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15 Crazy But True Stories About Nirvana

Updated October 25, 2019 154.3k views15 items

Unless you're a true fan, you may not know that wild tales about Nirvana include arson, food fights, and the odd alligator. The band shot to success virtually overnight with their 1991 single "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and the trio became the leaders of the alternative rock scene. While many other bands emerged around the same time, Nirvana still gets rightful credit for bringing widespread attention to grunge and the Pacific Northwest.

Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic formed Nirvana in the late 1980s, and they went through several drummers before recruiting Dave Grohl in 1990. Mainly inspired by punk rock, Nirvana found modest success with its first album Bleach, and the band's second offering, Nevermind, contained many songs that are still fan favorites.

True Nirvana stories tell of musicians who were uneasy with stardom; Kurt Cobain in particular was uncomfortable with suddenly being considered the voice of a generation. He struggled with heroin addiction until committing suicide in 1994 at the age of 27. Fans' love for Cobain was so great, many conspiracy theories about his death still circulate.

Are there things you didn't know about Nirvana? Perhaps you'll find some crazy new facts in these stories about the tiny band with an enormous influence.

  • A Bouncer Attacked Nirvana's Taxi After Kurt Cobain Hit Him With A Guitar

    Video: YouTube

    Warning: this video contains strong language.

    Because Nevermind became a hit album in a very short amount of time, the band was still getting booked in smaller venues that couldn't handle the amount of fans that suddenly wanted tickets. Kurt Cobain was already beginning to feel the pressures of stardom, and was very moody. On stage one night at an oversold venue, Cobain dove into the audience. He mistook the actions of a large bouncer trying to help him and hit the man over the head with his guitar hard enough to draw blood. The bouncer hit him back, and Cobain fled and found a closet to hide in. A concert promoter managed to convince Cobain the bouncer was gone and the band finished the show.

    As they were leaving the venue, the band was waiting in a taxi when the bouncer reappeared and started smashing the car's windows. They escaped unharmed, but had to ride in a backseat covered in broken glass.

  • Kurt Cobain Set A Club's Couch On Fire

    Right before "Smells Like Teen Spirit" shot them to stardom in 1991, Nirvana was playing a gig at Graffiti, a club in Pittsburgh. The concert promoter got into an argument with Krist Novoselic's girlfriend/crew member, claiming she was cheating the club out of some money from t-shirt sales.

    Meanwhile, the members of Nirvana were in a downstairs room, preparing to celebrate after the show. The situation grew so tense that Kurt Cobain lit a couch on fire to diffuse some anger and avoid starting a physical fight. No one was hurt and the damage wasn't that bad, but Nirvana's road manager was arrested.

  • Krist Novoselic And Dave Grohl Destroyed A Hotel Room With Kurt Loder

    MTV's Kurt Loder interviewed Nirvana in 1993 at a Minnesota hotel, and afterwards Kurt Cobain decided to retire to his room. Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, on the other hand, ended up getting very drunk with Loder, as he recalled:

    "And at one point, Krist just took this picture off the wall and just broke it against the wall, and then they started destroying everything in this room. And it's, like, 4 in the morning, and we hear that hotel security is coming up, so I said, 'Well, it's really time for me to leave.' So I'm leaving, going to the elevator, they're behind me, because they want to go down to my room; they don't want to get in trouble either."

    But Grohl and Novoselic weren't finished: they destroyed much of Loder's hotel room as well. Loder maintains that he wasn't nearly as intoxicated as the other two and only watched. Nevertheless, the bill for the damages came to $19,000.

  • They Smashed A Drum Kit So The Record Label Would Buy Them A New One

    Video: YouTube

    Nirvana often destroyed their equipment on stage. Krist Novoselic once joked to Jimmy Fallon that they did this so they wouldn't have to perform an encore. Before the band became famous and stopped playing smaller venues, they had to use whatever equipment they could get. At one point, Dave Grohl wanted a new drum kit since Kurt Cobain kept putting holes into it, but the record label kept balking.

    Finally, during a gig in Chicago, Grohl convinced his bandmates to help him completely demolish the drums after the show so the record label would be forced to buy them a new one. In fact, they even told the audience they could stick around and watch if they wanted. Grohl eventually got his new drums, but had to wait a few days since the drum shop was closed the following day. Grohl's story starts at 2:39 in the video.