For the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death, we've decided not to mourn, but to celebrate the time he and Nirvana ruled rock n' roll with their crazy antics and incomparable sound. Here are our five favorite Nirvana moments:
Nirvana’s Quiet Riot
It’s hard to discount Nirvana’s set on MTV’s Unplugged as one of the greatest moments in the band’s history. Stripping the band of their electric instruments and setting them in front of a hushed crowd created in an intimacy Nirvana wasn’t known for, but their fans welcomed all the same. Despite constantly growing tensions within the band and Cobain’s heroin withdrawal, Nirvana turned in a performance that would be referred to as “one of rock’s best live albums ever.” Cobain’s powerful rendition of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” [the final track on the album] makes it hard to listen to the set on repeat, but worth it every single time.
SNL and No. 1 Hits
On January 11, 1992, Nirvana took over the famed Saturday Night Live stage and performed their hits “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Territorial Pissings.” That same day, the group’s breakthrough album Nevermind knocked the King of Pop, Michael Jackson from his seat at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 album charts. Additionally, for two or three weeks prior, Nirvana had been outselling big names like U2, MC Hammer, and Metallica. The album spent 252 weeks on Billboard’s album charts, and Nirvana dug its heels even further into music history when Rolling Stone later named Nevermind the Best Album of the 90’s.
Smells Like Rock N’ Roll History
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is one of those songs that will never truly go out of style, in part because there’s always another angsty teen to sympathize with, but mostly because of a riff that seems to transcend time and hit 90’s grunge right on the nose. The song made its early debut at Seattle’s OK Hotel and the show went on to be referred to as “genre-defining,” forcing audience member to come to terms with the fact that they’d witnessed history in the making. Footage of “Teen Spirit’s” live debut is included on Nirvana’s 2004 box set, With The lights Out.
Reading Is Fundamental
In their final UK performance, Nirvana played Reading’s legendary music festival in August of 1992 to a crowd of over 50,000 people. Amid rumors that Kurt wasn’t well and had been sent to the hospital, he showed up onstage in a wheelchair, hospital gown and a blonde wig and went on to rip through a set no one would soon forget. The fierce mix of both old and new material became one of Nirvana’s most celebrated performances and according to drummer Dave Grohl, one of their biggest moments.
Throwing Food Gets You Thrown Out
It takes a true rocker to get tossed out of a launch party for their own album. After reportedly throwing pieces of watermelon filled with ranch dressing, and subsequently starting a food fight, the guys of Nirvana were booted out of Nevermind’s launch party. You think that’s where Dave Grohl would look for inspiration when naming his band The Foo Fighters? We’re not sure, but we do know that the band definitely showed some “Teen Spirit” when they started a food fight worthy of a high school comedy.