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Rock & Rebel: Nirvana accept the fame

It’s difficult to imagine that Nirvana are now old enough to have been nominated for the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are the band that will, strangely enough, forever remain an image of grunge youth – flannelette, angst and slogan tees.

In order to be eligible for the Hall of Fame, nominees need to have released their first single at least 25 years ago. In 1988, Nirvana released ‘Love Buzz‘ through Sub Pop Records in Seattle. Only just scraping in, to the year, they are obviously going to have a nice advantage on the public vote.

Last month marked the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s third and final studio album, ‘In Utero‘. Released in 1993, it was the thrashier follow up to one of the most influential albums throughout rock history – ‘Nevermind‘. With all three of Nirvana’s albums being held in high regard, the reaction to the single ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nevermind)‘ in 1991, thrust three young men into universal stardom. The overwhelming response was unexpected and took the grit and grime of punk to the masses.

The overnight fame was the beginning of a whole new cultural movement via Seattle – grunge. This movement phased out glam metal and alternative rock was born. By the late eighties, minimal heavier sounds were growing in popularity; the tone was set for a rawer form of rock.

Cobain, Grohl and Novoselic initially struggled with their place in the music industry as they grew to become more mainstream. This recognition also gave them unimaginable power, a mega platform on which they could scream their views on the world. Politics was always a driving force with the trio.
Kurt Cobain was very open about his political views and was active in his approach to stop sexism, racism and homophobia. His most direct attempt at drawing attention to a sensitive topic was with the track ‘Rape Me‘ (In Utero). Other attempts had been misunderstood so he made it as blunt as possible, never afraid of offending anyone if he was getting his point across.

Although recognised for their talent as a band, it often comes back to Kurt Cobain. There was a level of mystery surrounding both him as an individual, and the circumstances of his death. With an idol like Iggy Pop, rebellion was inevitable. His songwriting was poetry inspired by a troubled upbringing, bitter about his broken family. Cobain was an angry man and brave enough to show it.
Unfortunately the level of fame became too huge for him to handle. His widowed wife Courtney Love believes superstar status combined with lifestyle (placing much blame on herself), amounted to his suicide. As an artist, his vision was vast and he certainly went out on a high.

The two surviving members will be willing and ready to accept the award come April next year. Dave Grohl (drums) is still killing it with the Foo Fighters and Krist Novoselic (bass) has remained active both musically and politically – having published a book ‘Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix This Broken Democracy.’ They are both cooler than your average middle aged men, hard not to be when you were part of one of the most influential bands of all time.

If Nirvana are inducted, they will be entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the 20th anniversary to the month of Cobain’s death (April 1994). However, they are still up against some tough competition – Deep Purple, Kiss, Chic, N.W.A, Peter Gabriel and various other talented musicians all worthy of recognition.

With all these milestones in place, there’s no denying that the timing feels right.

Written by Kylie O’Connell

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