Today in Music History: Nirvana released 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'

Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain performs with Nirvana in 1993. (Joe Giron/Corbis, via NPR)

History Highlight:

Today in 1991, Nirvana's single "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was released in the U.S. The unexpected success of the song in late 1991 propelled Nirvana's album Nevermind to the top of the charts at the start of 1992, an event often marked as the point where alternative rock entered the mainstream.

Also, Today In:

1964 - Rod Stewart recorded his first single, a version of Willie Dixon's "Good Morning Little School Girl." Future Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones played on the session.

1965 - The Byrds begin recording "Turn! Turn! Turn!". Unlike their first hit, "Mr. Tambourine Man," members of the group itself were permitted to play on the recording rather than session musicians.

1966 - The Beatles' Revolver hit No. 1 on the album chart, a position it would hold for six weeks.

1966 - The Supremes started a two-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with "You Can't Hurry Love," their sixth No. 1 single.

1967 - Elvis Presley recorded "Guitar Man" at RCA studio in Nashville. The Jerry Reed song would become the last in a string of 11 number-one country hits for Presley.

1983 - Former Stevie Wonder guitarist Michael Sembello started a two-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with "Maniac." The track appeared in the film Flashdance.

1988 - Guns N' Roses started a two-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with "Sweet Child O' Mine," their first No. 1 hit. The song appeared on their debut album Appetite for Destruction and was released in August 1988 as the album's third single. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart becoming the band's only No. 1 U.S. single. Guitarist Slash said in 1990, "[The song] turned into a huge hit and now it makes me sick. I mean, I like it, but I hate what it represents."

2009 - A harmonica owned by Bob Dylan sold for £2,700 (about $4,100) at an auction in Norfolk, England, which was more than four times the guide price. Dylan had presented the chromonica harmonica, made by Hohner, to a member of his wardrobe department in 1974.

2015 - Guitarist Don Griffin was killed in a car accident in Denver, Colorado. He was 60 years old. Griffin appeared on The Miracles 1976 No. 1 hit, "Love Machine" and also worked with Anita Baker. Griffin's dance band Madagascar was signed by Clive Davis to Arista Records in 1981 and released the single "Baby Not Tonight".


Vinyl inventor Waldo Semon was born today in 1898. Vinyl is used to make LP and 45 records. Semon died on May 26, 1999, at the age of 100.

Singer-songwriter José Feliciano is 74.

Joe Perry of Aerosmith is 69.

Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama is 61.

David Lowery, frontman and co-founder of the bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, is 56.

Mikey Way of My Chemical Romance is 39.

Matthew Followill of Kings of Leon is 35.

Highlights for Today in Music History are gathered from This Day in Music, Paul Shaffer's Day in Rock, Song Facts and Wikipedia.

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