Formed in the outskirts of Seattle in 1987, Nirvana was destined to introduce Grunge rock to mainstream audiences around the globe. The 1991 hit "smells like a teen spirit" from the "Nevermind" album swept the Seattle grunge scene into the spotlights, with other bands such as Pearl Jam, Alice and Chains and Soundgarden riding on the waves of mainstream success.
"Bleach", Nirvana's debut album, was thought to be closer to the original Grunge sound than the following albums, and was heavily influenced by The Melvins and Mudhoney, two pioneers of the unique Grunge sound. It seems that due to the similarity to heavy metal and proximity to the grunge sound that the album did not gain mainstream recognition upon release.
As mentioned before, the 1991 single "smells like a teen spirit" brought the band's second album, "Nevermind", to mainstream audiences. The album's success was enormous, topping charts and making Gold and Platinum in late November of that year.
The members of the band, singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl (the drummer who lasted the longest, currently frontman of the Foo Fighters) were not expecting the massive wave of publicity that surrounded them following the huge success of the album, and Cobain worried about the loss of the veteran hardcore followers of the band. This resulted in the album "In Utero", which is considered an attempt to return to the rough punk/indie style from which Nirvana originated, more like their first album "Bleach". "In Utero" aroused controversy over explicit language, with vulgar descriptions of body parts, beginning with the album title which is a common biology and medical term meaning (literally) "in the womb". The album includes the controversial "Rape Me", which Cobain repeatedly claimed was an anti-rape song.
Following the success of "In Utero"' Kurt Cobain's drug addiction to a turn for the worse. An attempt to institutionalize him failed after Cobain climbed over the institute's wall and fled. A week later his body was found lying in his Seattle home. Apparently he had injected a high dose of heroin and the shot himself, thus bringing the band's act to a tragic end.
Following Cobain's death an "Unplugged" album was released, an acoustic album which won the 1996 best alternative album Grammy.