Nirvana was an American rock
band formed in Aberdeen, Washington
in 1987. Founded by lead singer-songwriter and guitarist Kurt Cobain
and bassist Krist Novoselic
, the band went through a succession of drummers before recruiting Dave Grohl
in 1990. Nirvana's success popularized alternative rock
, and they were often referenced as the figurehead band of Generation X
. Their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern rock and roll
In the late 1980s, Nirvana established itself as part of the Seattle grunge
scene, releasing its first album, ''Bleach
'', for the independent record label 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
in 1991, Nirvana found unexpected mainstream success with "Smells Like Teen Spirit
", the first single from their landmark second album ''Nevermind
'' (1991). A cultural phenomenon of the 1990s, ''Nevermind'' was certified Diamond
by the RIAA
and is credited for ending the dominance of hair metal
Characterized by their punk
aesthetic, Nirvana's fusion of pop
melodies with noise
, combined with their themes of abjection
and social alienation
, brought them global popularity. Following extensive tours and the 1992 compilation album ''Incesticide
'' and EP ''Hormoaning
'', the band released their abrasive and less mainstream sounding third studio album, ''In Utero
'' (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
. The posthumous live album ''MTV Unplugged in New York
'' (1994) won Best Alternative Music Performance
at the 1996 Grammy Awards
By 2009, Nirvana record sales were over 75 million worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time
. During their three years as a mainstream act, Nirvana received an American Music Award
, Brit Award
and Grammy Award
, as well as seven MTV Video Music Award
s and two NME Awards
. They achieved five number-one hits on the ''Billboard
'' Alternative Songs
chart and four number-one albums on the ''Billboard'' 200
. In 2004, ''Rolling Stone
'' named Nirvana among the 100 greatest artists of all time
. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
in their first year of eligibility in 2014.
Formation and early years (1987–1988)
Singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain
and bassist Krist Novoselic
met while attending Aberdeen High School
in Washington state. The pair became friends while frequenting the practice space of the Melvins
. 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
. 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
tribute band. They recruited Bob McFadden on drums, but after a month the project fell apart. In early 1987, Cobain and Novoselic recruited drummer Aaron Burckhard
. 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
". Novoselic and Cobain moved to Tacoma
and Olympia, Washington
respectively. They temporarily lost contact with Burckhard, and instead practiced with Dale Crover
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
, and the three musicians agreed to jam together. Channing continued to jam with Cobain and Novoselic; however, by Channing's own 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
's "Love Buzz
", in November 1988 on the Seattle independent record label Sub Pop
. They did their first ever interview with John Robb
'', which made their release its single of the week. The following month, the band began recording its debut album, ''Bleach
'', with local producer Jack Endino
. ''Bleach'' was influenced by the heavy dirge-rock of the Melvins and the 1980s punk rock of Mudhoney
, as well as the 1970s heavy metal
of Black Sabbath
. The money for the recording sessions for ''Bleach'', listed as $606.17 on the album sleeve, was supplied by Jason Everman
, 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
stations. After the album's release 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 actually 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 for the album.
In late 1989, the band recorded the ''Blew
'' EP with producer Steve Fisk
. In an interview around that time with John Robb in ''Sounds'', Cobain commented that the band's music was changing, saying "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
at Smart Studios
in Madison, Wisconsin
. 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
. Dale Crover filled in on drums on Nirvana's seven-date American West Coast tour with Sonic Youth
In September 1990, Buzz Osborne
of the Melvins introduced the band to drummer 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
and Alice in Chains
manager Susan Silver
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
, Nirvana signed to DGC Records
in 1990. When Nirvana was inducted into the 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
''. 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
in Van Nuys, Los Angeles
, California. For two months, the band worked through a variety of songs. Some, such as "In Bloom
" and "Breed", had been in Nirvana's repertoire for years, while others, including "On a Plain
" 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
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
" quickly gained momentum, boosted by major airplay of the music video on 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
'' at number one on the ''Billboard
'' 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 States
"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
and ending the dominance of hair metal
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
. 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
; despite the network's refusal to let the band play the new song "Rape Me
", Cobain strummed and sang the first few bars of the song before breaking into "Lithium
". The band received awards for the Best Alternative Video
and Best New Artist
DGC had hoped to have a new Nirvana album ready for a late 1992 holiday season; instead, it released the compilation album ''Incesticide
'' 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 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
, on the independent label Touch & Go
Meanwhile, the group chose Steve Albini
, who had a reputation as a principled and opinionated individual in the American indie music
scene, to record its third album. While there was speculation that the band chose Albini to record the album due to his underground credentials, Cobain insisted that Albini's sound was simply the one he had always wanted Nirvana to have: a "natural" recording without layers of studio trickery. Nirvana traveled to Pachyderm Studio
in Cannon Falls, Minnesota
, in that February to record the album.
[Gaar, 2006. p. 40]
The sessions with Albini were productive and quick, and the album was recorded and mixed in two weeks for $25,000.
Several weeks after the completion of the recording sessions, stories ran in the ''Chicago Tribune
'' and ''Newsweek
'' that quoted sources claiming DGC considered the album "unreleasable". As a result, fans began to believe that the band's creative vision might be compromised by their label. While the stories about DGC shelving the album were untrue, the band actually 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
" and "All Apologies
" did not sound "perfect". Longtime R.E.M.
producer Scott Litt
was called in to remix these two songs, with Cobain adding additional instrumentation and backing vocals.
'' topped both the American and British album charts.
''s Christopher John Farley
wrote in his review of the album, "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
and the Breeders
. For the tour, the band added Pat Smear
of the punk rock band Germs
as a second guitarist.
In November, Nirvana recorded a performance for the television program ''MTV Unplugged
''. Augmented by Smear and cellist Lori Goldston
, the band broke convention for the show by choosing not to play their most recognizable 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. Nirvana's final concert took place in Munich
, Germany, on March 1. In Rome, on the morning of March 4, Cobain's wife, 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
, Cobain was convinced to admit himself into drug rehabilitation
. After less than a week, he left the rehabilitation facility and returned to Seattle. One week later, on April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound at his home in the Denny-Blaine
neighborhood of the city.
Aftermath and posthumous releases (1994–present)
Plans for a live 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
;'' it debuted at number one on the ''Billboard'' charts, and earned Nirvana a Grammy Award
for 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.
In 1997, Novoselic, Grohl, and Love formed the limited liability company
Nirvana LLC to oversee all 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
'' 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 finally released in November 2004. The release contained early Cobain demos, rough rehearsal recordings, and live tracks recorded throughout the band's history. 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 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.''
"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
'', a film by Grohl.
On July 19, 2013, they played with McCartney again during the encore of his Safeco Field "Out There"
concert in Seattle, the first time Nirvana members had played together in their hometown in over 15 years.
In 2014, Cobain, Novoselic, and Grohl were inducted into the 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
, 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 John McCauley
as guest vocalists. At the ceremony, Grohl thanked Burckhard, Crover, Peters and Channing for their time in Nirvana. Everman also attended.
At Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy party in 2016, the surviving members of Nirvana reunited to perform the David Bowie
song "The Man Who Sold the World
", which Nirvana covered in their ''MTV Unplugged'' performance. Beck
accompanied them on acoustic guitar and lead 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 John McCauley
and Joan Jett. On June 25, 2019, ''The New York Times Magazine
'' listed Nirvana 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.
Cobain described Nirvana's initial sound as "a Gang of Four
and Scratch Acid
[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
, 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
' 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 chord
s, 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".
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 (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'' VD 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
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 "have a big part in deciding on how long a song should be and how many parts it should have. So I don't like to be considered the sole songwriter".
[di Perna, Alan. "The Making of ''Nevermind''". ''Guitar World''. Fall 1996.]
When asked which part of the songs he would write first, Cobain responded, "I don’t know. I really don't know. I guess I start with the verse and then go into the chorus".
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
'' 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 didn't write necessarily 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; the songwriter explained, "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".
Characterized by their punk
aesthetic, Nirvana often fused pop
melodies with noise
Combined with their themes of abjection
and alienation, the band became hugely popular during their short tenure. 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".
[Erlewine, Stephen Thomas]
"Nirvana Artist Biography"
AllMusic. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
The success of ''Nevermind'' not only popularized grunge, but also established "the cultural and commercial viability of alternative rock in general".
"10 years later, Cobain lives on in his music"
MSNBC.com. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
While other alternative bands had hits before, Nirvana "broke down the doors forever", according to Erlewine. Erlewine further stated that Nirvana's 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 stated that Nirvana's breakthrough "popularized so-called 'Generation X
' and 'slacker' culture".
Immediately 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's breakthrough had made others in the alternative scene impatient for achieving similar success, noting, "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 had been replaced by the opportunity to achieve mainstream popularity quickly.
Nirvana didn't invent alternative rock, but they were one of the bands foremost in bringing it to the masses. The Seattle trio had an unmistakeable sound - 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 that would become signature classics. – ''Billboard'' magazineMichael 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 explosion in the 1950s and the end of the 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." Regarding the success of ''Nevermind'', 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 over 75 million records worldwide.
["Nirvana catalogue to be released on vinyl"](_blank)
CBC.ca. March 21, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
With over 25 million RIAA
-certified units, the band is also the 80th-best-selling music artist in the United States
["Top Selling Artists"](_blank)
Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
The band have achieved ten top 40
hits on the ''Billboard
'' Alternative Songs
chart, including five No. 1's.
Two of the band's studio albums and two of their live albums have reached the top spot on the ''Billboard'' 200
. Nirvana has been awarded one Diamond, three Multi-Platinum, seven Platinum and two Gold certified albums
in the United States by the RIAA, and four Multi-Platinum, four Platinum, two Gold and one Silver certified albums in the UK by the BPI
. ''Nevermind'', the band's most successful album, has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums
ever. Their most successful song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", is among 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 ''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 "100 Greatest Artists of All Time
" in 2004,
["Rolling Stone: The Immortals: 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time"](_blank)
Rock On The Net. 2004. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
and at number 30 on their updated list in 2011.
"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
has inducted two of Nirvana's recordings, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "All Apologies", into its list of "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 "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 "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 SMS
* Kurt Cobain
– lead vocals, lead guitar (1987–1994; his death)
* Krist Novoselic
– bass (1987–1994)
* Dave Grohl
– drums, backing vocals (1990–1994)
* Pat Smear
– rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1993–1994)
* John Duncan
– rhythm guitar (1992–1993)
* Lori Goldston
– cello (1993–1994)
* Melora Creager
– cello (1994)
* Aaron Burckhard
– drums (1987–1988, 1988)
* Dale Crover
– drums (1988, 1990)
* Dave Foster – drums (1988)
* Chad Channing
– drums (1988–1990)
* Dan Peters
– drums (1990)
* Jason Everman
– rhythm guitar (1989)
* Mark Pickerel
– drums (1989)
* Kirk Canning – cello (1991)
* Kera Schaley – cello (1993)
* ''In Utero
* List of alternative rock artists
* List of musicians from Seattle
* List of Nirvana concerts
* 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.
nbsp;– Guides to Nirvana studio sessions output and Nirvana live concerts
Nirvana Live Guide
nbsp;– Guide to Nirvana's live performances and recordings
Category:Alternative rock groups from Washington (state)
Category:Grunge musical groups
Category:1987 establishments in Washington (state)
Category:1994 disestablishments in Washington (state)
Category:Musical groups established in 1987
Category:Musical groups disestablished in 1994
Category:Sub Pop artists
Category:DGC Records artists
Category:Grammy Award winners
Category:Brit Award winners