Photo: Charles J. Peterson/Getty Images
Nirvana's Era-Defining 'Nevermind': For The Record
Two years after releasing their first album, Bleach, and just three years before lead singer Kurt Cobain's untimely death, Nirvana, made up of Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, crashed into the mainstream with their stellar sophomore album, Nevermind.
Produced by GRAMMY winner Butch Vig, Nevermind was released on Sept. 24, 1991 and gave Nirvana their first hit single, the GRAMMY-nominated "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Nevermind took Nirvana from local heroes in Seattle to rockers in the nation's public eye, bringing the grunge sound and other bands along with them.
The album sold out of its initial shipment of 50,000 CDs due to the popularity of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and within a year had been certified triple platinum. On Jan 11, 1992, Nevermind reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, taking the place of Michael Jackson's Dangerous and spending a total of 253 weeks on the chart.
"It changed my life," recalled Vig. "It changed everyone's life affiliated with it. Those don't come by very often [and] when they do it's a magic moment."
The album's 12 tracks, which also include classics "Come As You Are," "Lithium" and "In Bloom," are propelled by Cobain's moody drawl and the collectively raw, energetic sound of his guitar, Grohl's drums and Novoselic's bass.
"When I listen to [Nevermind] I hear a sense of purity and honesty that I haven't heard in a long time," recalled Grohl, who would continue to make music as the front man of the Foo Fighters.
Nevermind was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 34rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal and Best Rock Song the following year at the 35th Annual GRAMMY Awards. The album was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 2018, and the single the year prior, honoring their "lasting qualitative or historical significance."
Sadly, Nirvana would only release two more albums, GRAMMY-nominated In Utero and GRAMMY-winning MTV Unplugged In New York, before Cobain's tragic suicide on April 5, 1994, but the music they made together would have a lasting impact for years to come.