Nirvana (1987 - 1994): Best Grunge Rock Band of the 90s.

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It has been a while since I talked about the nostalgia of the '90s retro music bands. Since music was all we enjoyed back in the day, I couldn't help it today but talk about one of my favorite rock and grunge bands of the Mid-90s – Nirvana.

Do you remember the hit song “Smells Like Teen Spirit? This song would turn me into a psycho. The nostalgia of listening to the song in 2021 is so strong that I find myself still smashing doors and windows (in my mind) J This song was dope. It sparked my romanticism with alternative rock, which has remained my genre of choice since the '90s. I couldn't help it but put the song on replay on YouTube for hours on end. It never gets old! Nirvana songs are timeless – they last forever.

If you happened to have enjoyed your teen in the early to mid-90s, then you can relate to the Nirvana band story. But if not, I will try to fill you in what you missed. Back in the days, the radio was filled with rock. No day would pass without listening to a Nirvana track.

Understanding the Background of Nirvana Music Band

The success of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” pushed Nirvana to release their next single “Come As You Are” from the 1991’s Nevermind Album. At the time, we all thought that the single would even be more popular than their breakthrough track "Smell Like Teen Spirit", but that wasn't the case.

But before we go further, let us first look at who Nirvana Band is and why they were the most popular grunge band in America in the ‘90s.

History of the Nirvana Rock Music Band.
The band “Nirvana” was formed in 1987 in Aberdeen, Washington. The band was founded by the late Kurt Cobain (RIP) and Krist Novoselic. The band experienced changes of drummers before 1990 when they recruited Dave Grohl.

Nirvana was among the first few music bands in the century to promote the modern rock and roll culture. The genre has become popular to date with more artists venturing into grunge.

Nirvana became part of of the Seattle grunge scene in the late 80s and released its first Bleach album for the independent record liable Sub Pop in 1989. They came up with the style that utilized dynamic contrast between quiet verses and loud verses in their music.

In 1991 Nirvana signed to a major record label called DGC in 1991. Nirvana experienced unexpected mainstream success with their single “Smell Like Teen Spirit, from their landmark second album Nevermind in 1991.

During the '90s, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album, which marked the end of the dominance of hair metal. Their punk aesthetics, combined with the themes of their social alienation and abjection, made them rise in fame by combining pop melodies with noise.
After many tours and the 1992 incensticide and EP Hormoaning compilation, the band released their aggressive and influential 3rd studio album In Utero in 1993. The album surpassed the charts on both the United States and the UK album, and critics praised it.

After the unfortunate death of Cobain in April 1994, Nirvana band was disbanded. Novoselic, Grohl and Cobain’s wife Courtney Love released several posthumous albums. One of the posts humous albums won the Grammy awards in 1996 for Best Alternative Music Performance (MTV Unplugged).

Nirvana’s record sales by 2009 amounted to more than 75 million worldwide and became one of the best-selling bands ever. Nirvana has won an American Music Award, a Brit Award and a Grammy Award, and over seven MTV Video Music Awards and two NME Awards in the course of their active years since their inception in 1987. Nirvana Band achieved five hits in the Billboard Alternative Song Chart. In the Billboard 200, they had four number-one.

Nirvana was named one of the 100 best artists of the time in 2004 by Rolling Stone. In their first year of eligibility in 2014, they were introduced to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

All you need to know about the early years of Nirvana. (1987 – 1988)
The late singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bass player Krist Novoselic met during their time at Aberdeen High School in Washington. While visiting the Melvins, they became friends. Cobain wanted to create a band, but Novoselic was hesitant. Cobain demoed his project, Fecal Matter. Three years later, Novoselic listened to the demo and suggested that they form a band.
Their first band, the Sellouts, was tribute band from Creedence Clearwater Revival which led to Bob McFadden's recruitment on drums. Unfortunately, the group collapsed after one month. Novoselic and Cobain recruited Aaron Burckhard as a drummer at the beginning of 1987.

In the early months of its existence, Fecal Matter, Skid Row, and Ted Ed Fred were some of the band's names. According to Cobain, the group later agreed on Nirvana which they considered as a pretty nice name. The group lost touch with Burckhard briefly and instead performed with Melvin’s Dale Crover.

In January 1988, Nirvana released their first demos. Crover moved to San Fransisco in early 1988 and advised that Dave Foster should be replaced in drums. The tenure of Foster with Nirvana lasted just a few months and, during an incarceration period, he was replaced by Burckhard, who had left once again after he said that Cobain is too weak (read hang overed) to perform.

Later on, their friend introduced Chad Channing to the drummer and the three musicians decided to jam together. In May 1988, Channing did his first performance with Nirvana despite not being officially accepted into the band.

Nirvana Releases Their first single (1988 – 1990)

On November 1988, in the Independent Seattle Label Sub Pop, Nirvana released its first single, a cover from Shocking Blue's Love Buzz. This granted them an interview with John Robb in Sounds, for the first time, and released a single within the same week.

Works on their debut album, Bleach began with the help of a local producer called Jack Endino. The Bleach was inspired by the heavy dirge rock of the Melvins and Mudhoney’s punk rock of the 80s and the heavy metal of Black Sabbath of the 70s.

The funds for the album sleeve recording sessions was provided by Jason Everman, who later was recruited into the band as the second guitarist. Although Everman did not perform on the record, he earned a credit on Bleach because he said he needed to make him feel at home in the band.

Nirvana was the first band to sign an extended deal with Sub Pop just before releasing the album.

Nirvana Tour: Insane Australian University Bar Live Show

The 90s was the year of Nirvana. Do you remember their breakthrough Album “Nevermind"? I remember it like it was yesterday. On the 24th of September, 1991, Seattle’s Nirvana released their breakthrough album called Nevermind. The record flew up the charts hitting number one in the United States, Canada, Finland, Norway, and Australia.
This success came as a surprise to the band. They held a crazy gig at the Australian National University's bar in Canberra on the 5th of February, 1992. It was nuts…it was nuts…as Krist Novoselic would put it. Fans without tickets gathered outside the venue hoping to hear, “Smell like Teen Spirit’, Nirvana’s seminal song that became the soundtrack to the generation.

Canberra was full to the brim on that day with other 4500+ Nirvana fans. The crowd was pumping, and there were so many people around that it was a pretty fantastic night. You would not miss the crazy ones who tried to get in through the roof. Guys tried kicking the doors to get inside the bar.

After hours of hitting the door, they managed to rip the side door open and entered the venue. Windows were broken, and some people actually smashed their way through the ceiling to try to get in. Later on, the ceiling came in. Glasses were flying everywhere, but thankfully, now one was hurt. It was a fantastic show.

Nirvana’s Sad Years (1993 - 1994): Kurt Cobain’s Untimely Death.

Kurt Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle, Washington, at the age of 27 on the 8th of April, 1994. He was at the time the lead singer and guitarist of the grunge group Nirvana. Investigations found out that he had died three days earlier. He was found with a shotgun on his body and a head wound with a suicide note.
Conspiracy theories of Cobain's death have since been circulating claiming that he was murdered. The incident was reported as the Seattle Police Department.

Cobain was among the most influential acts of the ‘90s. He was the lead singer and guitarist of the Nirvana rock group. Cobain had bronchitis all his life and severe pain in his stomach. He was also an alcoholic, often depressed, and used drugs. His family has a history of suicide cases; two of his uncles are said to have committed suicide by shooting themselves.

On the 3rd of March, 1994, after an overdose of painkillers, Cobain was hospitalized in Rome. Initially, it was reported that the overdose was unintentional, but this was later clarified. Further investigation indicated that his overdose was a suicide attempt (intentional).

Cobain said that during the 1991 European tour of Nirvana, he suffered from such extreme stomach pain that he contemplated suicide. Cobain had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder coupled with bipolar disorder.

On the 31st of March, 1994, Cobain escaped Exodus Recovery Center by jumping over the 6-foot brick wall. Two days later, Cobain was dropped at Seattle gun shop by a taxi. He bought firearm shells from the shop. Cobain told the taxi driver that he only bought the shells because his house had been burglarized.

On the morning of the 8th of April, 1994, a VECA Electric employee called Gary Smith had come to fix security lighting discovered his body in a greenhouse near the garage. Smith thought he was sleeping before he saw blood oozing from Cobian’s ear.

He also found a suicide note inside a flower pot wit ha pen. On his chest, there was a 20-gauge shotgun (Remington Model). It was confirmed that the gun was bought legally from Stan Baker's Gun Shop in Seattle.

The band later made the song "Tearjerker" in honour of Kurt Cobain, a musical hero. Despite the reports form investigation, some family members still suspect foul play and that Cobain was murdered.

Why “Smells Like Teen Spirit” went viral back in the ‘90s.

The hit song 'Smells Like Teen Spit' took the music industry by storm at the time. I was only a teenager at the time. I was not so much invested in grunge or alternative rock. Almost 30 years down the line, but the Nirvana songs are still being played on the radio.
‘Smell Like Teen Spirit’ was their biggest hit song worldwide and in Charts from Belgium, Spain, France, and New Zealand (1991 – 1992). The song received praise and extensive criticism in equal measures. It was regarded as a GenX anthem for the apathetic kids.

The band became uneasy with the attention that the song brought. After the death of Cobain, fans and reviewers kept praising “Smells Like Teen Spirit” saying that It remains on their biggest songs ever.

The song’s music video is based on Jonathan Kaplan’s 1979 film “Over the Edge” and the Ramones’ movie called “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”. The song got two MTV Video Music Awards.

In the following years, Amy Finnerty, formerly a programming company from MTV, said that the song changed the entire look of MTV by offering the channel a whole new generation to sell to. It was the most played video on MTV Europe and even entered the Guinness World Record in 2000.

Final Thoughts

Nirvana songs are some of the few songs that have stood the taste of time. Cobain and team had the ability to write songs that would survive all the generations and remain relevant 30 plus years later.

The career of the three Seattle artists was short but astronomical, but the events of o 1994 like the death of Kurt Cobain slowed down the band.

Nevertheless, the band will remain as one of the most influential bands of our time. They entertained us and gave us the best of their talents back in the 90s.

Did you listen to Nirvana songs back in the days? Which song was your favourite?


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Omega Geeze
Jul 13, 2019
God I miss these guys. Their music was so uniquely 90s I wonder what they'd have sounded like today.
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