15 Crazy But True Stories About Nirvana

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.

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  • Krist Novoselic Smeared Crisco On His Body To Play Twister With The Smashing Pumpkins

    Krist Novoselic Smeared Crisco On His Body To Play Twister With The Smashing Pumpkins
    Video: YouTube

    Nirvana displayed their playful side when they teamed up with Smashing Pumpkins for an MTV-sponsored game of Twister in 1991. Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl enthusiastically greased up Krist Novoselic with Crisco before his turn on the game mat.

    Not seen in the video is Novoselic using an American flag to remove the grease. The move didn't sit well with some onlookers, as he recalled:

    "These jocks came up and were really bad-vibing me. Like, 'Hey, you don’t do that to our American flag.' So I ended up having some kind of bodyguard go with me to the club."

  • They Almost Had A Run-In With Wild Alligators

    Before Nirvana became one of the biggest bands in the country, they spent a lot of time touring in a van and usually couldn't afford hotel rooms, much food, or gas. They enforced rules for themselves to save money, like always driving under 70 mph and never using the air conditioner. Sometimes the band would sleep in the van or camp outside; one time they accidentally slept on a median in the middle of a road. Occasionally, they would stay at the homes of people they met while on tour. 

    Kurt Cobain spoke of one unsettling incident on the road:

    "But I remember one time in Texas on our first tour we slept at the edge of a lake where there were signs all over saying beware of alligators. We all slept with baseball bats by our sides, or we tried to sleep. In the middle of the night we thought we saw one so we bagged out."

  • They Got Kicked Out Of The Nevermind Release Party For Starting A Food Fight

    The release party for Nevermind erupted into a full-fledged food fight after Kurt Cobain started flinging dip at people. He, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl were all asked to leave. "We were laughing," Novoselic remembers. "Oh my God, we just got kicked out of our own record release party!" Many of the party-goers didn't notice the guests of honor had left but the festivities didn't end there.

    Nirvana ended up a friend's loft, but the party died when Cobain shot off a fire extinguisher. Everyone then moved somewhere else – until Cobain stuck a Nelson gold record plaque smeared in lipstick in a microwave, put on one of the host's dresses, and everyone passed out. The next morning, Cobain decided to purchase a rump roast, shoot at it, and then eat it.

  • Dave Grohl Taught Kurt Cobain How To Give Himself A Tattoo

    Kurt Cobain had a small tattoo on one arm which he inked himself: an image of the K Records logo, an independent music company in Olympia, WA. Dave Grohl was nice enough to teach him how: "You can do it with just a regular sewing needle, string, and some India ink. Wrap the thread around the needle, dip it in the ink, and jab it in."

    Unfortunately Grohl's art skills didn't transfer so easily to Cobain. "But when I did it, the thread unraveled. So I ended up jabbing in the needle and pouring ink all over my arm," he said.

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

    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.