Nirvana was a well-known rock band which originated from Aberdeen, Washington in America. The group which was active between 1987 and 1994 was founded by lead vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bass guitarist Krist Novoselic. Drummer Dave Grohl later joined the group in 1990.

This American rock band was popularly known to have risen for the “Generation X” or the “Gen X” with an initial style that was akin to various post-punk bands such as the Gang of Four. The band transitioned graciously from the struggles of building a fan base through diverting to sub Pop grunge while finding its own musical identity. 

Through the changes that occurred in their music career, it could be generally analyzed that the meaning of their name “Nirvana (A place of perfect peace and happiness) was a possible contrast of the reality the band faced.

Formed in 1987, the group was soon recognized as a significant part of the Seattle grunge music scene. Though the band had its life of reunions from time to time, the group had a short life span of seven years.

History of Nirvana

In a city known for its wealth in wildlife, timber and fishing, Aberdeen, Washington spared its leisure time investing in the music industry.

Kurt Cobain (lead vocals & lead guitar) met Krist Novoselic (bass guitarist) in Aberdeen High School located in Washington. The two became friends when they each began frequenting rehearsal shows of the American Rock band, Melvins.

It was in the interest of Cobain to form a band with Novoselic but the disinterest of Krist spanned for a long while. In order to motivate Krist, Cobain gave him a demo tape of a project titled Fecal Matter, he was yet to embark on.

After three long years of the two being friends, Novoselic finally listened to the demo and was ready to start the band. They named their premier band “The Sellouts” in remembrance of an American Rock band, Creedence Clearwater Revival which was also known as CCR. 

Having a vocalist and a guitarist, they needed a drummer to have a semi-functioning band so they engaged Bob McFadden as a drummer but the project fell apart no later than a month.

After the failure of the first project, the young men decided to try again by recruiting Aaron Burkhard, a 24-year-old drummer from Oakland, California.

The band kicked off and through the months that the band was formed, they changed their names from The Sellouts to Skid Row to Ted Ed Fred. After a series of contemplations, the group decided to go with “Nirvana”, with its meaning being an idyllic state or place.

This was Kurt’s idea since he wanted a name that was beautiful instead of hard and hostile like other bands.

Months after the formation of Nirvana, Kurt and Krist relocated to different cities in Washington; Kurt to Olympia and Krist to Tacoma. The two lost contact with their band mate, Aaron and began practicing again with another drummer, Dale Crover from the fan struck band, Melvins. 

A year later, the band had to welcome yet another drummer, Dave Foster as a replacement for Crover when he moved from Washington to San Francisco.

Dave Foster’s stay with Nirvana lasted a few months till his involvement in a jail scandal. He was replaced by old band member, Aaron Burckhard who left the group unexpectedly after he claimed to have been having a “hangover” during one of the band practices. Later on, in the year, they were introduced to Chad Channing. Channing played for the first time with the band in 1988.

November 1988, was the month the group released its first single, “Love Buzz” a cover of a song originally written by the Dutch rock band Shocking Blues on the Seattle independent record label Sub Pop. 

The band began recording its debut album “Bleach” after a successful interview with John Robb. The group could not afford to pay the recording fees at that time, so Jason Everman (an American musician and soldier), opted to help and paid the fees of $606.07. He was later brought as a second guitarist of the band. Jason quit the same year, following a tour by the band.

In 1990, the group started working with famous producers, Butch Vig on their next album at which time there were conflicts rising in the group dew to Kurt and Krist’s declining interest in the choice of style for drumming by their drummer, Channing and this caused some major setbacks between him and his band members.

In June 1990 while the band was breaking through the industry, Channing left. This did not deter the band from recording their single “Silver” with their new drummer Dan Peters.

In the latter part of 1990, the band was introduced to a drummer named Dave Grohl. According to Novoselic, within minutes of Grohl auditioning, they knew he was the drummer they had been looking for all this while.

The band soon recorded its second major album, Nevermind and was looking forward to selling 250,000 copies of the album but were overwhelmed with the successes as the album sold over 400, 000 copies in a week in the US. 

Nirvana released a single in 1993, and another record selling album, “In Utero” selling over 50 million copies in the US.

The group disbanded after the death of lead vocalist and co-founder Kurt Cobain who passed away in April, 1994.

The remaining members as well as Kurt’s wife released a posthumous live album titled MTV Unplugged in New York (1994). This project won a Grammy during the 1996 Grammy Awards.


Achievements of Nirvana

The band earned numerous awards and nominations over the span of their music career. The group swept away the Best Alternative Video and Best New Artist at the “MTV Video Music Awards” in 1992.

They earned the ranking as the 42nd greatest artist of “Rock N’ Roll” in 1998, Definitive 200 Albums of All Time and ALL-TIME 100 Albums. 

The band received major nominations like Greatest Artist of All Time from the UK Music Hall of Fame and placed number 27 on the Rolling Stone list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004.

They continued to grab awards between the years of 2011 and 2014 such as the 500 Greatest Songs and Albums of All Time and the 30 ALL-TIME Best Music Videos. 

All in all, Nirvana had sold more than 75 million records globally as of 2009. During the span of their career, they earned numerous prestigious awards including the below:

  • MTV Video Music Awards
  • 2 NME Awards
  • 1 Brit Award
  • 1 Grammy Award 

They also produced at least four chart-topping albums on Billboard 200 and five number-one hit singles.

Facts about Nirvana

Co-founder and lead vocalist, Kurt Cobain dropped out of high school and worked as a janitor at the very same school for a few years.

Their single, Smells like Teen Spirit was inspired by Kurt Cobain’s girlfriend’s deodorant.

The band was on a few occasions accused of plagiarism.

The band was thrown out of their own record release party on a Friday the 13th.

Their album titled In Utero, was initially named, “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die”. Though the band dropped that initial name, they still released a song with that very title.

Brief Conclusion

Despite the short years lived by the punk characterized band, they left a legacy in the hearts of their fans and memory of many big awards shows in the US. Their ability to bring life into whatever they touched, bringing alternative rock to the masses and being one of the best-selling bands of all times is a recognition deemed fit to acknowledge.

Notable Nirvana Songs

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