Nirvana Nevermind at 25

Nevermind was released on 24 September 1991. Its cover featured a baby and a US dollar bill. Underwater.

The interest to this site is tenuous – the album cover has money on it.

The idea really just started with the baby. Kurt Cobain wanted to capture some of the imagery he saw in a documentary about water births. After rejecting stock photos, the baby son of the photographer’s friend was dunked in the water and the image we see today was captured for the first time. Later the dollar bill on the end of a fishing line was added, giving the impression that the baby was swimming towards it.

There was controversy that the image showed the baby’s penis. Cobain protested that only paedophiles would find it offensive.

Five years ago, the “baby” in the photo recreated the shoot, with one notable modification.

Pool party

There was much more than just a photo of a baby. The band themselves posed for underwater photos. But they didn’t like them and the photos were not used. Photographer Kirk Weddle recently released these photos, showing a young Dave Grohl looking like he was enjoying every minute of it. Nevermind was the first album featuring Dave Grohl on drums.

Production

Nevermind was produced by Butch Vig. In this interview he describes what seems to be a highly energised period of recording with the band, knowing he had to capture Cobain’s inspirational moments as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Two of the best known tracks – singles Smells Like Teen Spirit and Come As You Are – were written just days before recording. But the band rehearsed them beforehand and as with other tracks, these were recorded in two or three takes.

Legacy

The album defined the grunge era just like Never Mind the Bollocks defined punk and Saturday Night Fever defined disco. It also bridged the eras when grunge shed its punk-attitude rebelliousness and became mainstream.
Nevermind sold 10 million copies in the USA and at least as many again around the rest of the world. It was the best selling album for 1991 in the USA.

Here is the first single from Nevermind

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