Members: Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl
Cobain and Krist Novoselic met in 1985. Both were fans of The Melvins, and both were interested in forming a band. They worked with a series of drummers (Aaron Burckhard, Dan Peters and Dale Crover of The Melvins, who played on their first demos), before settling on Chad Channing. Channing played on their first album, Bleach, released by Sub Pop records. Bleach was highly influenced by Cobain's then-favorite band, The Melvins, as well as the heavy dirge-rock of Mudhoney.
Though he did not actually play on the album, Jason Everman was credited as playing guitar on Bleach because he put up the money for the recording sessions. After the album's completion, Everman had a brief and contentious tenure with the band as a second guitar player, but was ousted following their first US tour. Not long after, he briefly played bass with Soundgarden, and later formed the band Mind Funk.
In early 1990, the band began working with producer Butch Vig on recordings for the follow-up to Bleach. During the sessions, Kurt and Krist realized that Chad wasn't quite the drummer the band needed, and he was let go after the sessions were complete. After a few weeks with Dale Crover of The Melvins filling in, they drafted Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters, with whom they recorded the song 'Sliver'. In 1990, Dave Osbourne of The Melvins later hooked them up with Dave Grohl, who drummed with D.C. Hardcore punks Scream. 1 (http://www.subpop.com/scripts/main/bands_page.php?id=163) Nirvana continued touring aftwards, including a stint with Sonic Youth chronicled in the documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke.Following repeated recommendation by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, David Geffen signed Nirvana in 1990 and the band began recording their first major label album. The result, Nevermind, is now regarded as a classic. The album was produced by Butch Vig, who had previously worked with Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins.
After recording, Vig initially started off to mix the album as well but both Vig and Nirvana were not satisfied with their results so they decided to call in someone else to mix the album. DGC sent them a list with possible options. Cobain did not want to use mixers that had worked with other bands he liked because he did not want to sound like them, so he decided to call in the guy at the bottom of the list after whose name it read 'Slayer': Andy Wallace. Later Cobain would complain in the press that Wallace had made Nevermind sound too slick, although Wallace had been his own choice and the bandmembers themselves had been involved in the mixing process.1 Wallace, however, had tempered the band's indie rock leanings, and had created a mainstream-ready rock sound that others would attempt to duplicate for the next decade.
Nevermind was a massive, unexpected success, selling millions of copies. The highly infectious single 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' received heavy airplay on MTV, inspiring a slew of imitators, bringing the grunge sound, as well as so-called alternative rock and alternative culture, into the mainstream. The popularity of 'alternative' rock â as well as the sidelining of hair metal â is often credited to Nevermind. Citing exhaustion, the band decided not to undertake another US tour in support of Nevermind, instead opting to make a handful of performances later that year.
In February of 1992, following an Australian tour, Cobain married Courtney Love in Hawaii. Courtney gave birth to a daughter, Frances Bean, in August. Just days after Frances Bean's birth, Nirvana put on a memorable performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. MTV had wanted the band to play 'Teen Spirit', but the band wanted to play a new song called 'Rape Me'. MTV was appalled at the idea of a song called 'Rape Me', and eventually agreed that the band could play 'Lithium' instead. When the band began their performance, Kurt strummed the first few bars of 'Rape Me', giving the MTV execs a solid shock before jumping into 'Lithium'. Just weeks later, Nirvana performed one of its most popular concerts, headlining at the Reading Festival. Cobain entered the stage in a wheelchair as a practical joke, then proceeded to get up and join the rest of the band in tearing through an assortment of old and new material.
Nirvana released Incesticide, a collection of B-sides and rarities, in December of 1992. It is believed that they did so to circumvent bootleggers. The album contained such fan favorites as 'Sliver' and 'Aneurysm' as well as covers of songs by The Vaselines, a band that became more popular as a result of Nirvana's covers.In November of 1993, the band decided to change direction, and sat down for an appearance on MTV Unplugged. The sessions revealed the depth of Cobain's songwriting, which had often been buried under the sonic fury of the band's sound. The song selection also demonstrated Cobain's broad musical interests through his choice of cover songs. It became a hallmark moment of Nirvana's history, if not amplified by the tragedy soon to follow.
In early 1994, the band embarked on a European tour. While the tour started off well, the performances gradually declined, with Kurt looking bored and distracted during the shows. Following a tour stop at Terminal Einz in Munich, Germany, on March 1st, Cobain was diagnosed with bronchitis and severe laryngitis. The next night's show at the same venue was canceled. On the morning of March 4th, Cobain was found unconscious by Courtney Love and rushed to the hospital. The doctor told a press conference that the singer had reacted to a combination of prescription Rohypnol and alcohol. The rest of the tour was canceled, including a planned leg in the UK.
In the ensuing weeks, Cobain's heroin addiction resurfaced. An intervention was organized, and Cobain was convinced to check into rehab. After less than a week in rehab, Cobain climbed over the wall of the facility and flew back to Seattle. A week later, on Friday, April 8, 1994, Cobain's body was discovered at his Seattle home, dead of an apparent suicide, effectively dissolving Nirvana. Several Nirvana albums have been released since Cobain's death. The first came in November of 1994 with the release of the band's subdued and eerily morbid performance for MTV Unplugged, Unplugged in New York. This album included guest appearances by members of the Meat Puppets and cover versions of Meat Puppets, Leadbelly, and David Bowie material.
Two weeks after the release of Unplugged in New York, a video compilation of Nirvana performances, titled Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!, was released. Cobain himself had compiled a good portion of the video, which documented much of the Nevermind tour. Memorable footage from the video included an infamous incident with a bouncer at a Texas club in October of 1991, as well as the band's performance of 'Aneurysm' donned in dresses at Rock in Rio in Brazil in January of 1993.
The original intention was to release the MTV Unplugged set in a double-disc package, with a second disc of live electric material to balance the acoustic set. However, for the two surviving band members, Grohl (now a member of the band Foo Fighters) and Novoselic (who went on to form Sweet 75 and later Eyes Adrift), sorting through the treasure trove of Nirvana recordings so soon after Kurt's passing became too emotionally overwhelming. The live disc, a compilation of Nirvana concert recordings, finally saw release in October of 1996, titled From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah.
In 1997, word spread that Grohl and Novoselic were organizing a box set of Nirvana rarities. Four years later, it was announced that the box set was complete, and would see release in September to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the release of Nevermind. However, shortly before the release date, Courtney Love filed an injunction to stop the box set's release and sued Grohl and Novoselic, claiming that Cobain's former bandmates were hijacking Nirvana's legacy for their own personal interests. What followed was a protracted legal battle over the ownership of Nirvana's music that lasted for more than a year.