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Nirvana: From Zeroes To Heroes

In October 1989,, Nirvana performed a show that propelled them from the underground to worldwide attention. Here's what happened...

Leeds, October 25, 1989. It’s a cold, wet night, slate grey skies are overhead and won’t shift. It’s not an evening to be out. Inside the Duchess of York, it’s not much better. Out front, there’s a sparse crowd – the place holds 200 on a good night, and tonight is not a good night. Backstage, three days into their first UK tour, things don’t appear to be much better.

There, the seven members of Tad and Nirvana – Tad singer Tad Doyle, guitarist Guy Thorstensen, bassist Kurt Danielson, drummer Steve Wied and Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain (then Kurdt), bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Chad Channing – are half asleep as showtime looms. They’re wrapped in blankets and huddled around a small electric fire, trying to keep warm, trying to keep the blood moving.
But, despite it all, each of them has half a smile on their face. Anton Brookes, then the UK publicist for the Sub Pop label to which Tad and Nirvana were signed, remembers the scene. And though he also remembers the coldness and the greyness outside, what he retains the most about the seven people huddled in that dressing room is one thing: “camaraderie”.
Just over a month later, Nirvana would become the underground’s hottest band – but it would take a gruelling tour, a breakdown, and a suicide threat to get them there...

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