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The Nirvana Explosion

(In this page, we'll trace the success
of Nirvana right from the start.)


Kurt Cobain, the founder of Nirvana, listened to nothing except the Beatles until he was 9. Soon he discovered rock bands like Aerosmith, Kiss, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. On his 14th birthday, he chose an electric guitar and an amp over a new bicycle for his present. He started to pen his own songs. Soon Cobain began to follow the Sex Pistols' American Tour in magazines. He didn't know what punk sounded like.

In 1984, Cobain finally tasted punk. He was later introduced to Croatian-American, Krist Novoselic by Melvins leader Buzz Osborne. They began talking about forming a band. In December 1987, Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and fellow Aberdonian, Aaron Burckhard formed a band they finally called Nirvana. Gradually, after playing many wild parties at the Evergreen State College, they became very popular in Olympia.

Nirvana2 In January 1988, Nirvana recorded 10 songs in 6 hours with producer Jack Endino in a demo session. Sub Pop's Jonathan Poneman signed Nirvana after hearing the demo tape. In October, and after 2 drummers (Burckhard and Dave Foster) later, Sub Pop released a limited edition of 1,000 copies of the "Love Buzz" / "Big Cheese" single.

In June 1989, Nirvana's debut album, "Bleach" was released on Sub Pop. The album was recorded for the amount of only $606.17 which was paid by second guitarist Jason Everman, who actually didn't play on the album. He was booted by Nirvana soon after. "Bleach" sold an impressive 35,000 copies (before the release of "Nevermind") with the help of indie kingpins Sonic Youth. In December, the "Blew" EP was released on Tupelo Records in the U.K. By this time, drummer Chad Channing ("Bleach") was axed. Mudhoney's Dan Peters sat in on drums when Nirvana played the Motor Sports International and Garage show. He suffered the same fate days later. In September 1990, Buzz Osborne introduced Dave Grohl of the freshly defunct hardcore band Scream to Cobain and Novoselic. Dave Grohl completed the final version of Nirvana.

In order to reach out to the masses through major distribution and to buy themselves out of their Sub Pop contract, Nirvana began sourcing for a major label. In April 1991, after a fervid bidding war among some major labels, Nirvana finally signed with Geffen DGC Records. The band received $287,000 in advance.

Soon Nirvana recorded their major-label debut album "Nevermind" for $135,000, which was produced by Butch Vig and mixed by Andy Wallace. It was released on September 24, 1991 to a loud bang. "Nevermind" debuted on the Billboard albums charts at No.144 in less than a month after release and soon went gold. Nirvanamania started sweeping across the U.S. and MTV played the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video religiously. "Nevermind" went platinum in November. In January and February 1992, "Nevermind" peaked at No.1 on the Billboard albums chart. The album sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Nirvana3

In December 1992, "Incesticide", a collection of B sides and rarities was released. The album offered a broader and rougher range of sounds, styles and interests, showcasing the creativity and ability of Nirvana even before the release of "Nevermind" shot them to the limelight.

A couple of months later, in February 1993, Nirvana recorded "In Utero", the follow-up to "Nevermind" with producer Steve Albini. It was released on September 14, 1993. There were much hype over the album as Geffen DGC Records were doubtful over the marketability of the album. In January 1994, "In Utero" was altered to sell through chains like Wal-Mart and Kmart, which had refused to stock the LP initially. The altered version of "In Utero" was also shipped to SINGAPORE, the only country to ban the album (although I managed to get the original version !!). Amid all the hype, "In Utero" debuted at No.1.

The band headlined a benefit for Bosnian rape victims and embarked on a tour. Nirvana then captured a brilliant final performance in the MTV Unplugged, before Kurt Cobain decided to put a gun to his head.


© Copyright - 1998-2000 Jimmy Tan CK (All Rights Reserved.)