Nirvana was an American rock band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. It was founded by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting and best-known being Dave Grohl, who joined in 1990. Though the band dissolved in 1994 after the death of Cobain, their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern rock 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 worldwide success with "Smells Like Teen Spirit", the first single from the band's second album Nevermind (1991), which has now been ranked as one of the greatest songs in the history of rock music. Nevermind has also been called one of the greatest albums of all time and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. Nirvana's sudden success widely popularised alternative rock and grunge, and Cobain found himself referred to in the media as the "spokesman of a generation", with Nirvana considered the "flagship band" of Generation X.
After touring heavily and releasing Incesticide (1992) and Hormoaning (1992), Nirvana's third studio album, In Utero (1993), was released to critical acclaim. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart and featured an abrasive, less mainstream sound and challenged the group's audience and has since sold over 15 million copies worldwide. In Utero would be Nirvana's last studio album in their active career. Nirvana's active career ended following the death of Cobain in 1994, but many various posthumous releases have been issued since, overseen by Novoselic, Grohl, and Cobain's widow Courtney Love. The posthumous release MTV Unplugged in New York won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1996.
Overall, Nirvana have received twelve awards from twenty-five nominations winning an American Music Award, Brit Award, Grammy Award, seven MTV Video Music Awards and two NME Awards. 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. Nirvana has also been ranked as one of the greatest music artists of all time with Rolling Stone placing them 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. Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, in its first year of eligibility.