Nirvana was an American rock band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, with the longest-lasting being Dave Grohl, who joined the band in 1990.
With the lead single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from their 1991 album Nevermind, Nirvana entered into the mainstream, bringing along with it a subgenre of alternative rock called grunge. Other Seattle grunge bands such as Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden also gained popularity, and, as a result, alternative rock became a dominant genre on radio and music television in the United States during the early-to-middle 1990s. As Nirvana’s frontman, Kurt Cobain found himself referred to in the media as the “spokesman of a generation”, with Nirvana the “flagship band” of “Generation X“. Cobain was uncomfortable with the attention and placed his focus on the band’s music, challenging the band’s audience with their third studio album In Utero.
Nirvana’s brief run ended with Cobain’s death in April 1994, but the band’s popularity continued in the years that followed. More than eight years later, “You Know You’re Right“, an unfinished demo from the band’s final recording session, topped radio playlists around the world. Since their debut, the band has sold over fifty million albums worldwide.
May 10, 1965 Krist Novoselic is born.
February 20, 1967 Kurt Cobain is born.
January 14, 1969 Dave Grohl is born.
Fall 1985 Kurt meets Krist. They play in several bands together, including Stiff Woodies.
December 1987 Kurt, Krist and drummer Aaron Burckhard form the original lineup of Nirvana in Aberdeen, Washington.
January 23, 1988 Nirvana records a 10-song demo with the “Godfather of Grunge,” legendary Seattle producer Jack Endino. Sub Pop co-honcho Jonathan Poneman hears the tape and offers to put out a Nirvana single. The band accepts.
October 30, 1988 Kurt smashes his first guitar.
September 25, 1990 Dave Grohl, former drummer for Washinton, D.C.’s Scream, joins Nirvana.
October 1990 Nirvana briefly tours England with L7.
Winter 1991 Nirvana signs with DGC Records.
September 24, 1991 Nevermind is released.
October 12, 1991 Nevermind is certified a gold album.
November 1991 The band starts a six-week European tour as Nirvanamania sweeps the United States. MTV airs “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video constantly; the song is hailed as an anthem for a generation.
January 11, 1992 Nevermind hits No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
January/February 1992 Nirvana tours Australia, Japan and Hawaii.
April 1992 Nirvana appears on the cover of Rolling Stone.
June/July 1992 Nirvana tours Europe.
December 15, 1992 Incesticide, a collection of B-sides and rarities, is released. It goes gold the following spring.
April 9, 1993 Nirvana plays a concert at San Francisco’s Cow Palace to raise awareness of and generate aid for rape survivors in Bosnia-Herzegovina. L7, the Breeders and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy are also on the bill.
September 21, 1993 In Utero is released.
October 18, 1993 Nirvana starts a three-month tour of North America.
November 19, 1993 Nirvana tapes an all-acoustic show for “MTV Unplugged” at Sony Studios in New York. Cris and Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets sit in on three Meat Puppets songs.
December 16, 1993 MTV airs Nirvana’s “Unplugged” show.
January 7, 1994 Nirvana plays the Seattle Arena. It will be the band’s last U.S. show.
February 6, 1994 Nirvana embarks on a tour of Europe.
April 8, 1994 Kurt Cobain is found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound.
November 1, 1994 Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged” performance is released as MTV Unplugged in New York. Two tracks not aired on the MTV broadcast appear on the album.
October 1, 1996 The Nirvana live album, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, is released, featuring performances from 1989 to 1994.