25th Anniversary of Nevermind: 20 Things to Know

This fall the music world celebrates the 25th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind, one of the most popular and influential album of all time. On Sept. 24, 1991 the music legend Kurt Cobain, with bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl released the group’s second album that has changed music industry as we know it. Within weeks the album became a worldwide bestseller and people learned the name of the small, unknown group from the working-class town of Aberdeen, Washington.

Nevermind combines the angst, anger, and rebellion of the boisterous ’90s. The album’s leading song “Smells like a Teen’s Spirit” implanted itself into all listener’s memory with its memorable guitar riff. Together with other iconic songs such as “Lithium” and “Come as you are,” the world learned the term “grunge” and the flannel t-shirts with Nirvana’s smiley logo became a symbol of a generation.

With their resonant music and deep lyrics Nirvana managed to capture the strong feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness and accurately represent the voice of every teenager of the generation. This is one of the reasons why Nirvana remains one of the most influential bands in history.  Three years after the release of Nevermind, 1994, the world was shocked once again. This time by the news that the frontman of the band, Kurt Cobain, had committed a suicide at the age of 27.

Whether you are a veteran Nirvana fan or just a dabbler, scroll down to find 20 interesting facts about one of the greatest album in the music world.

Nevermind is not the original title of the album

Nevermind is, actually, not even a word. Although it is grammatically incorrect, this was Cobain’s manifesto on conformity. Initially, the band had an idea of naming the album “Sheep,” referencing the people, who would buy it.

Nevermind was the first album  Nirvana recorded with drummer, Dave Grohl   

Dave Grohl joined the band in 1990. When he came to Seattle at the age of 21.  Grohl’s had experience playing for big rock bands such as the Scream. It was in San Francisco, on one of the Screa’s concerts, where Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl first met.  Cobain and Novoselic were blown away by the energy that Grohl had onstage, so they invited him to the group.

Grohl was Nirvana’s 5th drummer

Grohl became the member of Nirvana while recording Nevermind. Up until then the group had tried to work with four other drummers including Mudhoney’s Dan Peters and the Melvins’ Dale Crover.

The Pixies inspired Cobain to try something new

When working on Nevermind Cobain got inspiration from such famous singers and bands as John Lennon, Killdozer, Black Flag. But Cobain was most fascinated by the loud/quiet song dynamic of the Pixies which is evident throughout the album.

The band had nearly split during the recording of the album

Chad Channing, the drummer behind Nirvana’s first album Bleach 1989, caused most of the controversy within the group. Arguments about the drumming style almost caused the group to separate and recording of Nevermind was shut down for a while.

There were two parts to recording Nevermind

Before the disagreements between Kurt and Chad, the band had already been recording demos for Nevermind. After Chad left, the group paused the recordings until they reunited in 1991 with new drummer Dan Peters, who was in the band long enough to record one song “ Silver” before making Grohl their new drummer.

Cobain double-tracked his vocals because “John Lennon did it.”

Kurt Cobain didn’t like his songs being recorded multiple times. The group didn’t spend more than three takes on each song, and after they would move on to record something else. However, the bands’ producer knew that some songs were too good to be left raw. The only way he could make Cobain make double-tracks was when he argued that “John Lennon did it” and it worked.

Cobain mostly concentrated on melodies

When working on the album Cobain said: “Music comes first and lyrics come second.” So the band spent most of their time working on the sound and melodies. That is why some lyrics of the songs were written in the last minute prior to the release of the album. However, the lyrics turned out to just as good as the melody.

Some songs were about Cobain’s dysfunctional relationships with his girlfriend

Tobi Vail, who broke up with Cobain months before the recording of Nevermind, had a significant influence on the Cobain’s music. Allegedly, many songs from Nevermind Cobain conveying anger, frustration and angst were written about his ex-girlfriend.

Hidden track “Endless, Nameless” was accidentally left off initial pressings of the album.

“Endless, Nameless” was born from a frustrating recording session of “Lithium” where Cobain struggled to get his guitar parts correct. Vig, the producer, wanted to add it at the end of the album, however, the engineer, who was working on the album, Howie Weinberg, didn’t add it at first and the track was added later.

Cobain was accused of plagiarism for the song “Come As You Are”

Cobain was aware that his song “Come As You Are” is quite similar to Killing Joke’s song “Eighties” but the band didn’t want to get rid of it anyway.  After the release, Killing Joke indeed accused Cobain of plagiarism but it this claim didn’t get any further than just a simple complaint.

Nirvana stopped performing “Smells like teen spirit” because its popularity

Shortly after “Smells like Teen Spirit” became a world-wide hit Cobain got uncomfortable with its popularity. The band stopped performing it and refused to include it in their live gigs. They didn’t even make an exception made for their appearance on MTV Unplugged.

Originally the “Lithium” music video was supposed to be a cartoon

Initially, Kurt Cobain and the director, Kevin Kerslake, wanted to make a cartoon. It was supposed to be an animated story about a girl named Prego, who discovered some eggs that hatch. However, it never worked out as neither Cobain nor Kerslake knew that it would take so long to create it. So in the end, Kerslake, made a video that consists of live concert footage of Nirvana.

Nevermind cost Nirvana twice the expected budget

Nevermind turned out to be a pretty costly production. The original budget was $65,000. It was initially recorded in six days with overdubs and mixing at a rate of one song per day. In the end it took about a month to finish all the work and the final price amounted to $130,000. In comparison the usual price of an album is $30,000 to $60.000.

The idea for the album cover came from the Cobain’s fascination with water births.

The album cover with the toddler in the pool reaching up for the dollar bill has become legendary and one of the most recognizable images in the music industry. The idea came when Cobain and Gohl were watching a documentary about water birth.

There is a photo of Kiss hidden on the back cover of the album.

When looking  at the photo of the monkey in hell on the back cover of the album, one can spot on the right above the head of an animal the picture of Kiss’s Destroyer album cover.

The band almost split once again after the release of Nevermind

Six months after the album dropped, Cobain suddenly demanded a much larger share than was initially established — to take effect retroactively. Novoselic and Grohl almost quit the band in the protest.

Nirvana was kicked out of their own Nevermind release party

In Seattle’s Rebar, during the Nevermind release party, Kurt and his comrades were already tips they arrived. Ironically, they got kicked out from their own party after they got too loud and started to thrown food around the party.

Nevermind was certified Diamond and moved Michal Jacksons’ “dangerous” out of the #1 Billboard spot.

Nevermind sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and became the bestseller of the music industry. Moreover, the fact that the album outrun “Dangerous” by Michael Jackson was universally agreed as a turning point in pop culture.

Kurt Cobain had to live in a car shortly after Nevermind was produced

After recording Nevermind fame didn’t come straight away and the band didn’t make any money. In fact, when Cobain came home after finishing the work on the new sum he found out that he was evicted for not paying the rent and had to live in his car.

Cover photo: Nirvana

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