It was 30 years ago today that grunge officially made it to the big time.
On January 11, 1992, Nirvana‘s Nevermind hit number one on the Billboard 200, ushering in an age of distorted guitars, disaffected lyrics and flannel shirts.
Having been released a few months earlier in September 1991, Nevermind built to its chart-conquering glory thanks in large part to the lead single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and its accompanying high school pep rally-meets-anarchist punk mosh pit music video.
Nevermind‘s ascension to the top of the Billboard 200 even dethroned the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, whose album Dangerous had spent the previous four weeks at number one.
With Nevermind leading the way, more and more grunge albums started to pop up on the Billboard 200 throughout 1992. Pearl Jam‘s Ten, which was first released in August 1991, eventually peaked at number two nearly a year later in August 1992. Soundgarden‘s most recent release, 1991’s Badmotorfinger, gave the band what was then their highest-charting release when it reached number 39 on the Billboard 200 in February 1992.
The band Temple of the Dog — featuring Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, plus guest vocals by Eddie Vedder — released their self-titled debut album to little fanfare in 1991. By September 1992, it had peaked at number five on the Billboard 200.
To date, Nevermind has spent over 550 weeks on the Billboard 200. It’s been certified Diamond by the RIAA for over 10 million in sales. In 2004, the Library of Congress added Nevermind to its National Recording Registry.
Nevermind was reissued this past November in celebration of its 30th anniversary.
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