Nirvana was a Seattle-based rock band, key players in the 'grunge' scene of the 1990's. Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic were the band's founding members and they went through a succession of drummers before settling on Dave Grohl, who joined in 1990.
Nirvana: The Early Years
Krist and Kurt met in 1985 and recruited Aaron Burckhard as a drummer. Within a few months, Burckhard was replaced by Dale Crover of the band The Melvins, who played on the band's earliest demo tapes. Dave Foster then briefly replaced him.
In 1988, the band played their first show as Nirvana and a few months later, Chad Channing became the latest in a line of drummers.
The Sub Pop label released the band's first single, titled 'Love Buzz / Big Cheese in 1988 and the following year, the band's first album, Bleach was released, produced by Jack Endino, who had produced their early demos.
In 1989, Cobain mentioned in an interview that the music was getting "poppier and poppier as I get happier and happier." In 1990, they went into the studio with Butch Vig (later of the band Garbage) to record the demos for the follow-up to Bleach. A few weeks after the recording sessions, Channing was no longer a member of the band. They were soon to be introduced to Dave Grohl who became their new drummer.
Nirvana: The Commercial Breakthrough
Following the advice of Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth), Nirvana signed to DGC Records, David Geffen's company. They chose Butch Vig again as the producer, although Andy Wallace, who mixed Slayer, was brought in to finish the mixing process. The band disliked the resulting polished sound.
The album's first single, 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' gained a great deal of MTV airplay and when they toured Europe in 1991, the shows were dangerously oversold. The album, Nevermind, was achieving sales of 400,000 copies a week in the US by Christmas 1991.
A collection of B-sides and rarities, named Incesticide was released in 1992, in an attempt to beat the bootleggers at their own game. It included BBC sessions, including covers of songs by Devo and The Vaselines.'
The band's third studio album In Utero was produced by Steve Albini, already well known for producing The Pixies. The recording sessions were speedy and several weeks after completion, news stories emerged suggesting DGC called the album "unreleasable."
The album was released, though, after a couple of tracks were remixed, and extra vocals and instrumentation added.
In Utero went to number one on the Billboard 200 chart in 1993, though it was not as successful as Nevermind. Pat Smear was added as a second guitarist for Nirvana's first major US tour since their initial success.
Nirvana performed for MTV Unplugged in 1993. Among their own material, they performed covers of songs by the Meat Puppets, David Bowie and Leadbelly.
Nirvana: The final months
Nirvana began a European tour in 1994 but in Rome, on March 4th, Cobain was rushed to hospital, suffering a reaction to a combination of Rohypnol and alcohol. The rest of the tour was cancelled.
Following this incident, Kurt Cobain's previous heroin addiction resurfaced. He was made to check into a rehabilitation centre but after less than a week, he escaped the facility and flew back to Seattle.
One week later, 8th April 1994, he was found dead at his home. The cause of death was a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.
He left behind his wife, Courtney Love, of the rock band Hole, whom he had married in February 1992 and his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, born August 1993.
Nirvana: Life After Kurt
The MTV Unplugged album was released in November 1994 and was followed by a video compilation entitled Live! Tonight! Sold Out! A compilation of live Nirvana recordings were finally released in 1996, as the compilation From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah.
Grohl and Novoselic have since been involved in legal wranglings, which continued for over a year, with Courtney Love regarding the release of a Nirvana box-set. The box set, With The Lights Out, was finally released in November 2004.
Shortly after Cobain's death, Dave Grohl recorded a collection of demos, which went on to become the debut album for his band The Foo Fighters. He has also drummed for Queens of The Stone Age.