1988 † April 05, 1994
United States
Music group
Formed in Aberdeen, Washington, USA, in 1988, Nirvana comprised Kurt Cobain (Hoquiam, Washington, 1967), Krist Novoselic (1965, Croatia) and Dave Grohl (Warren, Ohio, 1969). Grohl was 'something like our sixth drummer', explained Cobain, and had been recruited from east coast band Dave Brammage, having previously played with Scream, who recorded for Minor Threat 's influential Dischord Records label.

Cobain and Krist Novoselic met in 1985. Both were fans of The Melvins, and often hung out at the band's practice space. After a couple of false starts at forming their own band, the duo recruited drummer Aaron Burckhard, creating the first incarnation of what would eventually become Nirvana. Within a few months, Burckhard was fired from the band. He was temporarily replaced by Dale Crover of The Melvins, who played on the band's first demos. Dave Foster then began a brief tenure as the band's drummer. During its initial months, the band went through a series of names, including Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew, and Ted Ed Fred. The band finally settled on Nirvana in early 1988, playing their first show under the name that March. A couple of months later, the band finally settled on a drummer, Chad Channing.

At one point Dinosaur Jr 's J. Mascis had been touted as a permanent fixture, along with Dan Peters from Mudhoney. Having been signed by the Seattle-based Sub Pop Records, the trio completed their debut single, 'Love Buzz'/'Big Cheese', the former a song written and first recorded by 60s Dutch group Shocking Blue. This debut single featured Chad Channing on drums.

However, Channing left the group following a European tour, and as a likely replacement proved hard to find, Dan Peters from labelmates Mudhoney stepped in on a temporary basis. He was featured on the single 'Sliver', Nirvana's sole 1990 release.

New drummer David Grohl reaffirmed a sense of stability.

The revamped trio secured a prestigious contract with Geffen Records, whose faith was rewarded with "Nevermind", which broke the band worldwide. This was a startling collection of songs that transcended structural boundaries, notably the distinctive slow verse/fast chorus format, and almost single-handedly brought the 'grunge' subculture overground.

It topped the US charts early in 1992, eclipsing much-vaunted competition from Michael Jackson and Dire Straits and topped many Album Of The Year polls. The opening track, 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', reached the UK Top 10, further confirmation that Nirvana now combined critical and popular acclaim.

In early 1992 the romance of Cobain and Courtney Love of Hole was sealed when the couple married (Love giving birth to a daughter, Frances Bean). It was already obvious, however, that Cobain was struggling with his new role as 'spokesman for a generation'. The first big story to break concerned an article in Vanity Fayre that alleged Love had taken heroin while pregnant; this saw the state intercede on the child's behalf by not allowing the Cobains alone with the child during its first month. Press interviews ruminated on the difficulties experienced in recording a follow-up album, and also revealed Cobain's use of a variety of drugs in order to stem the pain arising from a stomach complaint.

The recording of "In Utero", produced by Steve Albini, was not without difficulties. Rumours circulated concerning confrontations with both Albini and record company Geffen over the 'low-fi' production. When the record was finally released, the effect was not as immediate as "Nevermind", although Cobain's songwriting remained inspired on 'Penny Royal Tea', 'All Apologies' and the evocative 'Rape Me'.

His descent into self-destruction accelerated in 1994, however, as he went into a coma during dates in Italy (it was later confirmed that this had all the markings of a failed suicide attempt), before returning to Seattle to shoot himself on 5 April 1994.

The man who had long protested that Nirvana were 'merely' a punk band had finally been destroyed by the success that overtook him and them. The wake conducted in the press was matched by public demonstrations of affection and loss, which included suspected copycat suicides. The release of MTV Unplugged In New York offered some small comfort for Cobain's fans, with the singer's understated, aching delivery on a variety of cover versions and Nirvana standards enduring as one of the most emotive sights and sounds of the 90s.

Dave Grohl formed the excellent Foo Fighters, alongside ex- Germs guitarist Pat Smear (who had added second guitar to previous touring engagements and the band's MTV Unplugged appearance). Krist Novoselic formed Sweet 75 early in 1997.
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