It was 25 years ago tomorrow — Sept. 24, 1991 — that Nevermind taught the world about grunge. And flannel shirts haven’t been the same since.
They were seemingly just another hard-rocking, long-haired rock band from the Pacific Northwest, indebted to Black Sabbath and cheap beer, but when Nirvana released their second album, Nevermind, few had any idea that the record would go on to sell over 24 million copies worldwide. And counting.
Most listeners were introduced to Nirvana via Smells Like Teen Spirit, the lead single from the album. With its instantly memorable opening guitar riff (and stark video in heavy rotation on MTV), the song set the template for the mix of blisteringly loud and eerily quiet dynamics that is the record’s sonic signature. Songwriter Kurt Cobain acknowledged the influence of indie rockers the Pixies and his desire to dress his pop hooks up in crushing hard rock riffs. Add the thundering drumming of future Foo Fighter Dave Grohl to the anchoring bass of Krist Novoselic, and Nirvana had hit on a formula that would thrust alternative rock into the mainstream.