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Photos: Nirvana

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  1. Here we are now, entertain us ...

    The members of Nirvana, from left, singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl are photographed backstage at England's Reading Festival on Aug. 23, 1991. Originally from Aberdeen, Wash., the band was on the cusp of a worldwide explosion in popularity as part of the grunge explosion out of Seattle. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. The almighty dollar

    Nirvana released "Nevermind," its second studio album, on Sept. 24, 1991. Driven by the popularity of the first single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the hard-driving album went on to sell over 30 million copies worldwide.

    Spencer Elden, the baby who appeared on the "Nevermind" cover, told MTV as a 17-year-old in 2008, "It's kind of creepy [to think] that that many people have seen me naked." (DGC Records) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Pool of rock

    Grohl, Novoselic and Cobain pose for an underwater portrait during a shoot in a North Hollywood pool. (Kirk Weddle / © Kirk Weddle/Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Give him a lift

    Cobain surfs the crowd during a show in Frankfurt, Germany, in December 1991. "Nevermind" had entered the Billboard Top 40 and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a genuine hit as the band toured Europe. (Paul Bergen via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Mainstream mindset

    As the grunge wave rippled across the music industry and the cultural landscape, Nirvana appeared on the April 1992 cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Cobain sent his own message about selling out with a T-shirt reading "Corporate magazines still suck." (Rolling Stone) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. An Axl to grind

    Cobain performs on stage with Nirvana at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sept. 10, 1992. MTV wanted the band to play "Smells Like Teen Spirt," but Nirvana wanted to play a newer song -- "Rape Me." The two sides agreed that the band would play "Lithium" but Cobain opened the performance with the first few lines of "Rape Me" before changing gears.

    Also at the event, Cobain got into it with Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose, who challenged the Nirvana singer to a fight backstage after exhchanging words with Cobain's wife Courtney Love. (Frank Micelotta / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Baby makes three

    Cobain and Love, with daughter Frances Bean Cobain, attend the MTV Video Music Awards at Universal Ampitheater in Universal City, Calif., on Sept. 2, 1993.

    The night's big winner was another Seattle grunge band. Pearl Jam won four awards, including video of the year, for "Jeremy." (Ron Galella / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Where did you sleep last night?

    Nirvana taped an episode of MTV's "Unplugged" series at Sony Studios in New York on Nov. 18, 1993. The band's set included six covers, including David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World," as well as an appearance by the Meat Puppets for three songs.

    Cobain died on April 5, 1994, of a self-inflicted shotgun wound. He was 27.

    The album for the session was released in the wake of Cobain's suicide and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. (Frank Micelotta / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Always loud

    Cobain and Nirvana perform during the taping of MTV's "Live and Loud" production in Seattle on Dec. 13, 1993.

    The band had by then released its third studio album, "In Utero," and embarked on its first American tour in two years.

    Rolling Stone reviewer David Fricke gave the album four-and-a-half out of five stars and wrote, "In Utero is a lot of things -- brilliant, corrosive, enraged and thoughtful, most of them all at once. But more than anything, it's a triumph of the will." (Robert Sorbo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A band of his own

    Former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, performing at the MTV Movie Awards on June 5, 2011, has gone on to find success of his own as the frontman for the band Foo Fighters. The band has released seven studio albums since forming in 1994. (Matt Sayles / AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Bucking the trends

    Novoselic, left, and Grohl, center, pose with Butch Vig, the producer of the Nirvana's "Nevermind," in Los Angeles on Sept. 6, 2011.

    After 20 years, "The album holds up really well. It's timeless," Vig told The Associated Press. "I think part of that is because the songs are really good. The production isn't gimmicky. It's just bass, drums and guitar. There's not any sort of trendy sound." (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Pieces of rock history

    Nirvana artifacts are seen at the opening of "In Bloom: The Nirvana Exhibition," marking the 20th anniversary of the release of "Nevermind," at the Loading Bay Gallery in London on Sept. 13, 2011. (Samir Hussein / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Come as you are, as you were

    A portrait of Cobain is seen at "In Bloom: The Nirvana Exhibition" at the Loading Bay Gallery in London on Sept. 13, 2011. (Samir Hussein / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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