There’s no denying that Nirvana caused quite a stir in the years that they were active. Whether due to frontman Kurt Cobain’s eccentric ways or the band’s assertive attitudes, there was never a dull moment.
To mark almost 30 years of Nevermind, we’ve put together 15 interesting facts about Nirvana and the album itself. If you aren’t already familiar with Nirvana’s presence, some of these might shock you…
1. The band were kicked out of their own release party
Yep – you heard that right. Nevermind’s album release party was held in a small Seattle venue called Rebar. But, in true Nirvana fashion, the band showed up heavily intoxicated. This led to a food fight involving a watermelon and ranch dressing, which, as you can imagine, caused quite a mess. The band quickly got booted out.
2. The album features more than one drummer
Most people know that Dave Grohl (frontman of the Foo Fighters) was actually Nirvana’s drummer back in the day. But, what you may not know, is that he wasn’t the only one.
Chad Channing (who played the drums on Nirvana’s previous album Bleach) was actually meant to sit in Grohl’s seat. But, the band preferred Grohl’s demos, essentially kicking Channing out of the band. If you listen closely, you can still hear Channing’s work in the background of “Polly”.
3. The cover almost featured a baby girl
It’s safe to say that Nevermind has one of the most iconic and controversial covers to date. It’s the one that features a baby boy in a swimming pool, looking towards a dollar bill.
The truth is, this cover almost didn’t happen. The cover photographer, Kirk Weddle, originally did the shoot with a baby girl. The idea was (loosely) based on Cobain’s interest in water births, although the concept had to be tweaked a lot so that it wasn’t as graphic. Either way, Nirvana insisted that they “wanted the d–k” on the cover instead of having a girl. The shoot had to start all over again.
4. It was originally called “Sheep”
Although Nirvana was quite a controversial band, we can all agree that they were very clever. They knew what was needed to rise to fame and knew exactly how to build a devoted following. For this reason, the album was originally going to be called Sheep.
The title Sheep originated from an inside joke within the band, referring to how the album would cause flocks of fans to follow them everywhere. Although they didn’t stick with the Sheep title, they were right about the fans.
5. The band almost split up six months after the release
In true Nirvana fashion, the band almost split up just six months after the release of Nevermind. This is because Cobain, out of the blue, started demanding more royalties. Both Grohl and Novoselic threatened to leave the band as a protest. Needless to say, Cobain didn’t get his way this time around.
6. The hidden track was non-existent on some copies
The hidden track “Endless, Nameless” can be found a few minutes after “Something In The Way”. Well, that’s true unless you bought one of the first batches of the album.
The decision to keep this hidden track was made in a verbal agreement, which led to some miscommunication at the time of production. Due to this, the initial copies of Nevermind do not feature the hidden track. Oops…
7. Cobain took video matters into his own hands
The original recording of the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video was directed by Sam Bayer. All was going smoothly until Cobain watched it through…
Cobain hated Bayer’s work so much that he flew back to Los Angeles to edit the video himself. In his own words, he “threw in a few extra things which pretty much saved it”. We’ll let you be the judge of that:
8. MTV was terrified of this release
Nirvana’s nonchalant behavior was admired by fans but feared by TV channels. This was particularly true with MTV.
At the 1992 MTV VMAs, Nirvana played a snippet from their (at the time unreleased) song “Rape Me”. If you’ve listened to the opening lyrics of this song, you’ll know why this caused quite a stir. This unexpected reveal of the song sent shockwaves through MTV, which almost had to lead to a censored commercial break.
9. It almost lead to a movie role
According to Courtney Love, director Quentin Tarantino asked Cobain to play the role of Lance in Pulp Fiction. Although this didn’t end up happening, it explains why Tarantino is thanked in the notes of In Utero.
10. The album beat Michael Jackson
Nevermind famously beat the King of Pop to the number one spot, spending a total of 252 weeks on the Billboard 200 Albums charts.
11. It was the eighth best-selling album in 1992
If beating Michael Jackson wasn’t enough, Nevermind was also deemed the eighth best-selling album in 1992. The likes of Billy Ray Cyrus and Whitney Houston sat in higher places.
12. …And was certified diamond
The success didn’t stop there. Nevermind is now certified diamond and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. 11 million of these copies were sold in America.
13. Cobain got married 5 months after release
Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were quite a famous couple. They actually married exactly five months after the release of Nevermind, tying the knot in Hawaii on February 24th 1992. All members of the band attended the wedding.
14. John Lennon (loosely) inspired the record
When listening to Nevermind, you’ll find that Cobain’s vocals are double-tracked. This adds more definition to the tracks and is something done by many successful artists.
The inspiration to double-track all vocals actually came from the impact of the Beatles. John Lennon used the same technique, which was pretty much the only reason why Cobain felt comfortable doing it. He originally thought it would make the songs sound “too fake”.
15. Cobain was embarrassed by the album
Unfortunately, we’re not ending this article on a positive note. At the time of production, the band were perfectly happy with the final product and gave the album the go-ahead. As soon as it started gaining success, however, Cobain changed his mind. He stated that he was “embarrassed” by the album and found it “quite lame”. But hey, at least it was paying the bills!
Nirvana’s history is, without a doubt, a turbulent one, but fascinating nonetheless. We hope you enjoyed learning more about what happened around the time of Nevermind’s release!