Watch Nirvana play "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time
In April of 1991, Nirvana debuted an in-progress version of their current-day smash hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” They performed the track during a gig at the OK Hotel in Seattle. In the video below, you can hear a fan shout, “Play ‘Free Bird’!” before Kurt jumps into the track’s infamous lead riff. Those in attendance that night witnessed an incredibly pivotal moment in rock n’ roll history, and a good portion most likely had no idea.
“I was trying to write the ultimate pop song,” frontman Kurt Cobain told Rolling Stone in 1993. “I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard. It was such a cliched riff It was so close to a Boston riff or 'Louie, Louie.' When I came up with the guitar part, Krist [Novoselic] looked at me and said, 'That is so ridiculous.' I made the band play it for an hour and a half.”