Tonight along with Kiss, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens and several other performers, Nirvana will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This honor comes on the heels of the 20th anniversary of their 3rd full length album, In Utero, and Kurt Cobain’s untimely death. As the leader of the heavily influential grunge band, Cobain transformed the landscape of rock and roll with messy, growling chords as the backdrop to crystalline melodies, all smashed into a quiet, loud, quiet format.
When Nirvana became popular during the Nevermind years, other bands quickly adopted their sound and style. Some bands managed to add enough of their own personality to make original music. Others just aped the manic patterns created by Nirvana and added little if anything to the genre. Regardless of a bands ability to imitate Nirvana’s sound, very few bands, could mimic the sentiment truthfully. The shy, anti-corporate, loner rock anthems that Nirvana created weren’t new to music, but they were new to the mainstream. And try as they might, other bands just couldn’t pull off the same amount of disdain for the music industry and separare themselves from the spotlight as casually as Nirvana. Especially while touring large stadiums and drinking in MTV fame.
Imitating Nirvana’s sound was easy, given the fact that Cobain played mostly standard bar chords and used common effects pedals. Unlike the boutique pedal manufacturers of today, Kurt was using classic standbys like the Boss DS-1 Distortion, Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, ProCo Rat, and the Electro-Harmonix Small Clone Chorus to name a few of his favorites. Put all this together with a dose of standard chord progressions and you have the ingrediants of a classic Nirvana song. But, of course, what you don’t have is Kurt Cobain’s personality.
The induction of Nirvana into the hall of fame tonight makes perfect sense for a band that made extraordinary music out of ordinary materials. Their music was crafted from raw personality and it shows up on every one of the songs on their 3 albums.
Here’s a 2 part video of drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Kris Novoselic on Jimmy Fallon reminiscing about their time in Nirvana and the upcoming induction.