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Rockers Recall Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ as Album’s 20th Anniverary Approaches

Kurt Cobain
Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

Next month marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind,’ the release of which is considered by many to be a defining moment that pushed alternative music into the forefront of mainstream consciousness. To mark the occasion, several musicians reflect on the album in a Spin magazine special.

“There were a few copies of ‘Nevermind’ floating around on cassette before the record was out, and I remember hearing it on a Walkman,” remembers Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, whose debut album ‘Ten’ dropped in August of that year. “Just hearing that tape with the white label, it had an impact. It felt like a change . . . Later that summer, Fugazi were playing in the Mojave Desert. We drove in this little Toyota with ‘Nevermind’ playing. You could just listen to that thing on repeat, it never dipped.”

“I remember Nirvana and Bjork entered my brain at the same time, and I was completely overwhelmed,” recalls Amy Lee of  Evanescence. Despite only being 9 years old when ‘Nevermind’ dropped, the album had a big effect on her. “Before that, it was all classical music for me. That record changed my life; it opened me up to a whole new world. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love that album.”

“’Nevermind’ and ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ came out the same day — I remember being so excited because I felt like we had made our great record,” Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea says. “I would put on the radio and keep listening to hear ‘Give It Away,’ but I kept hearing this Nirvana song and was like, ‘God, that’s a great f—ing song. But are they going to play ‘Give It Away’?’ And then they turned out to be the greatest band in the world.”

But for all the attention ‘Nevermind’ was getting at the time, Nirvana drummer/current Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl says the monetary rewards they reaped were slow to come. “The funny thing is that Nirvana were still playing places that held 700 to 800 people by the time we had a gold record,” he reveals. “We were still touring in a van when we had a platinum record. I was still living in my friend’s back room by the time we’d sold 10 million records. It wasn’t some crazy VH1/MC Hammer overnight bling success — I think we were all in shock after it happened. I went to Benihana with a credit card like, ‘Oh my God, this thing works!’”

Those are just a few of the people who reflected on ‘Nevermind’ in the “What Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ Means to Me” Spin special. Click here to read what members of Mastodon, My Chemical Romance and many others have to say about it.

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