20 Things You Didn’t Know About Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’
On Sept. 24, 1991, a little trio from Seattle unleashed an unassuming album titled Nevermind and became one of the biggest bands in the world virtually overnight. Through the meteoric rise of Nirvana and the tragic death of frontman Kurt Cobain, much ink has been spilled over the mystery and mystique that followed the band during and after its existence.
In honor of the groundbreaking album, we remember some of the bizarre and beautiful things about the band and its landmark album with a list of 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Nirvana’s Nevermind. Already know some of these? Oh well, whatever, never mind.
1. The baby boy on the cover of Nevermind was almost a girl.
Nevermind cover photographer Kirk Weddle did two shoots and really liked a photograph he took with a baby girl, but the band’s record label insisted — “we want the d–k.”
2. Nirvana refused to support the Guns N’ Roses/Metallica stadium tour.
3. Classic rockers KISS appear on the back cover of Nevermind.
The rear photo is actually a collage Cobain made up of Dante’s Inferno paintings, Chim Chim the monkey and, if you look very closely and squint the right way, miniature figures of KISS, one of his favorite bands growing up.
4. The announcer in the “In Bloom” video is former People’s Court host Doug Llewelyn.
When “In Bloom” snagged Best Alternative Video honors at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards, Michael Richards, Kramer from Seinfeld, presented the trophy to Nirvana and director Kevin Kerslake, but Doug Llewelyn was nowhere to be seen.
5. Nirvana really knew how to freak out MTV.
When they performed “Lithium” the previous year at the 1992 MTV VMAs, they opened with a few lines from their as-yet-unreleased song “Rape Me,” and MTV censors almost cut to a commercial break.
6. Nirvana were kicked out of their own Nevermind release party.
The bash at the tiny Seattle venue Rebar got messy quickly, as Cobain and his cohorts showed up tipsy, started tossing around a watermelon filled with ranch dressing from the food spread and were eventually shown the door.
7. It was originally titled Sheep.
The title was a Cobain manifesto on conformity. And “nevermind” isn’t even a real word — “never mind,” two separate words, is grammatically correct.
8. That’s Krist Novoselic’s off-key singing at the start of “Territorial Pissings.”
The bassist is mangling the chorus of the popular ’60s hippie-folk anthem “Get Together,” which was written by singer-songwriter Chet Powers and performed by Joni Mitchell, Jefferson Airplane, the Kingston Trio and the Youngbloods, who took it to No. 5 on the singles chart.
9. Cobain married Courtney Love on Feb. 24, 1992, on a cliff overlooking Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach.
The ceremony took place five months to the day after Nevermind dropped and was attended by drummer Dave Grohl, three Nirvana employees and an alleged drug dealer — but not Krist Novoselic, who was not on good terms with the bride and groom at the time.
10. Nirvana almost split up over a tiff about Nevermind royalties.
Six months after the album dropped, Cobain suddenly demanded a much larger slice of the proverbial pie, to take effect retroactively. Novoselic and Grohl almost quit the band in protest.
11. Dave Grohl was Nirvana’s fifth (or sixth) drummer.
Grohl, who joined Nirvana just before Nevermind was recorded, was preceded by a Spinal Tap-like procession of drummers that included Mudhoney’s Dan Peters and the Melvins’ Dale Crover. At some point, they lost count.
12. Grohl wasn’t even the only drummer who played on Nevermind.
Chad Channing, who sat behind the kit for Nirvana’s 1989 debut album, Bleach, recorded a set of Nevermind demos before losing the gig to Grohl. Channing’s minimal cymbal crashes on “Polly” were kept and appear on the final album.
13. The hidden track “Endless Nameless” was mistakenly left off the first 50,000 copies
The track, which starts several minutes after the conclusion of “Something in the Way,” was an improvised noise jam captured when the engineer kept the tape running after a botched attempt at recording “Lithium.” An error at the pressing plant caused the omission.
14. “Weird Al” Yankovic recorded his own “Endless Nameless” tribute titled “Bite Me.”
Yankovic’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” parody, “Smells Like Nirvana,” was a career-revitalizing hit for the singer, and “Bite Me” was seven seconds of cacophony. Both appeared on his 1992 album, Off the Deep End.
15. Cobain hated video director Sam Bayer’s original cut of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Cobain flew back to Los Angeles to personally edit the iconic video, telling MTV News that “it looked like a Time-Life commercial to me,” so he “threw in a few extra things which pretty much saved it.”
16. It was certified Diamond for shipping 10 million copies in March of 1999.
The disc has sold 11 million copies in America and an astounding 30 million worldwide. Despite that, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was its only single to crack the Top 10 of the Hot 100 singles chart.
17. Nirvana were captured on film in ’91 opening for indie legends Sonic Youth.
The European trek was immortalized in Sonic Youth’s 1991: The Year Punk Broke documentary, which hit screens in ’92. Due to legal issues it remained a VHS-only release until 2011, when it finally was reissued on DVD.
18. Kurt Cobain was supposedly offered the role of the heroin dealer in Pulp Fiction.
Courtney Love claims director Quentin Tarantino personally asked Cobain to play the part of Lance that went to Eric Stoltz, which is why “Tarantino, Quentin” was thanked in the liner notes to their Nevermind follow-up, In Utero.
19. John Lennon did it.
Cobain double-tracked his vocals on the album, a suggestion by producer Bruce Vig, who was nicknamed “The Nevermind Man.” Cobain wasn’t sure about the tactic as he feared it wouldn’t sound authentic, but Vig insisted because it was something John Lennon did.
20. Nevermind famously knocked Michael Jackson’s Dangerous off the top of the charts.
In a addition to overtaking the No. 1 spot from the King of Pop’s album, Nevermind spent a total of 252 weeks on the Billboard 200 albums tally. But who bumped Nirvana off the top spot the following week? None other than country superstar Garth Brooks, with Ropin the Wind.
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