Kurt Cobain: The Rolling Stone Interview". ''Rolling Stone''. January 27, 1994. and Cobain felt that "
Heart-Shaped Box "Heart-Shaped Box" is a song by American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemi ...
" and "
All Apologies "All Apologies" is a song by American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical ...
" did not sound "perfect". Longtime
R.E.M. R.E.M. was an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chem ...
producer
Scott Litt Scott Warren Litt (born March 10, 1954) is an American record producer who mostly works with artists in the alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that ...
was called in to remix the two songs, with Cobain adding more instrumentation and backing vocals. ''
In Utero The uterus (from Latin "uterus", plural ''uteri'') or womb () is a major female hormone-responsive sex organ, secondary sex organ of the reproductive system in humans and most other mammals. Things occurring in the uterus are described with the ...
'' topped the American and British album charts. ''
Time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...
'' critic Christopher John Farley wrote in his review, "Despite the fears of some alternative-music fans, Nirvana hasn't gone mainstream, though this potent new album may once again force the mainstream to go Nirvana." ''In Utero'' went on to sell over 5 million copies in the United States. That October, Nirvana embarked on its first tour of the United States in two years with support from
Half Japanese Half Japanese is an American art punk band formed by brothers Jad Fair, Jad and David Fair around 1975, sometime after the family's relocation to Uniontown, Maryland. Their original instrumentation included a small drum set, which they took turn ...
and
the Breeders The Breeders are an American alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widel ...
. For the tour, the band added
Pat Smear Georg Albert Ruthenberg (born August 5, 1959), better known by the stage name Pat Smear, is an American musician. He is best known as a rhythm Rhythm (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Gr ...
of the punk rock band
Germs Germ or germs may refer to: Science * Germ (microorganism), an informal word for a pathogen * Germ cell, cell that gives rise to the gametes of an organism that reproduces sexually * Germ layer, a primary layer of cells that forms during embryon ...
as second guitarist. In November, Nirvana recorded a performance for the television program ''
MTV Unplugged ''MTV Unplugged'' is an American television series on MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel that launched on August 1, 1981. Based in New York City, it serves as the flagship property of th ...
''. Augmented by Smear and cellist Lori Goldston, they broke convention for the show by choosing not to play their best known songs. Instead, they performed several covers, and invited Cris and Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets to join them for renditions of three Meat Puppets songs.Di Perna, Alan. "Behind Unplugged". ''Guitar World''. March 1995. In early 1994, Nirvana embarked on a European tour. Their final concert took place in Munich, Germany, on March 1. In Rome, on the morning of March 4, Cobain's wife,
Courtney Love Courtney Michelle Love (née Harrison; born July 9, 1964) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. A figure in the alternative rock, alternative and grunge scenes of the 1990s, her career has spanned four decades. She rose to prominence ...

Courtney Love
, found Cobain unconscious in their hotel room and he was rushed to the hospital. Cobain had reacted to a combination of prescribed Rohypnol and alcohol. The rest of the tour was canceled. In the ensuing weeks, Cobain's heroin addiction resurfaced. Following an Intervention (counseling), intervention, Cobain was persuaded to enter drug rehabilitation. After less than a week, he left the facility and returned to Seattle. One week later, on April 8, 1994, Suicide of Kurt Cobain, Cobain was found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound at his home in the Denny-Blaine, Seattle, Denny-Blaine neighborhood of the city.


Disbandment and aftermath (1994–1997)

Plans for a live album, ''Verse Chorus Verse (Nirvana album), Verse Chorus Verse'', were canceled as Novoselic and Grohl found assembling the material so soon after Cobain's death emotionally overwhelming. Instead, in November 1994, DGC released the ''MTV Unplugged'' performance as ''
MTV Unplugged in New York ''MTV Unplugged in New York'' is a live album packaged in book form, like a photograph album A photographic album or photo album, is a series of photographic prints collected by an individual person or family in the form of a book. Some b ...
;'' it debuted at number one on the ''Billboard'' charts, and earned Nirvana a
Grammy Award The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy, the US Recording Academy to recognize "Outstanding Achievement in the music industry" of the United State ...
for Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album, Best Alternative Music Album. It was followed by Nirvana's first full-length live video, ''Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!''. In 1996, the live album ''From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah'' became the third consecutive Nirvana release to debut at the top of the ''Billboard'' album chart. In 1994, Grohl founded a new band, Foo Fighters. He and Novoselic decided against Novoselic joining; Grohl said it would have felt "really natural" for them to work together again, but would have been uncomfortable for the other band members and placed more pressure on Grohl. Novoselic turned his attention to political activism.


Conflicts with Love (1997–2006)

In 1997, Novoselic, Grohl, and Love formed the limited liability company Nirvana LLC to oversee Nirvana projects. A 45-track box set of Nirvana rarities was scheduled for release in October 2001.Heath, Chris. "The Nirvana Wars: Who Owns Kurt Cobain?". ''Rolling Stone''. June 6, 2002. However, shortly before the release date, Love filed a suit to dissolve Nirvana LLC, and an injunction was issued preventing the release of any new Nirvana material until the case was resolved. Love contended that Cobain was the band, that Grohl and Novoselic were sidemen, and that she had signed the partnership agreement originally under bad advice. Grohl and Novoselic countersued, asking the court to remove Love from the partnership and to replace her with another representative of Cobain's estate. The day before the case was set to go to trial in October 2002, Love, Novoselic, and Grohl announced that they had reached a settlement. The next month, the best-of compilation ''Nirvana (Nirvana album), Nirvana'' was released, featuring the previously unreleased track "You Know You're Right", the last song Nirvana recorded. It debuted at number three on the ''Billboard'' album chart. The box set, ''With the Lights Out'', was released in November 2004. The release contained early Cobain demos, rough rehearsal recordings, and live tracks. An album of selected tracks from the box set, ''Sliver: The Best of the Box'', was released in late 2005. In April 2006, Love announced that she was selling 25 percent of her stake in the Nirvana song catalog in a deal estimated at $50 million. The share of Nirvana's publishing was purchased by Primary Wave Music, which was founded by Larry Mestel, a former CEO of Virgin Records. Love sought to assure Nirvana's fanbase that the music would not simply be licensed to the highest bidder: "We are going to remain very tasteful and true to the spirit of Nirvana while taking the music to places it has never been before".


Further reissues and reunions (2006–present)

Further releases have included the DVD releases of ''Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!'' in 2006, and the full version of ''MTV Unplugged in New York'' in 2007. In November 2009, Nirvana's performance at the 1992 Reading Festival was released on CD and DVD as ''Live at Reading,'' alongside a deluxe 20th-anniversary edition of ''Bleach.''Breihan, Tom
"Sub Pop to Reissue Nirvana's Bleach"
. Pitchfork Media. August 14, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
DGC released a number of 20th anniversary deluxe-edition packages of ''Nevermind'' in September 2011 and ''In Utero'' in September 2013. In 2012, Grohl, Novoselic, and Smear joined Paul McCartney at 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief. The performance featured the premiere of a new song written by the four, "Cut Me Some Slack". A studio recording was released on the soundtrack to ''Sound City (film), Sound City'', a documentary film by Grohl. On July 19, 2013, the group played with McCartney again during the encore of his Safeco Field Out There! Tour, "Out There" concert in Seattle, the first time Nirvana members had performed together in their hometown in over 15 years. In 2014, Cobain, Novoselic, and Grohl were inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF), sometimes simply referred to as the Rock Hall, is a museum A museum ( ; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is a building or institution that Preservation (library and archival science), cares for a ...

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
. At the induction ceremony, Novoselic, Grohl and Smear performed a four-song set with guest vocalists Joan Jett,
Kim Gordon Kim Althea Gordon (born April 28, 1953) is an American musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the bassist, guitarist, and vocalist of alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternat ...

Kim Gordon
, St. Vincent (musician), St. Vincent and Lorde. Novoselic, Grohl and Smear then performed a full show at Brooklyn's St. Vitus Bar with Jett, Gordon, St. Vincent, J Mascis and Deer Tick (band), John McCauley as guest vocalists. Grohl thanked Burckhard, Crover, Peters and Channing for their time in Nirvana. Everman also attended. At Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy party in 2016, Novoselic and Grohl reunited to perform the David Bowie song "The Man Who Sold the World (song)#Nirvana, The Man Who Sold the World", which Nirvana had covered in their ''MTV Unplugged'' performance. Beck accompanied them on acoustic guitar and vocals. In October 2018, Novoselic and Grohl reunited during the finale of the Cal Jam festival at Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino County, California, joined by guest vocalists Deer Tick (band), John McCauley and Joan Jett. Nirvana was among hundreds of artists whose material was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. In January 2020, Novoselic and Grohl reunited for a performance at a benefit for The Art of Elysium at the Hollywood Palladium, joined by Beck, St Vincent, and Grohl's daughter Violet Grohl. In September 2021, the BBC documentary ''When Nirvana Came to Britain'' was released to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ''Nevermind,'' featuring interviews with Grohl and Novoselic. That month, a 30th-anniversary edition of ''Nevermind'' was announced, containing 70 previously unreleased songs.


Musical style

Nirvana's musical style has been mainly described as
grunge Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is an alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of that emerged from the underground of the 1970s and became wi ...
,
alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widely popular in the 1990s. "Alternative" refers to th ...
, punk rock, and hard rock. Characterized by their
punk Punk or punks may refer to: Genres, subculture, and related aspects * Punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted in 1960s garage rock, punk bands rejected the perceived excesses of mainstream 1 ...
aesthetic, Nirvana fused
pop Pop or POP may refer to: Places * Gregorio Luperón International Airport (IATA code POP), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic * Pop, a tributary of the river Jijia in eastern Romania * Poppleton railway station (station code), York, England People ...
melodies with
noise Noise is unwanted sound In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiology and psychology, sound is the ''reception'' of such waves and t ...

noise
. ''Billboard'' described their work as a "genius blend of Kurt Cobain's raspy voice and gnashing guitars, Dave Grohl's relentless drumming and Krist Novoselic's uniting bass-work that connected with fans in a hail of alternately melodic and hard-charging songs". Cobain described Nirvana's initial sound as "a Gang of Four (band), Gang of Four and Scratch Acid ripoff".Azerrad, 1994. p. 294 When Nirvana recorded ''Bleach'', Cobain felt he had to fit the expectations of the Sub Pop grunge sound to build a fanbase, and suppressed his arty and pop songwriting in favor of a more rock sound.Azerrad, 1994. p. 102 Nirvana biographer Michael Azerrad argued, "Ironically, it was the restrictions of the Sub Pop sound that helped the band find its musical identity." Azerrad stated that by acknowledging that they had grown up listening to
Black Sabbath Black Sabbath were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compou ...

Black Sabbath
and Aerosmith, they had been able to move on from their derivative early sound. Nirvana used dynamic shifts that went from quiet to loud. Cobain sought to mix heavy and pop musical sounds, saying, "I wanted to be totally Led Zeppelin in a way and then be totally extreme punk rock and then do real wimpy pop songs." When Cobain heard the Pixies (band), Pixies' 1988 album ''Surfer Rosa'' after recording ''Bleach'', he felt it had the sound he wanted to achieve but had been too intimidated to try. The Pixies' subsequent popularity encouraged Cobain to follow his instincts as a songwriter. Like the Pixies, Nirvana moved between "spare bass-and-drum grooves and shrill bursts of screaming guitar and vocals". Near the end of his life, Cobain said the band had become bored of the "limited" formula, but expressed doubt that they were skilled enough to try other dynamics. Cobain's rhythm guitar style, which relied on power chords, low-note riffs, and a loose left-handed technique, featured the key components to the band's songs. Cobain would often initially play a song's verse riff in a clean tone, then double it with distorted guitars when he repeated the part. In some songs the guitar would be absent from the verses entirely to allow the drums and bass guitar to support the vocals, or it would only play sparse melodies like the two-note pattern used in "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Cobain rarely played standard guitar solos, opting to play variations of the song's melody as single note lines. Cobain's solos were mostly blues-based and discordant, which music writer Jon Chappell described as "almost an iconoclastic parody of the traditional instrumental break", a quality typified by the note-for-note replication of the lead melody in "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and the atonal solo for "Breed".Chappell, Jon. "Nirvana's music". ''Guitar''. June 1993. The band had no formal musical training; Cobain said: "I have no concept of knowing how to be a musician at all what-so-ever... I couldn't even pass Guitar 101". Grohl's drumming "took Nirvana's sound to a new level of intensity". Azerrad stated that Grohl's "powerful drumming propelled the band to a whole new plane, visually as well as musically", noting, "Although Dave is a merciless basher, his parts are also distinctly musical—it wouldn't be difficult to figure out what song he was playing even without the rest of the music". Up until early 1992, the band had performed live in concert pitch. They then began tuning down either a half step or full step as well as concert pitch. Sometimes all three tunings would be in the same show. By the summer of that year, the band had settled on the half step down tuning (Guitar tunings#E♭ tuning, E♭).Cross, Charles R. "Requiem for a Dream". ''Guitar World''. October 2001. Cobain noted, "We play so hard we can't tune our guitars fast enough".Gilbert, Jeff. "Cheap Tricks". ''Guitar World''. February 1992. The band made a habit of destroying its equipment after shows. Novoselic said he and Cobain created the "shtick" in order to get off of the stage sooner.''Classic Albums—Nirvana: Nevermind'' [DVD]. Isis Productions, 2004. Cobain stated it began as an expression of his frustration with previous drummer Channing making mistakes and dropping out entirely during performances.


Songwriting and lyrics

Everett True said in 1989, "Nirvana songs treat the banal and pedestrian with a unique slant". Cobain came up with the basic components of each song, usually writing them on an acoustic guitar, as well as the singing style and the lyrics. He emphasized that Novoselic and Grohl had a large part in deciding the lengths and parts of songs, and that he did not like to be considered the sole songwriter.di Perna, Alan. "The Making of ''Nevermind''". ''Guitar World''. Fall 1996. Cobain usually wrote lyrics for songs minutes before recording them. Cobain said, "When I write a song the lyrics are the least important subject. I can go through two or three different subjects in a song and the title can mean absolutely nothing at all". Cobain told ''Spin (magazine), Spin'' in 1993 that he "didn't give a flying fuck" what the lyrics on ''Bleach'' were about, figuring "Let's just scream some negative lyrics and as long as they're not sexist and don't get too embarrassing it'll be okay", while the lyrics to ''Nevermind'' were taken from two years of poetry he had accumulated, which he cut up and chose lines he preferred from. In comparison, Cobain stated that the lyrics to ''In Utero'' were "more focused, they're almost built on themes".Steinke, Darcey. "Smashing Their Heads on That Punk Rock". ''Spin''. October 1993. Cobain did not write in a linear fashion, instead relying on juxtapositions of contradictory images to convey emotions and ideas. Often in his lyrics, Cobain would present an idea then reject it; he said, "I'm such a nihilistic jerk half the time and other times I'm so vulnerable and sincere [.. The songs are] like a mixture of both of them. That's how most people my age are."


Legacy

Combined with their themes of
abjection The term abjection literally means "the state of being cast off". The term has been explored in post-structuralism as that which inherently disturbs conventional identity and cultural concepts. Among the most popular interpretations of abjection ...
and alienation, Nirvana became hugely popular during their short tenure and are credited with bringing alternative rock to the mainstream.Olsen, Eric
"10 years later, Cobain lives on in his music"
MSNBC.com. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that prior to Nirvana, "alternative music was consigned to specialty sections of record stores, and major labels considered it to be, at the very most, a tax write-off". Following the release of ''Nevermind'', "nothing was ever quite the same, for better and for worse".Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Erlewine, Stephen Thomas
"Nirvana Artist Biography"
. AllMusic. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
While other alternative bands had achieved hits, Nirvana "broke down the doors forever", according to Erlewine; the breakthrough "didn't eliminate the underground", but rather "just gave it more exposure".Erlewine, Stephen Thomas
American Alternative Rock/Post-Punk
Allmusic.com. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
Erlewine also wrote that Nirvana "popularized so-called '
Generation X Generation X (or Gen X for short) is the demographic Cohort (statistics), cohort following the baby boomers and preceding the millennials. Researchers and popular media use the mid-to-late 1960s as starting birth years and the late 1970s to ear ...

Generation X
' and 'slacker' culture". Following Cobain's death, numerous headlines referred to Nirvana's frontman as "the voice of a generation", although he had rejected such labeling during his lifetime. In 1992, Jon Pareles of ''The New York Times'' reported that Nirvana had made other alternative acts impatient for similar success: "Suddenly, all bets are off. No one has the inside track on which of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of ornery, obstreperous, unkempt bands might next appeal to the mall-walking millions." Record company executives offered large advances and record deals to bands, and previous strategies of building audiences for alternative rock groups were replaced by the opportunity to achieve mainstream popularity quickly. Michael Azerrad argued in his Nirvana biography ''Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana'' (1993) that ''Nevermind'' marked an epochal generational shift in music similar to the Rock and roll, rock-and-roll explosion in the 1950s and the end of the Baby boomers, baby boomer generation's dominance of the musical landscape. Azerrad wrote, "''Nevermind'' came along at exactly the right time. This was music by, for, and about a whole new group of young people who had been overlooked, ignored, or condescended to." Fugazi frontman Guy Picciotto said: "It was like our record could have been a hobo pissing in the forest for the amount of impact it had ... It felt like we were playing ukuleles all of a sudden because of the disparity of the impact of what they did." Nirvana is one of the best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 75 million records."Nirvana catalogue to be released on vinyl"
. CBC.ca. March 21, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
With more than 28 million Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA-certified units, Nirvana is also List of best-selling music artists in the United States, one of the best-selling music artists in the United States. They have achieved ten top 40 hits on the ''
Billboard A billboard (also called a hoarding in the UK and many other parts of the world) is a large outdoor advertising Out-of-home (OOH) advertising, also called outdoor advertising, outdoor media, and out-of-home media, is advertising experienced ...
''
Alternative Songs Alternative Airplay (formerly known as Alternative Songs and Modern Rock Tracks) is a music chart A record chart, in the music industry, also called a music chart, is a ranking of Sound recording and reproduction, recorded music according ...
chart, including five number-ones. Two of their studio albums and two of their live albums have reached the top spot on the ''Billboard'' 200. Nirvana has been awarded one diamond, three multiplatinum, seven platinum and two gold-Music recording sales certification, certified albums in the United States by the RIAA, and four multiplatinum, four platinum, two gold and one silver-certified albums in the UK by the British Phonographic Industry, BPI. ''Nevermind'', their most successful album, has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the List of best-selling albums, best-selling albums ever. Their most successful song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", is among List of best-selling singles, the best-selling singles of all time, having sold 8 million copies.


Awards and accolades

Since their breakup, Nirvana has continued to receive acclaim. In 2003, they were selected as one of the inductees of the The Mojo Collection, ''Mojo'' Hall of Fame 100. The band also received a nomination in 2004 from the UK Music Hall of Fame for the title of "Greatest Artist of the 1990s". ''Rolling Stone'' placed Nirvana at number 27 on their list of the "Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, 100 Greatest Artists of All Time" in 2004,"Rolling Stone: The Immortals: 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time"
. Rock On The Net. 2004. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
and at number 30 on their updated list in 2011.Iggy Pop, Pop, Iggy
"100 Greatest Artists: Nirvana"
. ''Rolling Stone''. 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
In 2003, the magazine's senior editor David Fricke picked Kurt Cobain as the 12th best guitarist of all time. ''Rolling Stone'' later ranked Cobain as the 45th greatest singer in 2008 and 73rd greatest guitarist of all time in 2011. VH1 ranked Nirvana as the 42nd greatest artists of rock and roll in 1998, the 7th greatest hard rock artists in 2000, and the 14th greatest artists of all time in 2010. Nirvana's contributions to music have also received recognition. The
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF), sometimes simply referred to as the Rock Hall, is a museum A museum ( ; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is a building or institution that Preservation (library and archival science), cares for a ...

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
has inducted two of Nirvana's recordings, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "All Apologies", into its list of "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". The museum also ranked ''Nevermind'' number 10 on its "The Definitive 200 Albums of All Time" list in 2007. In 2005, the Library of Congress added ''Nevermind'' to the National Recording Registry, which collects "culturally, historically or aesthetically important" sound recordings from the 20th century. In 2011, four of Nirvana's songs appeared on ''Rolling Stone''s updated list of "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" ranking the highest at number 9. Three of the band's albums were ranked on the magazine's 2012 list of "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", with ''Nevermind'' placing the highest at number 17. The same three Nirvana albums were also placed on ''Rolling Stones 2011 list of "The 100 Best Albums of the Nineties", with ''Nevermind'' ranking the highest at number 1, making it the greatest album of the decade. ''Time'' included ''Nevermind'' on its list of "The All-TIME 100 Albums" in 2006, labeling it "the finest album of the 1990s". In 2011, the magazine also added "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on its list of "The All-TIME 100 Songs", and "Heart-Shaped Box" on its list of "The 30 All-TIME Best Music Videos". Pitchfork Media ranked ''Nevermind'' and ''In Utero'' as the sixth and thirteenth greatest albums of the 1990s, describing the band as "''the'' greatest and most legendary band of the 1990s." Nirvana was announced in their first year of eligibility as being part of the 2014 class of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on December 17, 2013. The induction ceremony was held April 10, 2014, in Brooklyn, New York, at the Barclays Center. As the accolade was only applied to Cobain, Novoselic and Grohl, former drummer Chad Channing was not included in the induction, and was informed of his omission by Short Message Service, SMS.


Band members

Final line-up *
Kurt Cobain Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) was an American singer, songwriter, artist and musician. He was the frontman of the rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring so ...
 – lead guitar, lead vocals (1987–1994; his death) *
Krist Novoselic Krist Anthony Novoselic (; ; born May 16, 1965) is an American musician and activist best known as the bassist and a founding member of the rock band Nirvana. After Nirvana disbanded following the death (1906) Death is the permanent, ...

Krist Novoselic
 – bass (1987–1994), occasional lead vocals, (1987-1988) backing vocals (1992) *
Dave Grohl David Eric Grohl (born January 14, 1969) is an American musician. He rose to fame as the drummer for the grunge Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is an alternative rock genre and subculture that emerged during the in the Ame ...

Dave Grohl
 – drums, backing vocals (1990–1994) Touring musicians *
Pat Smear Georg Albert Ruthenberg (born August 5, 1959), better known by the stage name Pat Smear, is an American musician. He is best known as a rhythm Rhythm (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Gr ...
 – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1993–1994) * Big John Duncan, John Duncan – rhythm guitar (1992–1993) * Lori Goldston – cello (1993–1994) * Melora Creager – cello (1994) Former members *
Aaron Burckhard Aaron Burckhard (born November 14, 1963) is an American musician who was the first drummer recruited for Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic's rock group that soon came to be known as Nirvana (band), Nirvana. Burckhard performed as a part of this ...
 – drums (1987) *
Dale Crover Dale Crover (born October 23, 1967) is an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, ...
 – drums (1988, 1990), backing vocals (1988) * Dave Foster – drums (1988) * Chad Channing – drums (1988–1990) *
Dan Peters Daniel Joe Peters (born August 18, 1967) is the drummer A drummer is a percussionist who creates music using drums. Most contemporary western music ensemble, bands that play Rock music, rock, Pop music, pop, jazz, or R&B music include a ...

Dan Peters
 – drums (1990) *
Jason Everman Jason Mark Everman (born October 16, 1967) is an American musician and soldier who played guitar with Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", ...
 – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1989) Session musicians * Mark Pickerel – drums (1989) * Kirk Canning – cello (1991) * Kera Schaley – cello (1993)


Timeline


Discography

* ''
Bleach Bleach is the generic name for any chemical product that is used industrially and domestically to remove color from a fabric or fiber or to clean or to remove stains in a process called bleaching. It often refers, specifically, to a dilute so ...
'' (1989) * ''
Nevermind ''Nevermind'' is the second studio album by American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, ...

Nevermind
'' (1991) * ''
In Utero The uterus (from Latin "uterus", plural ''uteri'') or womb () is a major female hormone-responsive sex organ, secondary sex organ of the reproductive system in humans and most other mammals. Things occurring in the uterus are described with the ...
'' (1993)


See also

* List of alternative rock artists * List of musicians from Seattle * List of Nirvana concerts


Notes


References

* Azerrad, Michael. ''Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana''. Doubleday, 1994. * Cross, Charles R. ''Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain''. Hyperion, 2001. * DeRogatis, Jim. ''Milk It!: Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the 90's''. Da Capo, 2003. * Gaar, Gillian G. ''In Utero''. Continuum, 2006. * Rocco, John (editor). ''The Nirvana Companion: Two Decades of Commentary''. Schirmer, 1998.


External links

* * *
Live Nirvana
nbsp;– Guides to Nirvana studio sessions output and Nirvana live concerts
Nirvana Live Guide
nbsp;– Guide to Nirvana's live performances and recordings * {{Authority control Nirvana (band) Alternative rock groups from Washington (state) American grunge groups 1987 establishments in Washington (state) 1994 disestablishments in Washington (state) Musical groups established in 1987 Musical groups disestablished in 1994 Sub Pop artists DGC Records artists Grammy Award winners Brit Award winners