Nirvana Inducted Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

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Nirvana, one of the most influential and important rock bands of the modern era were formed in 1987 by singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain with bassist Krist Novoselic. the band went through a number of drummers but the most well known is of course Dave Grohl who joined the band in 1990. The band established itself as part of the grunge scene and became well known for quiet melodic verses and loud heavy choruses. Hits like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, ‘Come As You Are’, ‘Lithium’ and ‘In Bloom’ became forever etched into the memories of music lovers all the world over. Kurt Cobain believed that other bands on the grunge scene had adopted a heavy rock style that he could not relate to and so his vision of a softer sound with memorable melodies became the sound of Nirvana. It is said that the sound of Nirvana is inspired by Bay City Rollers with the attitude of Black Sabbath as well as a few other musical influences thrown in.  Nirvana are one of the best selling bands of all time having sold over 75 million records worldwide. In the United States the band is the 80th best selling music artist of all time where they have been awarded one Diamond, three Multi-Platinum, seven Platinum and one Gold certified album. The band has also been very successful in the UK where they were awarded four Multi-Platinum, four Platinum, two Gold and one Silver certified album. Kurt Cobain was the main songwriter for Nirvana and believed that lyric writing was the least important part, often writing the lyrics to songs minutes before recording the album. In the later years of Nirvana, Grohl’s songwriting contributions increased. Cobain overheard Grohl working on a song called ‘Color Pictures of a Marigold’. Cobain was impressed and the song was recorded as b-side on the ‘Heart Shaped Box’ single, simply titled ‘Marigold’. Prior to the band’s 1994 European tour the band scheduled session time to begin writing new material together. Cobain was absent for most of the three day session and so Grohl and Novoselic wrote a number of songs in his absence such as ‘Big Me’ and ‘February Stars’ which many Dave Grohl fans will recognise not as Nirvana songs but as songs used by Grohl’s later band Foo Fighters. Cobain finally arrived and the band recorded a demo of a song which would later be named ‘You Know You’re Right’, It was the last time the band would record a song together.

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On April 8th 1994, Kurt Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle. during forensic analysis It was determined that he had been dead for three days. Cobain was found with a shotgun across his body, had a visible head wound and there was a suicide note discovered nearby. The official ruling was suicide as Cobain’s battle with drug addiction, clinical depression and the suicide note were conclusive proof. It was later discovered during toxilogical texts that at the time of his death, Kurt Cobain was high on heroin. The tests determined that the level of heroin in Cobain’s blood at that time was 1.52 milligrams per litre. Private Investigator Tom Grant is under the belief that Cobain was murdered and stated that there is no way he could have injected himself with such a high dose and still been able to pull the trigger. Grant was given access to Cobain’s suicide note and studied it intently. He believed that it was not in fact a suicide note but a note to Courtney love expressing his intent to leave her and his daughter and to leave Seattle and his music career behind. Grant stated that the few lines at the bottom of the note are the only ones that mention suicide and although those lines have a similar handwriting style to the rest of the note, the handwriting is much larger and erratic. It is claimed that the official report does not distinguish these lines from the rest of the note and simply declares that the note in full was indeed written by Kurt Cobain. Grant claimed that he consulted with handwriting experts who support his theory. Grant is not the only person to believe that Cobain was murdered, infact there is a high amount of people who believe so including Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon who stated she believes so in an interview in 2005. The first to object publicly to the ruling of suicide was public access host Richard Lee. In the television series ‘Kurt Cobain was Murdered’ Lee claimed that there were several discrepancies in the police reports including several changes in relation to the shotgun blast. In March 2014 it was discovered that photographs taken at the crime scene were never developed and so the case was re-evaluated, however no new evidence was found and so the case remained closed. Kurt Cobain was 27 years old when he died and got his name onto a list known as The 27 Club. The list contains many popular musicians who all died at the age of 27. other musicians on this list include Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Richey Edwards of Manic Street Preachers.

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Earlier this month Nirvana were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Artists are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. As Nirvana’s first album ‘Bleach’ was released in 1989 this means that Nirvana have been inducted at the first possible opportunity. Incidently the induction also marked the 20th anniversary of Cobain’s passing which made it all the more emotional. Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic performed at the event with several guest singers which included Joan Jett and Kim Gordon. Grohl and Novoselic were performing as Nirvana for the first time without Cobain and a lot of time has passed since they were last performing these songs. This reunion is not the first time Grohl and Novoselic have teamed up since Nirvana though. Novoselic previously contributed to Foo Fighters 2011 album ‘Wasting Light’. Foo Fighters are of course a very successful band of which Dave Grohl is the founding member, vocalist and lead guitarist. Grohl has not turned his back on drumming though, he has appeared as drummer on tracks for bands including Queens of the Stone Age and Killing Joke. He also found himself back behind the drumkit as part of his short lived rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures. Grohl has never forgotten his time in Nirvana though, on Foo Fighters 2005 album ‘In Your Honor’ there is an acoustic track about Cobain entitled ‘Friend of a Friend’. The induction ceremony was an epic moment for the fans of Nirvana and we found ourselves wondering ”What If?” what if Cobain had not died on that fateful day in 1994? would they have been together now? would Foo Fighters have never been? Courtney Love was also at the event who has not been on speaking terms with Grohl and Novoselic since before Cobain’s death due to legal action. It seemed however though that the surviving members of Nirvana had buried the hatchet with Cobain’s widow. Love embraced both Grohl and Novoselic and referred to them as her brothers before declaring ”I just wish Kurt could have been here tonight he would have really appreciated it.”

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I was fifteen when I discovered Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was already dead and gone and I had only just discovered him. It was such a shame that such a talented musician was gone from the world and that I would never again hear new material from this man. Cobain had a beautiful yet gritty voice that was perfect for the grunge movement. I love to listen to his voice and I love the unusual lyrics. Obvious tracks that showcase his unusual style of lyric writing would be ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, ‘Pennyroyal Tea’ and ‘Lithium’ but what I really love is a track that Nirvana performed for MTV Unplugged. ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?’ the track was later included on a best of Nirvana album which was simply titled ‘Nirvana’.  It is the story of a man who knows that the girl in his life is up to know good and as such Cobain channels the anger in such a way that it is hard to imagine he does not mean every word. This track had me so hooked on Cobain’s vocals that for the most part I honestly forgot about the instrumentation and focused solely on the vocals. It is fueled by passion and anger whilst still being completely beautiful and if I could only listen to one Nirvana song for the rest of my life it would be this one. I am now 29 and I must confess that in recent years I have not listened to Nirvana as much as I should have. Digital music has changed the world and I find that I have become a music hoarder, so much so that I literally have thousands of tracks in my itunes account. I discovered that creating playlists is a good way of easily finding songs that you love but I created another problem by creating playlist after playlist after playlist and so the music is lost again in an almost never ending database. I recently revisited ‘Nirvana’ and listened to alot of their songs in preparation for this article and I felt ashamed that I had let so much time pass since I had last listened to them. I would recommend Nirvana to anyone, I guess we will never really know what happened to Kurt Cobain or what he was really thinking in his final weeks but we will always have a little slice of him in the form of his music.
Words by Gordon Langley
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