Nirvana Biography

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NirvanaNirvana was a popular rock band that originated from the home of grunge rock in Washington, United States. The band first entered into the mainstream with the hit song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from their 1991 album Nevermind. The song started the evolution of a subgenre of alternative rock called grunge and brought it into the mainstream.

Before Nirvana, grunge rock was just known in the underground scene. It was Nirvana who brought the sound into a wider worldwide audience. And with Nirvana’s popularity and ascension into rock n’ roll history, it paved the way for the grunge invasion into the mainstream as other Seattle grunge bands such as Alice in Chains,

Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden came in and shared a bit of the limelight and gained notoriety as well as their own legion of fans. As a result, with what Nirvana was able to bring into the minds of listeners to the new sound, alternative rock became a dominant genre on radio and music television in the United States during the early-to-middle 1990’s.

Nirvana was the brainchild of the late Kurt Cobain and Krist Novolesic who met each other in 1985. Both were then fans of the band knwon as The Melvins. Cobain and Novolesic often hung out at the band’s practice space. The duo planned to form their own band and recruited then drummer Aaron Burckhard. This trio formed the first ever incarnation of what would eventually become the band Nirvana.

Along the way, Cobain and Novolesic worked with several drummers, which included Dale Crover of The Melvins, who can be heard playing on their first demos. It was at this same time that the band were known by a series of names, including Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew, and Ted Ed Fred. The band finally settled on Nirvana in early 1988, and a couple of months later, finally settled on Chad Channing as the drummer for the group. Dave Grohl joined in at around the time Nirvana was releasing their Nevermind album.

Initially, the record company was hoping to sell only about 250,000 copies of the Nevermind album. Surprisingly, the album became certified triple-platinum, selling over three million copies in the US in just less than six months after its release. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" began to receive heavy airplay on MTV, starting the coming out of alternative rock and becoming part of the mainstream fare. The sidelining of the hair metal bands during this time was also credited to the popularity that Nevermind achieved.

In January of 1992, the album was able to get the top spot of the Billboard album charts, and just like a ceremonial changing of the guards, replaced Michael Jackson’s album Dangerous. This was considered as the defining symbol of the rise of alternative music over popular music.

It was the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in their Nevermind album that cemented their notoriety as grunge rock’s foremost flag bearer. Nirvana’s soft spoken frontman, Kurt Cobain found himself suddenly referred to in the media as the "spokesman of the generation", speaking for the Generation X population. Cobain’s songs became their anthem and Nirvana as the flagship band. But Cobain was uncomfortable with the attention and placed his focus on the band’s music.

While Nirvana’s mainstream popularity waned a bit just as fast as they have gained it, their core audience and loyal fans were still enamored with the band’s dark interior. This was particularly became the focus of their appeal especially after their 1993 performance on MTV Unplugged.

The acoustic sessions revealed to the public just how deep Cobain’s songwriting really is, stripped bare and unmasked from the usual sonic fury that the band’s sound was known then. The song selection that the band played on the MTV Unplugged sessions also demonstrated Cobain’s broad musical interests and tastes through the choice of cover songs they played. It became a defining moment of Nirvana’s history and of Cobain’s genius which was further amplified by the tragedy that followed.

Nirvana’s brief yet memorable run ended with the death of Cobain in 1994 of an aparent suicide. The news of Cobain’s death shocked the music world. With his death, Nirvana’s popularity even became greater in the years that followed. Eight years after Cobain’s death, "You Know You’re Right" topped radio playlists around the world. It proved that Nirvana and the musical talent that Cobain was able to infuse to the band was more than skin deep. Since their debut Nevermind album, Nirvana was able to sell more than fifty million albums worldwide.

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