In case you did not know, Nirvana were a grunge band that was active in the mid 1990s. This band is one of the reasons why I started to listen to Rock music. I was a Nirvana fan before Kurt Cobain died in 1994.
I still remember the wave of instant Nirvana fans that came along when their MTV Unplugged in New York album was released. I also remember hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the first time. Their Nevermind album was absolutely phenomenal and I still consider it to be one of my favourite albums of all time.
Today I’m schooling you on this grunge band (which has a huge impact on rock music and music as we know it today). I hope that you learn something today, that you did not know before.
Here are 20 Nirvana facts that you might not have known
1. The band was formed in 1987 in Aberdeen, Washington in the USA.
2. When the band started out, they through a series of names: starting with Skid Row and including Pen Cap Chew, Bliss, and Ted Ed Fred. Eventually they settled on Nirvana. Kurt Cobain “wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk rock name like the Angry Samoans”.
3. When Dave Grohl (who later formed Foo Fighters) joined the band in 1990, he was the 5th drummer to do so.
4. Pat Smear (famous for playing in The Germs and Foo Fighters) was the touring guitarist for the band on their final tour in 1993/1994.
5. Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl were the 3 members of the band from 1990-1994. Before 1990 Aaron Burckhard, Dale Crover, Dave Foster, Chad Channing, Jason Everman and Dan Peters were members of the band.
6. On the 8th of April 1994 Kurt Cobain’s body was discovered at his home in Lake Washington. He had committed suicide with a shotgun. The coroner estimated that he had died on the 5th of April 1994. In his suicide note he address his imaginary friend ‘Boodah’, it said “I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing . . . for too many years now”.
7. Since their debut in 1987, Nirvana have sold more than 75 million records worldwide (more than 25 million in the USA alone).
8. Their album Nevermind has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. The single for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (the leading single of the album) has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.
9. MTV Unplugged in New York made its debut at number one on the Billboard charts when it was released in November 1994. In 1995 the album won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.
10. Kurt Cobain usually wrote lyrics for Nirvana‘s songs minutes before recording them. He 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.”
11. Kurt Cobain worked as a janitor at Weatherwax High School, not long after dropping out of that very school. The dancing janitor in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video was an inside joke for those who knew of Cobain’s old job.
12. Nirvana‘s first official release was a cover of “Love Buzz” (originally released by the Dutch rock band Shocking Blue).
13. Their first album, Bleach cost only $606.17 to make. Musician Jason Everman provided the necessary funds, and he was brought onto the band as a second guitarist. He also got a credit on the album even though he didn’t play a single note on it. In contrast, their best-selling album, Nevermind had a budget of $65,000.
14. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was inspired by Kurt Cobain’s girlfriend’s deodorant and alcohol. Kathleen Hannah (the Bikini Kill vocalist / songwriter) wrote “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit” during a heavy night of partying on Kurt’s wall. She was actually referencing the deodorant that Kurt’s then girlfriend (Vail) was using at the time. Cobain loved the phrasing and wrote the song without knowing of the Teen Spirit deodorant’s existence until after it was recorded.
15. The band’s third studio album, In Utero was originally going to be titled I Hate Myself And I Want To Die. Even though it was intended as a joke, Krist Novoselic pointed out to Cobain that he was opening himself up to tons of potential lawsuits, and the idea was dropped.
16. Their song, “Heart Shaped Box” was originally titled “Heart Shaped Coffin”. The song was inspired by an actual heart-shaped box sent by Courtney Love to Kurt Cobain during the early days of their relationship.
17. Steve Albini (the producer that worked on In Utero), only took a flat fee of $100,000 for his work. He refused to take a percentage on the album’s record sales. He considered it to be “immoral” and “an insult to the artist.”
18. The Seattle-based indie label Sub Pop was the first to sign the up-and-coming Nirvana. In the late 1980s, they not only signed Nirvana, but also other soon-to-be hit grunge bands like Soundgarden and Mudhoney. They would later go on to sign on bands like Fleet Foxes, The Shins, and Flight of the Concords.
19. In 2014, Nirvana was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. What makes it unique is that they were inducted on their first year of eligibility, a rare feat among bands and musicians.
20. Kurt Cobain went by the name ‘Kurdt Kobain’ in the early days of Nirvana (after seeing it misspelled that way) in order to distance himself from his music.