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Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past Thursday by long time friend Michael Stipe. The REM frontman took to the stage during the induction ceremony to give a beautiful and eloquent speech about his friend Kurt Cobain, as well as provide context to younger fans who may not know what the music scene was like in the late 80s as Nirvana formed. The video above, in all of its horrific camera wobbling glory, was shared by the R.E.M. Facebook page.
Both living band members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, spoke briefly about the band and what the honor means to them. It was especially nice to hear Dave Grohl acknowledge by name the drummers who came before him in Nirvana, most notably Chad Channing who played on In Bleach the album that made Nirvana eligible this year. Why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame decided to leave out Chad, when they’ve included various lineups in the past is a mystery. I knew Dave Grohl wasn’t the original drummer, but had no clue he was number five. Talk about a stroke of luck. The other 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees are Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, the E Street Band, and Daryl Hall and John Oates.
I honestly don’t remember a lot about music back when Nirvana was coming up. Other than the Flashdance tape my mom had, and my parents’ copy of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Christmas album. At some point I bought Run DMC’s Down With the King. But it would be the introduction of the CD player into my life and two albums that would change me forever: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits and Nirvana’s Nevermind.
No reddit to geek out with fans about the band, no forums to get on and chat, a local BBS where we’d maybe talk music now and then while role playing. That was the world in which I began to seek out more Nirvana. A new album, a single, a snippet of an interview caught on 120 Minutes before I passed out from exhaustion. I’d take anything. I had the great honor of having Nirvana be my band. My Zeppelin, my Jimi, my Stones, my Beatles. They changed the way I saw the world, the way I saw music, and for that I’m forever grateful. I don’t think I’d love music half as much if Kurt’s cracked and emotional voice had never reached my ears.
It’s fitting that in their first year of availability Nirvana would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To compare, KISS is also being inducted this year, but they’ve been waiting for a while to get in. Why? Because gimmicks and decent music get you attention, and you may be worthy of entrance, but in the end you’re just another showpiece. Nirvana was, and is, a cultural turning point in history. Kurt’s death cut the band’s life short as well, although you have to wonder if Nirvana had another tour in them, let alone another album. In Utero might have been a perfect studio album to close on, as it’s Nirvana with hooks incorporated. Some claim that Nirvana became the establishment Kurt railed against, I claim that Nirvana changed the mainstream into something that was worth loving.