How many albums has Nirvana sold


Nirvana was an American grunge band from Aberdeen, Washington state. The band was formed in 1987 and peaked with the song in late 1991 smells like Teen Spirit and the album Nevermind great popularity.

Seven years after the formation, the band broke up in the spring of 1994 in connection with the death of the singer and songwriter Kurt Cobain. The band sold around 75 million records.


Beginnings (1987-1989)

Nirvana was founded in 1987 by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselić.

The two met in 1984 at school and especially around the band The Melvins. In the winter of 1985 Cobain founded the band Fecal Matter together with the later The Melvins drummer Dale Crover as bassist. After the group had recorded two demos at Cobain's Tante Mari and played a few concerts, including as the opening act for The Melvins, they broke up. The Fecal Matter demo of December 1985 convinced Novoselić to start a band with Cobain. In the same month the two, Cobain as singer and Novoselić on bass, founded the Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band together with drummer Steve Newman The sellouts. In the same month Cobain and Novoselić had another band with drummer Bob McFadden, but both bands broke up that same winter.

In March 1986 Krist Novoselić moved to Phoenix, Arizona with his girlfriend Shelli. After Novoselić moved back to Aberdeen in the fall of 1986, he and Cobain immediately began looking for a new drummer.

In January 1987 they finally founded a band with Aaron Burckhard, which goes by the name Ted Ed Fred and The Stiff Woodies played. The first differences quickly emerged - while Burckhard mainly listened to metal, Novoselić and Cobain were inspired by Gang of Four, Scratch Acid and Butthole Surfers. In addition, Burckhard showed significantly less commitment than the two of them. Kurt Cobain, whose zeal for work also initially overwhelmed Novoselić, said later:

"I wanted to put out a record or do a few gigs and keep the project from going down the drain like everyone else in the past six years."

- Kurt Cobain, quoted from Come as you are

In March the band finally performed their first concert at a private party in Raymond. Played at that time Ted Ed Fred already mostly own songs. In the same month the band also gave their first public concert in the GESCCO Hall in Olympia in front of around ten spectators. On April 17, 1987 there was an appearance for the campus transmitter Kaos FM of Evergreen State College.

In the fall of 1987 Cobain moved to Olympia, Burckhard remained the only band member in Aberdeen. Burckhard's lack of engagement and the physical distance meant that the band was inactive until Cobain and Novoselić began rehearsing in December 1987 with Dale Crover as the new drummer.

On January 23, 1988, the band recorded a first ten track demo with producer Jack Endino. The session at the popular Reciprocal Recordings recording studio in Seattle cost the band $ 152.44, which Cobain paid. In the spring, Cobain had initial talks with Jonathan Poneman of the Seattle underground label Sub Pop, in which the release of a single was planned. As a replacement for Crover, who moved to San Francisco, Dave Foster joined the band as a drummer.

On March 19, 1988, the band played under the name for the first time Nirvana. Before that, the group called itself among other things Ted Ed Fred, Bliss, Throat oyster, Pen Cap Chew and Windowpane. When it came to choosing the name, Kurt Cobain later said: “I wanted a name that was somehow nice, nice and pretty, not such a disgusting punk rock name like Angry Samoans”, but at the same time he was not very happy with hindsight: “It's closed esoteric and serious. ”On May 29, Foster was replaced by Chad Channing because he rarely came to rehearsals. Meanwhile, the demo from January 1988 had convinced the Sub Pop label, in November 1988 the single Love buzz / big cheese to be published in an edition of 1000 pieces. The title track is a cover of the Dutch pop band Shocking Blue, which Kurt Cobain was persuaded to do by Krist Novoselić.

After the release of Love buzz / big cheese Sub Pop had to struggle with some financial problems at the end of 1988, so that Nirvana could not hope for an album release for the time being. Nevertheless, the band went back to the studio in December 1988 and January 1989 with Endino. The 30 hours on a total of three days should cost the band 606.17 dollars. The amount paid by Jason Everman, a friend and fan of the band, who became second guitarist a short time later in the early summer of 1989 because Kurt had not had enough practice singing, playing guitar and memorizing the lyrics at the same time.

Before that, however, Nirvana embarked on a first two-week tour of the west coast in February 1989. Since Nirvana were still almost unknown at that time, they often only played in front of ten visitors, who also appeared more because of the label. In total, the band had over 100 gigs in 1989.

On August 8, 1989, the debut album was finally released Bleach. In advance, the band led their first US tour through small clubs and bars, which ended a little earlier than planned in New York on July 18 with Everman being kicked out of the band. In August, Nirvana recorded five tracks with Steve Fisk at Music Source Studio that were to appear on an EP. In September, the canceled performances of the July tour were made up for, where up to 200 fans attended the concerts and the band earned money for the first time.

On October 23, 1989, a 42-day European tour with the sub-pop band Tad began in Newcastle upon Tyne in England, where the first concert in Germany was held on November 7th at Nirvana B-52 in Mönchengladbach. Since there were nine of the two bands with equipment in the ten-seat Fiat minibus provided by Sub Pop had to drive through almost every night to the next gig, the atmosphere during the tour was very tense. The fact that the small halls and clubs were mostly sold out and the audience was enthusiastic could not change that, so that Nirvana continued to distance themselves from Sub Pop after the tour.

Nevermind (1990-1992)

In early 1990 Sub Pop was again on the verge of financial collapse and the release of a second album seemed unlikely. The band continued to play concerts in the United States until April 2, 1990, when recording with Butch Vig at Smart Studios began. The seven tracks recorded over the course of a week were sent to Sub Pop, but actually represented the demo for negotiations with major labels.

In September 1990, the band's only release with Mudhoney's Dan Peters on drums was released: The Single Sliver. Chad Channing was kicked out of the band during the first demo recordings for the second record. In Kurt Cobain's diaries, he described the drumming of Channings as "bungling". For a short tour they borrowed Dale Crover from The Melvins again, until then in August Dave Grohl from Scream was hired as a new permanent drummer. With the demo tape, the band started negotiations with the Geffen Records sub-label DGC on.

On April 30, 1991, the band signed their recording deal and received an advance of $ 287,000. Sub Pop received $ 75,000 to include Geffen in the contract and give them the necessary rights. The idea of ​​producing the album with Scott Litt and Don Dixon was discarded, they stayed with Butch Vig. In August 1991 Nirvana played on The Year That Punk Broke Tour of Europe with Sonic Youth and Ramones and at the Reading Festival in Reading, England.

On September 10, 1991, the title smells like Teen Spirit released as a single. The accompanying album Nevermind was released on September 24, 1991 and entered the US charts three weeks later, on October 12. With a production of 50,000 copies, Geffen's pre-sales expectations quickly turned out to be a miscalculation and had to be re-pressed. Just a few weeks later, the RIAA awarded the platinum record for one million copies sold Nevermind.

The band played another European tour from November 4th to December 7th, which also took them to Germany for 4 concerts from November 10th. On December 6th, the band performed at the UK popular Tonight-With-Jonathan-Ross-Show of the television station Channel 4. Just one day later, on December 7th, rose smells like Teen Spirit at number 7 on the UK Singles Chart. In the show Rapido BBC Two (TV) reported extensively on Nirvana. During the rest of the tour, the band had to contract a virus infection from Cobain, which he found himself after Transmusicales Festival in Rennes, France. The year ended on December 31, 1991 with a New Year's concert in the Cow Palace from San Francisco, California.

On January 11, 1992 Nevermind to the top of the US album charts, displacing Michael Jackson's album Dangerous. smells like Teen Spirit had already risen to number 6 in the US singles charts and went platinum on April 1, 1992. Nirvana was on NBCs soon after Saturday Night Live to guest.

For the tour in Australia (January), Japan and New Zealand (February) the EP was also there Hormoaning released. During the tour rose Nevermind also in the UK charts at number 7 (February 1, 1992), while the album had already sold three million times in the USA. Also the re-released debut album Bleach (1989) entered the US charts for the first time on February 22, 1992 at number 89. Debuted on March 7, 1992 Bleach also in the UK charts at number 33.

The single was released on March 2, 1992 Come as you are in the UK, while in the US it was only released on May 2, 1992. Because the guitar riff of the song from the Killing Joke single Eighties (1985) was stolen, the band filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against Nirvana.

The song became the third single on July 13, 1992 lithium decoupled. While with In Bloom the fourth and final single from the album Nevermind appeared, the band started in October with Jack Endino, the producer of the album Bleach, first work on a new album.

After these lightning-fast successes, the music industry also honored the band's artistic performance. For smells like Teen Spirit Nirvana were honored at the 9th MTV Video Music Awards on September 9, 1992 in Los Angeles for "Best Alternative Music Video" and "Best New Artist Video". On the award for “Best Alternative Music Video”, however, “Smells Like Team Spirit” was engraved instead of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Played nirvana lithium live and then destroyed their equipment. Krist Novoselić got the bass on his head when it fell unhappily on him while being thrown under the ceiling lights. When he left the stage, Cobain spat at a piano, which he took to be Axl Rose's, which, however, turned out to be Elton John's piano, to which the music world reacted in horror.

In Utero (1993)

On December 14, 1992 appeared with Incesticide a compilation of B-sides and unpublished material, put together without further ado, in order to be able to satisfy the rapidly increasing demand for a follow-up album. The plate contained, inter alia. also a cover version of the song Turnaround. A video of the album becomes the long out of print single Sliver published by 1990. The video showed the band in a totally neglected apartment with greasy hair, a cheap production that was completed in two takes. Released on March 6th Oh, the Guilt as a split single with The Jesus Lizards Puss in Great Britain and reached number 12 there. The split single was later released in a limited edition of 100,000 copies on the Touch and Go Records label in the USA.

At the Brit Awards in Alexandra Palace in London on February 16, the band was called Best International Act honored. For Pro Choice played Nirvana with Pearl Jam at a rally organized by the Organization for Women's Right to Abortion.

In February 1993 the band drove together with producer Steve Albini to record the new album (the working title at the time I Hate Myself and I Want to Die) in Minnesota. The result drew the displeasure of the record company DGC, who called the recordings "shit". Albini later told the daily newspaper Village Voicethat the label and management didn't want Albini to produce the band; however, the band prevailed. In the period that followed, Nirvana made headlines solely through numerous drug-related arrests, prison sentences, and rehabilitation attempts by Kurt Cobain, who was addicted to heroin. Was at the 10th MTV Video Music Awards in Universal City, California In Bloom (1992, Nevermind) to the Best alternative video chosen. In it the band, which in the end broke their instruments, showed itself in suits and good expressions.

After the single on August 30, 1993 Heart-Shaped Box The third album followed on September 13th In Utero and debuted in the UK charts at number 1. The band was again a guest on NBC Saturday Night Live, before In Utero appeared in the US and also immediately topped the charts. In the fall, the band went on a world tour with Pat Smear, who had previously played with The Germs, on the second guitar.

On November 18, the band played an acoustic instrument concert for the MTV Unplugged series at Sony Music Studios in New York City. On the Beavis-and-butt-head experience-Compilation the song was released on November 23rd I Hate Myself and I Want to Die, on December 6th the publication of the double A-side All Apologies / Rape Me in Great Britain followed. Shortly before the end of the year, on December 13th, the band played a sold out concert with The Breeders and Cypress Hill on MTV ("Live and Loud") Pier 48 from Seattle (Washington).

Dissolution (1994)

On January 8, 1994, Nirvana played in the Center arena from Seattle their last concert in the United States. At the end of January, Rolling Stone was a winner in the Music Awards Critics Picks the band as Best band and the album In Utero as Best album out. On February 6th, Nirvana started their European tour in Cascais. The end of this tour was originally planned for April 8th in Dublin, but the band played their last concert on March 1st in Terminal 1 of the former Munich-Riem airport. The Munich concert was broadcast in excerpts on the TV channel VIVA.

After a hospital stay, Kurt Cobain fled on April 1st Exodus Recovery Center in Marina del Rey, Los Angeles and broke off his last attempt at drug withdrawal. A week later, on April 8th, Kurt Cobain was found dead. The band's musical legacy has since been managed by a community of his widow Courtney Love and band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselić.

On September 8th at the 11th MTV Video Music Awards in the New Yorker Radio City Music Hall became nirvana with the prizes Best alternative video and Best Art Direction for the video too Heart-Shaped Box (1993, In Utero) excellent. The live record announced for November at the beginning of August Verses Chorus Verses did not appear. Instead, Geffen released the acoustic album MTV Unplugged in New York, which was released on October 31, 1994, and topped the charts. It was sold over 3 million times in two months.

Further awards and records (1995–2009)

Despite the band's sudden end, they continued to receive awards. They won the category at the 22nd American Music Awards in 1995 Favorite Artist / Heavy Metal - Hard Rock. On February 28, 1996, was at the ceremony of the 38th Grammy Awards MTV Unplugged in New York as Best Alternative Music Album excellent.

Interest in her music also continued. The unplugged version of the song All apologies (1993, In Utero) was most played on college radios in 1995 and received the BMI Award Pop in Los Angeles. The two albums Bleach (1989) and Incesticide (1992) achieved platinum status for every million sales in 1995. By October 1995 - in the USA alone - In Utero (1993) 9 million times, by autumn 1997 MTV Unplugged in New York 5 million times. The hundred thousandth copy of the video released in 1994 Live! Tonight! Sold Out! was already sold in January 1995.

As a result, there were more publications. The live compilation released in October 1996 From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah contained excerpts from concerts between 1988 and 1994 and reached number one on the US charts.

In October 2002 a greatest hits collection followed with the new song You know you're right and in November 2004 the box consisting of three CDs and a DVD With the lights outwhich contains many of the band's unreleased songs between 1987 and 1994.

Dave Grohl, Pat Smear and Krist Novoselić initially stayed in the music business. Dave Grohl founded the Foo Fighters with Pat Smear in March 1995. While Dave Grohl played there permanently, Pat Smear is back after a long break and also works as a music producer. Krist Novoselić first founded the band Sweet 75 and in 2001 together with Curt Kirkwood and Bud Gaugh the now disbanded Eyes Adrift. In 2003 he announced his retirement from the music business and in the meantime dealt with local politics in Seattle. In December 2006 Novoselić supported the band Flipper on a tour and returned to music. He recorded an album with Flipper, but separated from the band again in late September 2008.


For the first time in over 18 years, in June 2011 the chords of smells like Teen Spirit from the remaining band members. Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselić and Pat Smear played the song without a vocals when they were practicing together in California for a performance by the Foo Fighters. When asked how it felt, Dave Grohl replied: “It was like ... a ghost. It was heavy. "

On December 12, 2012, the remaining band members of Nirvana played live together on a stage for the first time - in New York's Madison Square Garden with the support of Paul McCartney. The occasion was 121212, a benefit concert for the victims of the Hurricane Sandy disaster. They played the song Cut Me Some Slack, which also appeared on the soundtrack by Dave Grohls, released in spring 2013 Sound City Movie can be heard.

On April 10, 2014, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The laudation was given by Michael Stipe from R.E.M. Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear also performed. Guest singers were Joan Jett, Lorde, Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) and St. Vincent.




In terms of content, Cobain left most of his songs open, leaving room for interpretation. In the career of Nirvana, however, there were a number of topics that Cobain processed in his texts. Many texts of Nirvana are quite short, often individual parts are often repeated. On Bleach many texts have only one stanza that is repeated several times. Kurt Cobain initially wrote many texts spontaneously in the studio or on the way to the studio, later he also spontaneously put them together from existing poems of his own. About the lyrics too Bleach Cobain said later: “Texts weren't important to me back then. [...] Not a single song - by whoever - was important to me at the time because of its lyrics. "


Characteristic of the music of Nirvana, as is generally the case in grunge, is the combination of punk with elements of metal and hard rock. In addition to The Melvins, the early influences included new wave bands such as Gang of Four, Scratch Acid and Butthole Surfers.

At the end of 1988, the band members, along with the entire alternative rock scene in Seattle, began to be interested in the great glam rock bands of the 1970s. Already on Bleach is next to these typical grunge influences in the piece About a girl the interest in pop music like The Beatles clearly. Cobain later expressed his disappointment that he was stylistically limited by the influence of the label and could neither pursue the influence of experimental New Wave nor the interest in catchy pop melodies. He summed up the expectations of Nirvana to Michael Azerrad with the words "Reduce it to the essentials and make sure that it sounds like Aerosmith". However, Azerrad considers these limitations to be significant for the band's style, as they “[accepted] that their development to musical maturity had a lot to do with Aerosmith and Black Sabbath.” (Michael Azerrad in Come as you are) The album also achieved special significance for the stylistic development Surfer pink from the pixies. For him, this album represented the mixture of pop and alternative punk that corresponded to his own sound ideal. He later said, “I stopped Surfer pink Songs that I wrote but discarded for fear of playing them to someone. ”According to Azerrad, the Pixies' success has encouraged Cobain to pursue this ideal.

Another special feature of Nirvana is Kurt Cobain's voice. Both the producer Jack Endino and the sub-pop boss Jonathan Poneman were already enthusiastic about Cobain's vocals after the first demo in January 1988, which they described as "fascinating" and "powerful".


The band not only moved musically between punk and rock, their attitude towards the music industry in particular was characterized by a certain ambivalence. Cobain had the clear goal of becoming a rock star, especially at the beginning and before his career. Still, he often took the opportunity to express his disdain for the music industry and its audiences. Cobain expressed this ambivalence in 1989 with the following ironic words:

“Nirvana notice a standstill in the underground scene and sell-out tendencies to the big pig capitalist major labels. But do we therefore feel a moral duty to fight this cancerous tumor? NOT AT ALL! We want to cash in just like the bigwigs. "

- Cobain in a 1989 band biography for Sub Pop

Nirvana often tried to break the prevailing conventions in the music business and pose as an antihero. At the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, Kurt Cobain spat on Elton John's piano as he walked off the stage, thinking it should be played by Axl Rose of Guns N ’Roses, with whom he had previously quarreled. In the chart show Top of the Pops on November 27, 1991 in the BBC studios, London, the band interpreted her smells like Teen Spirit despite half playback to a lengthy version. The drummer and bassist obviously deliberately did not play in sync with the music of their hit played in the studio, Cobain almost never touched his guitar, rather he clutched his microphone or spread his arms. The trio smashed their equipment at numerous public appearances, including at MTV Video Music Awards or Saturday Night Live. During TV appearances, the three often did not play the songs agreed with the director, which meant that the song titles displayed on the screen did not match the songs being played.

The appearance of Nirvana was staged more and more with each repetition of certain show elements (such as the destruction) and made the band appear staged itself. The conflict triggered by this effect can be cited as a reason for Cobain's decision to commit suicide, which he previously wrote in his suicide note as follows:

“For example, when we're backstage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowd begins, it doesn't affect me in the way that Freddie Mercury seemed to have touched it. He seemed to love and enjoy the mania and adoration of the fans. That's something I totally admire and envy. "

- Kurt Cobain, April 1994, from his suicide note

The only striking difference to the bands mentioned is the inner attitude towards music and entertainment as well as a different basic understanding with which the structures of the culture industry were encountered. The appearance of Nirvana itself, on the other hand, led to the common multiple and thus immensely increased Cobain's dissatisfaction, which he expressed in the farewell letter.


In addition to commercial success, the band had a major impact on the music scene and industry and is sometimes seen as the mouthpiece of a generation.

The band has sold over 75 million albums. Nirvana made indie rock mainstream and heralded the brief heyday of grunge. Tommy Udo attested Nirvana in 2002 in its nu-metal history Hard chunks "A combination of enormous record sales, critical praise and widespread recognition from mainstream audiences", with which Nirvana managed to [breathe new life] into "rock’ n ’roll [...] when it was generally considered run down." Accordingly, Kurt Cobain's death marked the end of grunge and a turning point for rock in general, as nu metal took the place of grunge with Korn's debut album. Tommy Udo goes on to claim that nirvana re-established the United States as the center of rock music.

The rock-hard editors call Nirvana “[the] most important rock band of the 90s” and speak of a “musical legacy that no band has been able to enter before.” The All Music Guide writes:

"Nirvana popularized punk, post-punk, and indie rock, unintentionally bringing it into the American mainstream like no other band before it."

"Nirvana popularized punk, post-punk and indie rock by inadvertently bringing it into the American mainstream like no other band before."

- Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato for the All Music Guide

Michael Azerrad even speaks of “a new era”, the one with the number one placement of Nevermind began in the Billboard Charts for the music industry: "From now on everything was either pre- or post-nirvana." (Michael Azerrad in Come as you are) He further claims that after Nirvana the big music labels concentrated on bands with “longer-term potential” and their own fan base and tried less to stimulate sales through advertising.

The Rolling Stone listed Nirvana as 30th of the 100 greatest musicians of all time.