GRUNGE The Leaders of the Sound
Some of the names you know — some you don’t: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, and Alice in Chains. These bands informed and captured the cultural revolution happening in the 90s. They were the epicenter of music, broadcasting sonic heat from Washington state out to the world. Grunge could be defined as the new Punk. Upstart teens creating in obscurity, reluctantly vaulted to a world stage brought out their struggles with drugs and depression, fueling work that could connect directly with the disillusioned, cynical generation tired of 80s pop. These gentle metallists on distorted guitar carved out a space in music that was ushered in by a society grappling with rebellion against the slick wealthy facade of the 80s.
Kurt Cobain: Nirvana
Nirvana, led by frontman Kurt Cobain, was arguably the most well-known band of the Grunge period. Kurt led a dazzling life filled with drama and drugs, but it’s been widely reported that he just wanted a calm life playing his music, and out of the public eye. Instead he got fame and fortune dumped on him and the weight finally became too great. Driven by anger and alienation, we lost Kurt at 27 — just as his star was rising.
Chris Cornell: Soundgarden
We just lost Chris, leader of Soundgarden and Audioslave, and one of the cleanest singers in the business (he was known for his nearly four-octave vocal range). Born and raised in Seattle, Chris grew up listening to The Beatles, sparking his first performances of cover tunes. He later formed Soundgarden in 1984, and as a band earned his first Grammy nom in 1990. The release of the album “Superunknown” in 1994 broke Soundgarden into the mainstream, catapulting Cornell to the forefront of the emerging Grunge scene.
Eddie Vedder: Pearl Jam
Edward Louis Severson (AKA Eddie Vedder): His baritone vocals led the band Pearl Jam to their first Grammy nomination in 1993 for the song “Jeremy,” and on to induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Eddie was one of the few leaders in music at that time to openly acknowledge the pressures of sudden fame, and reduce its impact on him. As a band, Pearl Jam decided to stop doing music videos (unheard of in the time of MTV), and boycott ticket conglomerate Ticketmaster, whom they felt were gouging Pearl Jam fans with sky-high ticket prices. Though it impacted their ability to tour in the US as widely as some, they still topped Billboard charts regularly.