Nirvana was an American rock band formed by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting and best-known being Dave Grohl, who joined in 1990. Despite releasing only three full-length studio albums in their seven-year career, Nirvana has come to be regarded as one of the most influential and important alternative bands in history. Though the band dissolved in 1994 after the death of Cobain, their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern rock and roll culture.
In the late 1980s, Nirvana established itself as part of the Seattle grunge scene, releasing its first album, Bleach, for the independent record label Sub Pop in 1989. They developed a sound that relied on dynamic contrasts, often between quiet verses and loud, heavy choruses. After signing to major label DGC Records, Nirvana found unexpected success with "Smells Like Teen Spirit", the first single from the band's second album Nevermind (1991). Nevermind was in part responsible for bringing both alternative rock and grunge to a mainstream audience. It has been ranked highly on lists of the greatest albums of all time by publications such as Rolling Stone and Time. Nirvana's sudden success widely popularized alternative rock, and Cobain found himself referred to in the media as the "spokesman of a generation", with Nirvana considered the "flagship band" of Generation X. Nirvana's third studio album, In Utero (1993), released to critical acclaim, featured an abrasive, less mainstream sound and challenged the group's audience.
Nirvana's active career ended following the death of Cobain in 1994, but various posthumous releases have been issued since, overseen by Novoselic, Grohl, and Cobain's widow Courtney Love. Since its debut, the band has sold over 25 million records in the United States alone, and over 75 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time.Since its breakup, Nirvana has continued to receive acclaim, and is regularly considered one of the greatest music artists of all time. In 2003, Nirvana was selected as one of the inductees of the Mojo Hall of Fame 100. The band also received a nomination for induction in the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004 as the "Greatest Artist of the 1990s". Rolling Stone placed Nirvana at number 27 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" in 2004, and at number 30 on their updated list in 2011. In 2003, the magazine's senior editor David Fricke picked Kurt Cobain as the 12th best guitarist of all time. Rolling Stone later ranked Cobain as the 45th greatest singer in 2008 and 73rd greatest guitarist of all time in 2011. VH1 ranked Nirvana as the 42nd greatest artists of rock and roll in 1998, the 7th greatest hard rock artists in 2000, and the 14th greatest artists of all time in 2010. Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, in its first year of eligibility.