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Grunge music. The World According to Kurt.

Updated on January 9, 2013


In a world that was weary of Stock Aitken and Waterman mass produced pop and hedonistic Glam rockers a new breed emerged from the alternative music scene. Grunge music emerged in Seattle in the late 1980's and became mainstream in the early 1990's. Grunge rock was typified by unkempt hair, nondescript clothing and self indulgent lyrics which often covered social alienation, depression, self loathing, suicide or death. The Grungers were the antithesis of Glam rock. Although the drugs many of them took were just as hard.

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam formed in 1990 with Eddie Vedder as lead vocalist, Jeff Ament Bass, Stone Gossard Lead and Rythm Guitar and Mike Mcreedy lead guitar. They achieved success with their debut Album Ten. Ten yielded hit singles with "Jeremy", "Alive" and "Even Flow" an extensive tour schedule followed Ten and the band did not go back to the studio until 1993. The second Album Vs sold over 950,000 copies in its first week after re,lease and included the singles Go, Animal, Daughter and Dissident. The band has enjoyed success in spite of a refusal to do music videos and a boycott of Ticketmaster. Pearl Jam have remained active since their grunge heyday and have released a total of 7 albums to date.


Nirvana were actually formed in Aberdeen Washington by Krist Nikolic and Kurt Cobain. They released their first album bleach in 1989. Nirvana had a few drummer changes before the arrival of Dave Grohl in 1990. In 1991 the groups second album Nevermind saw them shoot to stardom. "Smells like Teen Spirit" was the first single from the album followed by "Come as You Are" and Lithium. In 1993 in spite of rumours that the album was unreleasable Nirvanas thirn Album "In Utero" debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

On March 4th 1994 Courtenay Love found Kurt Cobain unconscious in their hotel room in Rome. The press was told that Cobain had reacted to a prescription of rohypnol but it soon became apparent that Cobain had a heroin problem. Cobain was convinced to go to rehab but did not last a week. On Friday April 8th he was found dead at home. He had shot himself in the head with a shot gun.

There were some posthumous Nirvana releases and Dave Grohl has gone to greater personal success with the Foo Fighters. Cobains wife Courtenay Love was lead singer for Hole and has also had drug and alcohol problems.


Soundgarden formed in 1984 in Seattle with lead sInger Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil and Hiro Yamamato on base guitar. In 1991 they released their third album Badmotorfinger which achieved international success with tracks such as "Jesus Christ Pose" "Outshined" and "Rusty Cage"

The bands main success was with the 1994 album Superunknown which featured the Grammy award winning singles "Spoon man" and "Black hole sun".

Late in 1994 a heavy touring schedule took its toll on Cornell who had strained his vocal cords. The bands next album "Down on the Upside" (1996) saw conflict emerge as Cornell wanted to change the bands style. The Album was not as heavy as previous offerings and the band members decided to split in 1997.

The band had numerous personell changes since inception but seems to have avoided the drug problems experienced by Nirvana and Alice in Chains.

Since 2010 Soundgarden have re-united for some performances and have been producing another album since February 2011

Alice in Chains

Alice In Chains were formed in 1987 by guitarist/songwriter Jerry Cantrell and lead singer Layne Staley. Their first album "Facelift" received critical acclaim and was scene as a breakout album for Grunge music. In 1992 they released their second album "Dirt" which was their most successfull release. Dirt went quadruple platinum and included some of the bands finest songs such as "Would", "Rooster" and "Rain when I Die". Their 3rd album "Alice in Chains was released in November 1995. Alice in Chains never officially broke up but there were lengthy periods of inactivity and band members started working on other projects which seems to be a common death knell for rock groups. The other death knell for a rock group is drugs. In 2002 Staley died of an overdose of Heroin and Cocaine. Former base guitarist Mike Starr who quit the band in 1993 died of a cocktail of Methodone and anti depressants in 2010. The band put out a fourth album "Black Gives way to Blue" in 2009 and there has been constant talk of a fifth album since then. I have chosen "Man in the Box" to demonstrate Alice in Chains talents. A great song with very dark lyrics.


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      timewarnercablenc 5 years ago

      Nice list, they are definitely the 'leaders' in that era.

    • deesimmons profile image

      deesimmons 5 years ago

      No problem!

    • goosegreen profile image

      goosegreen 5 years ago

      I vaguely recall some allegations of murder in the past but never gave it much thought. When I read your reply I googled "Kurt Cobain murder" and there are a number of sites dedicated to the topic. Thank you for enlightening me. Personally I still think it was suicide but with such a volatile couple who knows?

    • deesimmons profile image

      deesimmons 5 years ago

      I was definitely referring to the fact that I think he was murdered.

    • goosegreen profile image

      goosegreen 5 years ago

      Thank you Dee, Rebekah and La Elsen.

      Dee, were you referring to the evils of drug addiction or are you suggesting Kurt was murdered? Not judging just curious.

      Rebekah, I think that all of these bands were unique because of the quality and unique sounds of their vocalists. I usually don't like posting live recordings but I made an exception with Pearl Jam because this live recording sounds like it was made in the studio. It was very tempting to throw in Smashing Pumpkins for good measure.

      LA Elsen, I am glad you liked the trip down memory lane. The whole drive with grunge was a departure from the mass produced sounds of the eighties. Chris Cornell felt like he was ripping people off by singing with injured vocal cords. Grunge was about real music and real instruments. There are some great bands out today but alas I don't keep up with them the way I used to and I can't stand hip hop...

    • LA Elsen profile image

      LA Elsen 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      This takes me back. I totally miss this era of music/fashion. Music was more organic back then. Although I am a big fan of many of the newer bands, they just don't have the staying power.

    • rebekahELLE profile image

      rebekahELLE 5 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Nice selections. Each of these groups had/have such an artistic, creative sound to their music. I never grow tired of their music, it has a long shelf life when it comes to great music. I also loved Chris Cornell's work while with Audioslave. You've picked some of my favorites with the videos.

    • deesimmons profile image

      deesimmons 5 years ago

      I love this! *Ahem* Kurt Cobain's death in my mind will probably never be a suicide.

      Grunge is lovely.