Years active: 1984 - 1994 Influenced: Grunge Hometown: Aberdeen, Washington. Jam: "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Unwittingly, this song served as the gateway drug through which alternative rock slipped into the mainstream.
Kurt Cobain and Nirvana brought the grunge scene of Seattle to the forefront of the American music scene with their debut album Bleach for the independent label Sup Pop in 1989. Cobain was unhappy with the lack of promotion for the album by Sup Pop and they took Kim Gordon's advice to sign to a major label. Is it possible to claim that Nirvana and Sonic Youth aren't indie because they joined the mainstream through major label deals? Of course it is a plausible/possible argument, but not one we'll be making here. These two groups, along with plenty of others, still definitively changed the course and pervasiveness of indie rock, partially through the very mainstream success that their peers eschewed. The group was heralded as the emblematic band of "Generation X" after the success of their first major label release Nevermind and its lead single "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Cobain's tragic suicide in 1994 cut short what might have been one of the greatest legacies in music itself, let alone indie rock.