Twenty-five years ago Saturday, Geffen Records unleashed Nirvana’s Nevermind on the public like a demon from the depths of hell pulverizing anything and everything in its path. The album presaged the musical revolution that would eventually be termed grunge, but it also brought what many people had deemed alternative music into the mainstream. And whether you like the band or think they sold out punk rock, they changed music forever.

Eventually displacing Michael Jackson’s Dangerous from the top of the Billboard charts, Nevermind broke through in a way that The Pixies, Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth and The Replacements never could.

On the flipside, the album’s massive popularity ultimately paved the way for artists such as Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead, all of which have enjoyed somewhat surprising commercial success.

And more than two decades later, Nevermind continues to be one of the most influential albums in the history of rock. Below, a striking variety of artists share their thoughts about the unprecedented effect the album and the band had on their lives and careers.

 

“I was driving to school and 107.7 The End, which is still a radio station in Seattle—never before had this happened and I’m sure never since—played ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ over and over. You could tell the weather had changed, the landscape had changed. I drove to school with a huge lump in my throat.” —Carrie Brownstein, Sleater-Kinney (Spin)

“All the great albums get greater with time. They never date. If you listen to ‘Nevermind’ it still sounds like the future of rock.” —Noel Gallagher, Oasis, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (NME)

“That kid has heart.” —Bob Dylan (after hearing ‘Polly,’ the album’s sixth song, according to 2001’s Heavier Than Heaven by Charles R. Cross)

Nevermind came out when I was 9, and it meant everything to me. I know I wouldn’t be playing music if it wasn’t for Nirvana.” —St. Vincent (Rolling Stone)

“When it came out, I thought it was the most significant American rock ’n’ roll album since the Doors.” —Ray Davies, The Kinks (Spin)

“They were massively influential to us when we were growing up. They’re one of the reasons we picked up some instruments and decided to start a band in the first place, and I think that for many other millions of people, they were influential for starting bands.” —Dominic Howard, Muse (GIGWISE)

“I love Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, the lyrics are so deep—stuff like ‘The animals I’ve trapped have now become my pets.’ ” —Tricky, (Amazon.co.uk)

“Nirvana were artists in every sense of the word.” —Michael Stipe (Rolling Stone)

“It was weird because hip-hop was becoming this force, then grunge music stopped it for one second, ya know? Those ‘hair bands’ were too easy for us to take out; when Kurt Cobain came with that statement it was like, ‘We got to wait awhile.’ ” —Jay Z (Spin)

“There’s a reason why the Foo Fighters don’t blast out Nirvana songs every night: because we have a lot of respect for them. You know, that’s hallowed ground. We have to be careful. We have to tread lightly.” —Dave Grohl (TChadQuarterly)



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