Most of the narratives associated with legendary Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain are steeped in tragedy: He was painfully self-conscious about selling out, suffered from a debilitating undiagnosed stomach ailment, struggled with drugs, and ultimately took his own life, leaving an infant daughter behind.
But all those tales came after Nirvana became the biggest band in the world following the overwhelming success of 1991’s Nevermind. There are plenty of stories to be told about the band prior to its ascendence, when they were just another loud bunch of punk kids from Seattle making noise because it was fun.
One of those narratives arises in Experiencing Nirvana, a new ebook (available Tuesday, November 13) featuring photos and recollections by Bruce Pavitt, who co-founded Sub Pop Records, Nirvana’s original label. The book centers around a series of pictures taken by Pavitt over the course of an eight-day run across Europe in the fall of 1989.
Nirvana was on the road with fellow Sub Poppers Tad, both of whom were on a collision course with Mudhoney as part of the label-curated Lamefest UK at London’s Astoria Theatre. The show ended up being a definitive moment for Nirvana; they managed to capture the attention of the taste-making British music press, an accomplishment that built buzz exponentially and started a domino effect that eventually led to the hugeness of Nevermind.
Pavitt’s photos, taken on the fly with a pocket-sized Olympus, reveal a would-be superstar still in development. READ FULL STORY