In late 1991, an unknown band from Seattle released their first album, “Nevermind.” The first track on that album was “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I’m sure not even the leader of the group, Kurt Cobain, saw that “Teen Spirit” was becoming tea anthem of a whole new musical and cultural movement, which would become known as ‘Grunge’.
The Grunge movement originated in the city of Seattle, Wa. The look was youthful, working class with minimum wage. Long hair, goatees, T-shirts with checkered overshirts, and ripped jeans. The music was loud, heavy, and a bit dark.
Many bands from the Seattle area joined the movement, with names like ‘Collective Soul’, ‘Stone Temple Pilots’ and ‘Soundgarden’. But the two bands that stood out at the top of the totem pole were, of course, Nirvana and ‘Pearl Jam’. Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten, was released in August 1991. Featuring deep-voiced, tough-singing frontman Eddie Vedder, the album produced three hits, “Alive,” “Even Flow” and the provocative, “Jeremy,” about a boy, (the character of the title), who is bullied and harassed at school until he violently lashes out at all of his classmates. The video for the song became a fan favorite and was one of the most played on Mtv in 1992. As for some of the other bands that shined in this genre, ‘Collective Soul’ hit the charts with “World I Know” and “Run”, a track from the soundtrack of the movie “Varsity Blues”.
The song, ‘Plush’, became a hit for the ‘Stone Temple Pilots’. The band, ‘Blind Melon’, with its melodic, unconventional, but very pleasant tune, “No Rain”, became the group’s only hit. On the other hand, there was the dark and foreboding “Black Hole Sun” from ‘Soundgarden’. The song title says it all, but it’s still entertaining. Even the established and successful REM jumped on the dirty to the car with his haunting and almost hypnotic song, “Drive.”
But a tragedy would strike that could be said to be a death nail for Grunge. On April 8, 1994, Kurt Cobain’s body was found at his home in Seattle, Washington by a power company employee who had gone to Kobain’s residence to install security lighting.
Cobain had just gotten out of rehab for a heroin addiction he had been struggling with since before Nirvana became famous. After his release from rehab, his wife, Courtney Love, described the artist as “suicidal” and “deeply depressed.” Cobain was discovered in a spare room above the garage of his house. With a shotgun across his body, a gunshot wound to the face, and a suicide note only a few feet away, the authorities’ final decision was indeed suicide. However, murder theories surfaced, but the artist’s medical examiner and homicide detectives who worked on the case say the evidence points to the fact that Cobain died by his own hand. The note that was found contained information about the singer’s immediate future plans. For example, leaving the wife, love and the music business. Then, the last lines of the note spoke that suicide was the only way out for the tormented star.
Thousands of devoted fans saw Kurt Cobain as an iconic figure who ushered in the Grunge movement. Sadly and inevitably, when he died, Grunge died with him. Bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Stone Temple Pilots continued, but by mid-1996, it was apparent that grunge had reached its peak and was now spiraling into the history books. Like the rain-soaked city it was born in, grunge was a bit like that. The Grunge clouds arrived and brought the rain with them. So, it rained that day, the next day, and the next day. Then the rain stopped. The music will live on.