by guest blogger Rory Blinks, rock scientist
Who? You're probably familiar with Nirvana's big 1991 hit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", but don't worry if the band's name doesn't jump out at you - Nirvana were never ones to plaster their name all over posters and t-shirts.
Huh? Nirvana emerged from Seattle, Washington at the turn of the decade, and were quickly snapped up by David Geffen's Rich Homo Records. Their major label debut, Nevermind, was a minor critical success. Rolling Stone called it "not as good as a Bob Dylan reissue, but still ok, I guess" while Uncut included it in their Top 100 Albums Still Worth Listening To Despite Not Being In Any Way Associated With Cream or Zeppelin. Unfortunately, this praise failed to translate into sales, and Nevermind slunk around the lower reaches of the album charts for a few weeks before disappearing.
Wha? The single "Smells Like Teen Spirit", however, topped the charts for three days running, briefly catapulting the band to stardom. In the following month, Nirvana headlined several high-profile gigs in the UK and US, including the East Wench Rotary Club's annual garden party, and the popular Salt Lake City Mormon Rock Eisteddfod Shake Down.
Ger? Unfortunately, fame is a fickle mistress, and Nirvana's descent into obscurity was swift. Singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain's marriage to the crack-addicted heavy metal singer Juliana Hatfield caused a minor stir in the tabloids, but declining record sales told the real story. In 1993, Rich Homo dropped the band, precipitating a suicide attempt by drummer Dave Grohl, who attempted to suffocate himself with his own feed bag. It was one of rock's darkest hours.
Zah? 1993 saw the band release their final studio album, In Cenatus, which snuck briefly into the top 500, but was quickly displaced by Michael Bolton's War of the Worlds concept album. Bassist Krist Novoselic, arguably Nirvana's creative core, left the band in February. Thus depleted, Nirvana's fate was sealed, and in April the band split, citing lack of interest.
Kok? Since 1994, the former members of Nirvana have kept a low profile. Dave Grohl was jailed in 1996 for trampling three people at an ATM in Los Angeles. Krist Novoselic lives in the Washington backwoods, where he composes poetry and bomb threats. Kurt Cobain's marriage ended in 2001, since when he has written a number of film soundtracks. His latest score can be heard on the forthcoming Disney blockbuster, Invisible Land Whales.