Nirvana was an American Rock group that formed in Washington state in 1987 and created an entirely new genre that was given the name “Grunge”. Grunge contains a few different elements consisting of Punk Rock influence as well as heavy metal. Nirvana was founded by Kurt Cobain who was both the lead singer and guitarist, and Krist Novoselic, the bassist of the band. They went through at least 5 different drummers but by the time Nirvana became popular and throughout the rest of their career, Dave Grohl was the drummer.
Their debut album Bleach was released in 1989, and although the album did not chart, it did do well with critics. The band’s early songs were heavily fueled by angry emotions, but their music chilled out quite a bit as time went on. Nirvana had their first major success with their second album Nevermind which was released in 1991. Although Cobain was embarrassed by the final mix of the album, this album took the world by storm with its angsty lyrics and expressive sound. The band had a natural inclination to feel that they had failed by succeeding. Something that is very common amongst people who were influenced by punk rock at the time.
The Nevermind album cover, which includes a baby swimming in a pool, ended up becoming one of the most iconic album covers of all time. Cobain had watched a documentary on water birthing which ended up inspiring the album cover. At first, he wanted the cover to be of a woman giving birth underwater, but that was said to be too gross so he settled for a swimming baby chasing a dollar bill. Kurt Cobain had a strong interest in childbirth and pregnancy.
The band’s third and final album In Utero which contained “All Apologies” and “Rape Me”, was released in 1993, and like the Nevermind album, it reached number one on the U.S. album charts. In Utero on multiple occasions has been ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time. The album was less mainstream sounding and a bit more harsh and abrasive. At this point in Nirvana’s success, the band headed out on a European tour. Their final concert took place in Germany in March of 1994.
During the tour, Kurt Cobain was found unconscious in their hotel room after mixing some prescription medication with alcohol. He was rushed to the hospital and the rest of the tour was canceled. Upon returning to the U.S., Kurt Cobain’s heroin addiction was getting out of control. After an intervention, Kurt decided to go to rehab where he stayed for less than a week. On April 8, 1994, Kurt Cobain was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Nirvana disbanded after Kurt Cobain’s death but went on to release multiple live albums. The grunge movement came to an end following Kurt Cobain’s death, but Kurt will always be remembered for creating the genre and expressing his angst, anger, and emotions through his songwriting.