April 8, 1994

On this sad spring day singer Kurt Cobain died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The tragedy caused a national outpouring of grief among the millions of Nirvana fans. Cobain’s “grunge” band transformed the sound of alternative rock music in the early 1990s.

A difficult childhood led to his experimenting with drugs and dropping out of high school. In 1987, he formed his band, Nirvana, which provided an outlet for his anger and cynicism.

The band was influenced by late-1970s punk and was greatly responsible for Seattle’s “grunge” sound. Nirvana became an underground hit with its debut album, Bleach, in 1989, which they spent only $606.17 recording. Eventually the band signed with DGC for a $287,000 advance and recorded Nevermind, which topped the charts and sold 10 million copies in 1992.

Cobain and Nirvana’s success was short-lived. In 1993 Cobain overdosed on heroin twice and allegedly attempted suicide more than once before he finally succeeded.

The band’s influence and popularity has endured beyond their lead singer. After Cobain’s death, Nirvana released MTV Unplugged in New York, and it went on to top the charts.