Formed in Aberdeen, Washington, USA, at the end of 1987, the Nirvana that the MTV generation came to love comprised Kurt Cobain (guitar/vocals), Krist Novoselic (bass) and Dave Grohl (drums).
Having been signed by the Seattle-based Sub Pop Records, the original line-up of Nirvana completed their debut single, ‘Love Buzz’/‘Big Cheese’, of which their debut album ‘Bleach’ followed. The set confirmed Nirvana's ability to match heavy riffs with melody and they quickly attracted a cult following.
The revamped trio of Cobain, Novoselic and newly recruited Grohl secured a prestigious contract with Geffen Records, whose faith was rewarded with ‘Nevermind’, which broke the band worldwide. This was a collection of songs that transcended structural boundaries and almost single-handedly brought the ‘Grunge’ subculture overground. The MTV channel's non-stop airing of the video for the opening track, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", helped push sales of ‘Nevermind’ through the roof, and when released as a single the song reached the US and UK Top 10.
In February 1992, the romance of Cobain and Courtney Love was sealed when the couple married, The first big story to break concerned an article in Vanity Fair magazine that alleged Love had taken heroin while pregnant. The recording of ‘In Utero’ was not without difficulties. When the record was finally released, the effect was not as immediate as ‘Nevermind’, although Cobain's song writing remained inspired on ‘Penny Royal Tea’, ‘All Apologies’ and the evocative ‘Rape Me’.
Cobain's descent into self-destruction accelerated in 1994, however, as he went into a coma during dates in Italy, 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.
A legal squabble broke out in summer 2002 between Love and Grohl/Novoselic over the ownership of Nirvana's unreleased recordings. The dispute was eventually settled, however, and in October the first new Nirvana recording to emerge since Cobain's death, ‘You Know You're Right’, made its debut in the US Hot 100. The enduring appeal of Nirvana was confirmed with the following month's publication of Cobain's private diaries, and the commercial success of the same year's compilation album. In 2004, Geffen released a box set comprising three CDs of unreleased material and a DVD of live performances and rehearsals.
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