Nirvana – 26 Impressive Facts You Didn’t Know
Formed in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987, Nirvana were founded by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. They went through a number of drummers before taking on Dave Grohl in 1990. They are responsible for popularising the whole of the grunge movement.
They released 3 studio albums which were “Bleach”, “Nevermind” and “In Utero”. But enough of the stuff you probably already know, here are 26 impressive facts about Nirvana that you didn’t know.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” Was Inspired By Kurt’s Girlfriend
Kurt Cobain’s then girlfriend spray-painted the words “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the wall of his apartment. The Teen Spirit referred to was the brand of deodorant she used. Apparently Kurt never even realised the deodorant was called “Teen Spirit”.
The Dancing Janitor In The Video For “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Was An Inside Joke
In the music video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” you can clearly see a dancing janitor. Nirvana did that deliberately as a joke at Kurt’s expense. He dropped out of his high school-Weatherwax High School but went back to work there as a janitor. The band members who knew about his old job included the dancing janitor as an inside joke.
Kurt Cobain Loved Animals
Kurt had a cat called Melvin, a rat called Kitty and numerous turtles.
“About A Girl” Was About One Of Cobain’s Girlfriends Who Never Knew It Was About Her
Tracey Marander asked Kurt why he wrote songs about everything except her. He wrote “About A Girl” and she never realised it was about her until she read about it in the official biography of the band, “Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana”, 4 years later.
The First Time Kurt Saw Himself On TV, He Called His Mum
On Sunday September 29th 1991 “Smells Like Teen Spirit” premiered on MTV’s show “120 Minutes”. Kurt watched himself from his hotel room and called his mum to tell her he was on TV.
The “Nevermind” Sound Was Due To John Lennon
The producer of the album “Nevermind” Butch Vig, wanted Kurt to double track his vocals to make the songs sound richer but Kurt was opposed to the idea. Until Butch told him John Lennon did it which he knew would be enough to get Kurt to agree as he was a huge John Lennon Fan.
Kurt Wasn’t Impressed With “Nevermind”
Kurt claimed the radio friendly album was “Candy-ass” because it went away from his indie, punk roots.
Nirvana Got Thrown Out Of Their Own Record Release Party
With invitations that read “Nevermind Triskaidekaphobia, Here’s Nirvana.” The record label Geffen threw a record release party for Nirvana’s album “Nevermind”. Kurt started a food fight by throwing ranch dressing over Krist. A bouncer saw it and threw all 3 members of the band out of their own record launch. The 3 stood outside talking to friends before moving the party to a friend’s house.
All 3 Nirvana Albums Started With Different Titles
Their first album was going to be called “Too Many Humans” until Cobain saw a sign that said “Bleach Your Works” in San Francisco, Their second was going to be called “Sheep” and their third started out as “I Hate Myself And I Want To Die”.
Krist Novoselic Was Banned For Life From The Seattle Center Coliseum And Still Played A Gig There
Just before performing at the Washington Music Industry Coalition Benefit in 1992, The band noticed a photo of Novoselic on the wall backstage saying that he was banned for life because of his behaviour at a Sonic Youth concert a year earlier. They still went on to perform there, with no reprimands as of yet.
Kurt Wrote The Lyrics For Songs Literally Minutes Before Recording Them
He said “When I write a song the lyrics are the least important subject. I can go through two or three different subjects in a song and the title can mean absolutely nothing at all”.
The Video For “Lithium” Was Going To Be A Cartoon
The idea that Kurt had for the video for “Lithium” was a video featuring a girl called “Prego” who discovered some eggs that hatch out. Even the director Kevin Kerslake agreed with the concept. But what neither of them realised at the time, was it would take 4 months to produce the cartoon. So they used live footage of the band instead.
Nirvana’s First Album, “Bleach” Cost $606.17 To Make
The recording sessions were paid for by newly recruited guitarist Jason Everman who never featured on the album. But as he was the only band member to have a paid job, he had to foot the bill. Jason never actually stayed with Nirvana long as he and Kurt clashed often.
Their First Single Was A Cover
Nirvana’s first official single was “Love Buzz”, a cover of the Dutch rock band Shocking Blue’s track. Shocking Blue were also the band that made “Venus” that was covered by Bananarama in 1986.
Kurt Called His Local Radio Station To Request His Own Song
After Nirvana recorded and released “Love Buzz”, Kurt gave a copy to his local radio station and waited for it to be played. Eventually his patience ran out so he called the station and requested it to be played.
Nirvana Almost Split Up Over Arguments About Royalties
6 months after the album “Nevermind” was released, Kurt Cobain demanded 75% royalties from the album’s sales as he’d written most of the songs. The rest of the band agreed until he said he wanted the royalties backdated to the release of the album; they weren’t so cool. The ensuing arguments nearly split the band up. After a week of arguments they agreed but there were bad feelings within the band from this point.
Kurt Suffered From Chronic Stomach Pain
Kurt often suffered from chronic stomach pain for which he visited a number of doctors. Finding no relief for the pain from the medical profession, he used to self medicate with heroin.
Nirvana Refused To Work With Guns ‘n’ Roses
Axl Rose personally requested Nirvana as a support band on their 1992 tour after the success of “Nevermind” but Kurt refused, saying that Guns ‘n’ Roses were “really talentless people”, and that “they write crap music”.
A Genuine Rape Inspired The Song “Polly”
Kurt read about the rape of a 14 year old girl which led him to write the song “Polly” from the young girl’s perspective. He chose the name “Polly” because it sounded like an innocent bird. On hearing the song, Bob Dylan was quoted as saying about Kurt, “That kid has a heart”.
After The Release Of “Nevermind” Kurt Lived In His Car
After recording the album “Nevermind”, Kurt returned home to find that he’d been evicted. Until he found somewhere else to live, he was forced to live in his 1963 Plymouth Valiant car.
In Aberdeen, Washington There Is A Nirvana Tribute Sign
In the town where Nirvana were formed, Aberdeen, Washington, there is a Nirvana tribute sign that says “Welcome to Aberdeen-Come As You Are” which was paid for by the Kurt Cobain Memorial Committee, a non-profit organisation.
Dave Grohl Was Nirvana’s 6th Drummer
Before Dave Grohl became Nirvana’s drummer they had a succession of drummers including Bob McFadden, Aaron Burckhard, Dale Crover, Dave Foster and Chad Channing.
Nirvana Was The Band’s 5th Choice Of Name
The band started out as “Skid Row” before changing to; “Pen Cap Chew”, “Bliss”, “Ted Ed Fred” and eventually “Nirvana”. Kurt said that he “wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk rock name like the Angry Samoans”.
There Is A Song About Kurt Cobain
The Foo Fighters track “My Hero” is about Dave Grohl’s former Nirvana band mate, Kurt Cobain.
“Nevermind” Was On The Charts For 252 Weeks
Their 2nd album “Nevermind” knocked Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” from the number one spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart and remained on the chart for a total of 252 weeks.
Kurt Cobain Was A Fan Of Blur
When he was asked in 1991 what his favourite UK song at the time was, Kurt started singing “There’s No Other Way” by Britpop band Blur.
Frequently Asked Questions
The “Teen Spirit” referred to in the Nirvana song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is the deodorant that Kurt Cobain’s then girlfriend used to wear.
After Kurt Cobain dropped out of high school, he worked as a janitor at his old high school.
Kurt Cobain’s pet cat was called Melvin. He also had a pet rat called Kitty and several turtles.
After seeing himself on TV for the first time, Kurt Cobain called his mum on the telephone from his hotel room.
The band members from Nirvana got thrown out of their own record release party for their album “Nevermind” for starting a food fight.
After knocking Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” from the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart, “Nevermind” spent a total of 252 weeks on the chart.
The Britpop band who’s song Kurt Cobain started singing after being asked what his favourite UK song of the time was. Was Blur.
The original name for the album “Bleach” was “Too Many Humans”.
Nirvana’s second album “Nevermind” was originally going to be called “Sheep”.
After the release of “Nevermind”, Kurt Cobain demanded 75% of the royalties because he said he had written most of the tracks.
The ex-Beatle who Kurt Cobain was a huge fan of was John Lennon.
Kurt described the sound of the finished album “Nevermind” as “Candy-ass” because it was too “finished” and not as grungy as he would have liked it to have been.
Before Dave Grohl became Nirvana’s drummer in 1990, the band had 5 drummers.
The lines “He’s the one Who likes all our pretty songs And he likes to sing along” are from the Nirvana track “In Bloom”.
The song that MTV wouldn’t allow Nirvana to play at the 1992 VMAs was “Rape Me”.
The song “Smells Like Nirvana” was written by Weird Al Yankovic.
Kurt Cobain refused to support Guns ‘n’ Roses because he thought they were “really talentless people”.
Nirvana’s first single was called “Love Buzz” which was a cover of the 1969 song by the Dutch group Shocking Blue.
The original title of the single “Heart-shaped Box” was, “Heart Shaped Coffin”
The single that Kurt gave to his local radio station and then phoned in to request was “Love Buzz”. Which was Nirvana’s first single and a cover of the 1969 song by the Dutch band “Shocking Blue”.
The song “Polly” was inspired by a report Kurt had read about a rape case of a 14 year old girl.
We’d Love To Hear From You
That’s our impressive facts about Nirvana. Do you know any we haven’t mentioned? We’d love to hear them, let us know in the comments.