Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is Nirvana's Best Hits album

Throughout the history of rock and roll, there have been specific geographic regions that are associated with a particular sound. In the 1950's there was Sun Studio in Memphis, followed by Detroit's soul inspired Motown sound in the early 1960's. In the late 1960's, San Francisco was the epicenter of psychedelic rock, while New York and London are credited with the markedly raw and innovative punk rock movement in the late 1970's.

But in the early 1990's it was Seattle, Washington where grunge hurled an incendiary reinvention of rock and roll whose impact transformed music and popular culture. Fusing punk rock and metal; grunge was the term invented by critics to describe the look and sound.

Although Soundgarden might have been the first grunge band to release a record on the fledgling independent Seattle Sub Pop label, it was Nirvana who seized the attention of an entire generation and the music industry with their legendary sophomore release "Nevermind" in September of 1991.

Nirvana's story begins in the rural logging town of Aberdeen, Washington where vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain (1967 - 1994) had grown up. After a tumultuous childhood he dropped out of high school and moved to Olympia with long time friend and bass player, Krist Novoselic (1965). There, Cobain and Novoselic first formed a band called the Stiff Woodies, then changed the name to Skid Row. Inspired by Black Sabbath, and punk rock bands like Black Flag, by 1986 they had formed Nirvana and two years later moved to Seattle to record their first single with Sub Pop. Drummers came and left the group seemingly through a revolving door, but by 1988 they had managed to complete recording of their first full-length album "Bleach."

Although the vinyl-only release was hardly considered noteworthy, history was in the making as events coincided to secure the band's eminent success. After an influential British rock critic was flown in by Sub Pop to promote the emerging Seattle sound, the fuse was lit and the brilliant marketing scheme orchestrated by the indie-label proved to be the scene's link to the mainstream.

Nirvana was simultaneously building a reputation for their furious live performances that featured piercing guitar distortion, heaps of feedback and unconstrained emotional veracity. Following in the tradition of The Who, and many punk rock acts, Nirvana would often end their sets by smashing instruments and essentially tearing apart themselves and the stage. Young audiences clad in ripped jeans, and faded flannel shirts flocked to see the band that musically and lyrically tapped into their collective discontent.

By now, Nirvana had added drummer Dave Grohl (1969) and was ready to record "Nevermind". Recognized as the single most important album of the decade, "Nevermind" specializes in a hybrid of heavy metal, punk rock, melodious yet dissonant power-chords and intense rage. Surprisingly, the band acknowledges a primary influence for the project as being the Beatles. Although it isn't clear that anyone could decipher Cobain's unintelligible lyrics on the single "Smells Like Teen Spirit", it nevertheless was adopted by a generation as their anthem, and Cobain was adopted as their prophet.

By February of 1992 a succession of hits such as "Come as You Are", "On a Plain", and "Drain You" followed helping the album reach # 1. In the same month Kurt married Courtney Love, leader of the group, Hole and by the fall of that year their daughter Frances Bean was born amidst the controversy of their alleged heroin use.

In late 1993, Nirvana released their third album, "In Utero". Following a tour the band taped an acoustic set for MTV's "Unplugged" series illuminating the bands intense musical prowess that went far beyond their commonly perceived acerbic edge.

In spite of Cobain's coarse, strained singing style, he often exhibited a striking vocal range. But more important is the gut wrenching emotion that he delivered, complimenting the harsh yet melancholy tones, qualities that were perhaps overshadowed by the hype of grunge's unlikely success.

So what does the anti-star do after he achieves stardom? In the end Shakespeare himself could not have written a more tragic story. In the spring of 1994 Kurt Cobain, addicted to heroin and suffering from manic-depression, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Although the band released the live album "From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah" following the singer's suicide, it was to be their last and they disbanded in 1994.

Drummer Dave Grohl went on to form the acclaimed Foo Fighters, while Krist Novoselic avoided returning to the rock spotlight.

Page author: A.E.