P.B. Rage, 8th September 2005, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license
Nirvana was an American grunge band formed in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. They were formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic, and after moving through a string of drummers came to include drummer Dave Grohl following the release of their first album, Bleach. Moving away from more traditional rock/metal sounds, they came to found a subgenre of alternative rock, grunge. They were playing raw, thick, distorted electric guitars at slower tempos then previously seen in rock or metal, over the top of angst driven, apathetic lyrics. Cobains raspy, unpolished voice sat perfectly embedded in this landscape as he sang of pain, relationships, and life. This was the general layout of Nirvana, and the precedent for an explosion of grunge bands throughout the US in the early and mid nineties. After signing to major label DGC Records, and the release of their second album Nevermind in 1991, Nirvana found unexpected success from their lead single Smells Like Teen Spirit. DGC records were expecting a modest 250,000 album sales from the release but found that the album was selling at 400,000 units per week. Smells like Teen Spirit struck a chord with college students in particular, and started a revolution of grunge music across the country with Cobain finding himself referred as the "spokesman of a generation", a title he was less than comfortable with. In January 1992, the album displaced Michael Jackson's album Dangerous at number one on the Billboard album charts, and also topped the charts in numerous other countries worldwide. The month Nevermind reached number one, Billboard proclaimed, "Nirvana is that rare band that has everything: critical acclaim, industry respect, pop radio appeal, and a rock-solid college/alternative base." Cobain was uncomfortable with the attention and placed his focus on the band's music, and believing the band's message and artistic vision to have been misinterpreted by the public, the band cut their tour for Nevermind short after touring consistently for over a year. After moving back into recording for their next album, In Utero, Nirvana continued to make headlines partly due to their performance of a timeless acoustic set on MTV Unplugged entitled, MTV Unplugged in New York. With the release of In Utero in 1993 the band made an effort to distance themselves from the mainstream success they had inadvertently stepped into, however despite the album not being quite so well received it was still a great success pleasing both enthusiasts and the mainstream.
They were undoubtedly the biggest band in the world, however as the band toured for their latest release in Italy, 1994, Cobain was found unconscious in their hotel room by wife Courtney Love. He was rushed to the hospital and a later press release stated that he’d had a bad reaction to prescription drug rohypnol. It was soon discovered however ,that Cobain had substance abuse problems with heroin, and within 14 days of the incident he was found dead of a shotgun wound to the head, in an apparent suicide. Nirvana left a legacy behind them like few other bands and continues to be one of the most respected bands in the world for their contribution to music and their undeniable, unfulfilled talent. To date Nirvana have sold over 25 million albums in the US, and over 50 million albums worldwide.