The band received several awards and nominations in their debut year in 1992, including nominations for Favorite New Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist from the American Music Awards, Best Alternative Music Performance for Nevermind from the Grammy Awards, and Video of the Year and Viewer’s Choice for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from the MTV Video Music Awards. They received the Best Alternative Video award for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Best New Artist from the MTV Video Music Awards in the same year. The song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was also nominated for Best Rock Song at the 1993 Grammy Awards, but it lost to “Layla” by Eric Clapton. Clapton’s win over Nirvana would later be named one of the “10 biggest upsets” in Grammy history by Entertainment Weekly. After receiving five nominations from the Grammy Awards without winning any of them, the band finally received the Best Alternative Music Performance award for MTV Unplugged in New York in 1996. Overall, Nirvana has received nine awards from twenty-one nominations.
American Music Awards
The American Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony created by Dick Clark in 1973.
|1992||Nirvana||Favorite New Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist||Nominated|
|1995||Nirvana||Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist||Won|
The BRIT Awards are the British Phonographic Industry’s annual pop music awards
|1993||Nirvana||Best International Newcomer||Won|
The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States.
|1992||Nevermind||Best Alternative Music Performance||Nominated|
|1993||“Smells Like Teen Spirit”||Best Rock Song||Nominated|
|1994||In Utero||Best Alternative Music Performance||Nominated|
|1995||“All Apologies”||Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|Best Rock Song||Nominated|
|1996||MTV Unplugged in New York||Best Alternative Music Performance||Won|
MTV Video Music Awards
The MTV Video Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony established in 1984 by MTV. Nirvana has received five awards from ten nominations
|1992||“Smells Like Teen Spirit”||Best Alternative Video||Won|
|Video of the Year||Nominated|
|Nirvana||Best New Artist||Won|
|1993||“In Bloom”||Best Alternative Video||Won|
|1994||“Heart-Shaped Box”||Best Alternative Video||Won|
|Best Art Direction||Won|
|Video of the Year||Nominated|
Founded by the British music magazine NME, the NME Awards are awarded annually.
|2005||With the Lights Out||Best Music DVD||Nominated|
|2008||MTV Unplugged in New York||Best Music DVD||Won|
* 1989: Bleach
* 1991: Nevermind
* 1993: In Utero
* Kurt Cobain – vocals, guitar (1987–1994)
* Krist Novoselic – bass guitar (1987–1994)
* Dave Grohl – drums, backing vocals (1990–1994)
* Aaron Burckhard – drums (1987–1988)
* Dale Crover – drums (1988, 1990)
* Dave Foster – drums (1988)
* Chad Channing – drums (1988–1990)
* Jason Everman – guitar (1989)
* Dan Peters – drums (1990)
* “Big” John Duncan – guitar (1993)
* Pat Smear – guitar, backing vocals (1993–1994)
* Lori Goldston – cello (1993–1994)
* Melora Creager – cello (1994)
Cobain and Novoselic met in 1985. Both were fans of the Melvins, and frequented the band’s practice space. After a couple of false starts at forming their own band, the duo recruited drummer Aaron Burckhard, creating the first incarnation of what would eventually become Nirvana. Cobain later described the sound of the band when they first started as “a Gang of Four and Scratch Acid ripoff.” Within a few months, Burckhard was fired from the band. He was temporarily replaced by Dale Crover of the Melvins, who played on the band’s first demos. Dave Foster then began a brief tenure as the band’s drummer.
During its initial months, the band went through a series of names, including Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew, and Ted Ed Fred. The band finally settled on Nirvana in early 1988, which Cobain said was chosen because “I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk rock name like the Angry Samoans.” Nirvana played their first show under the name that March. A couple of months later, the band finally settled on a drummer, Chad Channing.
Nirvana’s first release was the single “Love Buzz/Big Cheese” in 1988 on Seattle independent record label Sub Pop. The following year, the band released its first album, Bleach. To record Bleach, the band turned to noted local producer Jack Endino, who had recorded the band’s first studio demos. Bleach was highly influenced by the Melvins, by the heavy dirge-rock of Mudhoney, 1980s punk rock, the Pixies, and by the 1970s heavy metal of Black Sabbath. Novoselic noted in a 2001 interview with Rolling Stone that the band had played a tape in their van while on tour that had an album by The Smithereens on one side and an album by the black metal band Celtic Frost on the other, and noted that the combination probably played an influence as well. Bleach became a favorite of college radio stations nationally, but gave few hints of where the band would find itself two years later.
The money for the recording sessions for Bleach, listed as $606.17 on the album sleeve, was supplied by Jason Everman. Everman was introduced to Cobain by Dylan Carlson, but had known Channing since the fifth grade.
Everman began hanging out with the band, and offered to lend the money to them for the recording. Though Everman did not actually play on the album, he was credited for playing guitar on Bleach because, according to Novoselic, they “wanted to make him feel more at home in the band.” After the album was completed, Everman had a brief stay with the band as a second guitar player, but was fired following their first US tour.
In a late 1989 interview, Cobain noted that the band’s music was changing. He said, “The early songs were really angry … But as time goes on the songs are getting poppier and poppier as I get happier and happier. The songs are now about conflicts in relationships, emotional things with other human beings.” In April 1990, the band began working with producer Butch Vig at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin on recordings for the follow-up to Bleach. During the sessions, Cobain and Novoselic became disenchanted with Channing’s drumming, and Channing expressed frustration at not being actively involved in songwriting. Not long after the sessions were complete, Channing left the band. After a few weeks with Dale Crover of the Melvins filling in, Nirvana hired Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters, with whom they recorded the song “Sliver”. A few weeks later, Buzz Osborne of the Melvins introduced them to Dave Grohl, who was looking for a new band following the sudden break-up of D.C. hardcore punks Scream. A few days after arriving in Seattle, Novoselic and Cobain auditioned Grohl, with Novoselic later stating, “We knew in two minutes that he was the right drummer.”
Disenchanted with Sub Pop and with the Smart Studios sessions generating interest, Nirvana decided to look for a deal with a major record label. Following repeated recommendations by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, Nirvana signed to DGC Records in 1990. The band subsequently began recording its first major label album, Nevermind. They were offered a number of producers to choose from, but ultimately held out for Butch Vig. Rather than recording at Vig’s Madison studio as they had in 1990, they shifted to Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California. For two months, the band worked through a variety of songs in their catalog. Some of the songs, including “In Bloom” and “Breed”, had been in the band’s repertoire for years, while others, including “On a Plain” and “Stay Away”, lacked finished lyrics until mid-way through the recording process. After the recording sessions were completed, Vig and the band set out to mix the album. However, the recording sessions had run behind schedule and the resulting mixes were deemed unsatisfactory. Slayer mixer Andy Wallace was brought in to create the final mix. After the album’s release members of Nirvana expressed dissatisfaction with the polished sound the mixer had given Nevermind.
Initially, DGC Records was hoping to sell 250,000 copies of Nevermind, which was the same level they had achieved with Sonic Youth’s Goo. However, the album’s first single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” quickly gained momentum, thanks in part to significant airplay of the song’s music video on MTV. As they toured Europe during late 1991, the band found that the shows were dangerously oversold, that television crews were becoming a constant presence onstage, and that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was almost omnipresent on radio and music television.By Christmas 1991, Nevermind was selling 400,000 copies a week in the US. On January 11, 1992, the album reached number one on the Billboard album charts, displacing Michael Jackson’s album Dangerous. The album also topped the charts in numerous countries worldwide. The month Nevermind reached number one, Billboard proclaimed, “Nirvana is that rare band that has everything: critical acclaim, industry respect, pop radio appeal, and a rock-solid college/alternative base.”
In February 1992, following the band’s Pacific Rim tour, Cobain married Hole frontwoman Courtney Love in Hawaii. Love gave birth to a daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, the following August. Citing exhaustion, the band decided not to undertake another U.S. tour in support of Nevermind, instead opting to make only a handful of performances later that year. Just days after Frances Bean’s birth, Nirvana performed one of its best-known concerts, headlining at the Reading Festival in England. Amid rumors about Cobain’s health and the possibility the band might break up, Cobain entered the stage in a wheelchair as a practical joke, then proceeded to get up and join the rest of the band in tearing through an assortment of old and new material. Dave Grohl related in 2005 on the radio program Loveline that the band was genuinely concerned beforehand that the show would be a complete disaster, given all that had happened in the months leading up to the show. Instead, the performance ended up being one of the most memorable of their career.
Less than two weeks later, Nirvana performed at the MTV Video Music Awards. During the first rehearsal for the show, Cobain announced that they were going to play a new song during the broadcast, and the band rehearsed “Rape Me”. MTV’s executives were appalled by the song, and, according to show producer Amy Finnerty, the executives believed that the song was about them. They insisted that the band could not play “Rape Me”, even threatening to throw Nirvana off the show and stop airing their videos entirely. After a series of intense discussions, MTV and Nirvana agreed that the band would play “Lithium”, their latest single. When the band began their performance, Cobain strummed and sang the first few bars of “Rape Me”, one last jab at MTV’s executives, before breaking into “Lithium”. Near the end of the song, frustrated that his amp had stopped functioning, Novoselic decided to toss his bass into the air for dramatic effect. He misjudged the landing, and the bass ended up bouncing off his forehead, causing him to stumble off the stage in a daze. As Cobain trashed their equipment, Grohl ran to the mic and began yelling “Hi, Axl!” repeatedly, referring to Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose, with whom the band and Courtney had had a bizarre and bellicose encounter before the show.
Nirvana released Incesticide, a collection of rarities and B-sides, in December 1992. Many of Nirvana’s radio sessions and unreleased early recordings were starting to circulate via trading circles and illegal bootlegs, so the album served to circumvent the bootleggers. The album contained songs from previously released singles and EPs, including “Sliver” and “Dive”, as well as material from the band’s sessions for the BBC, including “Been a Son”, “Aneurysm”, and covers of songs by The Vaselines and Devo.
For 1993’s In Utero, the band brought in producer Steve Albini, well-known for his work on the Pixies album Surfer Rosa. As Nevermind had brought in a new audience of listeners who had little or no experience with the alternative, obscure, or experimental bands Nirvana saw as their forebears, bringing in Albini appeared to be a deliberate move on Nirvana’s part to give the album a raw, less-polished sound. For example, one song on In Utero featuring long periods of shrill feedback noise was titled, ironically, “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” (in the industry, a “radio-friendly unit shifter” describes an “ideal” album: one capable of heavy radio play and ultimately selling many copies, or “units”). However, Cobain insisted that Albini’s sound was simply the one he had always wanted Nirvana to have: a “natural” recording without layers of studio trickery. The sessions with Albini were productive and notably quick, and the album was recorded and mixed in two weeks for a cost of $25,000 at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota.
Several weeks after the completion of the recording sessions, stories ran in the Chicago Tribune and Newsweek that quoted sources claiming DGC considered the album “unreleasable”. As a result, fans began to believe that the band’s creative vision might be compromised by their label. While the stories about DGC shelving the album were untrue, the band actually was unhappy with certain aspects of Albini’s mixes. Specifically, they thought the bass levels were too low, and Cobain felt that “Heart-Shaped Box” and “All Apologies” did not sound “perfect”. Longtime R.E.M. producer Scott Litt was called in to help remix those two songs, with Cobain adding additional instrumentation and backing vocals.
In Utero debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart in September 1993. Time’s Christopher John Farley wrote in his review of the album, “Despite the fears of some alternative-music fans, Nirvana hasn’t gone mainstream, though this potent new album may once again force the mainstream to go Nirvana.” Although commercially successful, the album did not achieve the same success as Nevermind. That fall, Nirvana embarked on its first major tour of the United States in two years. For the tour, the band added Pat Smear of the punk rock band Germs as a second guitarist.
Final months and Cobain’s death
In November 1993, Nirvana performed for MTV Unplugged. The band opted to stay away from their most recognizable songs, playing only two of their hits, “All Apologies” and “Come as You Are”. Grohl later related, “We knew we didn’t want to do an acoustic version of Teen Spirit. … That would’ve been horrendously stupid.” The setlist also included a few relatively obscure covers, with members of the Meat Puppets joining the band for covers of three of their songs. While rehearsals for the show had been problematic, MTV Unplugged producer Alex Coletti noted that the actual taping went exceedingly well, with every song performed in one take and with the complete set lasting under an hour, which were both unusual for Unplugged sessions. Following the band’s set-ending performance of Lead Belly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”, Coletti tried to convince the band to perform an encore. “Kurt said, ‘I can’t top that last song.’ And when he said that, I backed off. ‘Cause I knew he was right.” The band’s performance debuted on MTV on December 14, 1993.
In early 1994, the band embarked on a European tour. Following a tour stop at Terminal Eins in Munich, Germany, on March 1, Cobain was diagnosed with bronchitis and severe laryngitis. The next night’s show, at the same venue, was canceled. In Rome, on the morning of March 4, Love found Cobain unconscious in their hotel room and he was rushed to the hospital. A doctor from the hospital told a press conference that Cobain had reacted to a combination of prescription Rohypnol and alcohol. The rest of the tour was canceled, including a planned leg in the UK.
In the ensuing weeks, Cobain’s heroin addiction resurfaced. An intervention was organized, and Cobain was convinced to admit himself into drug rehabilitation. After less than a week in rehabilitation, Cobain climbed over the wall of the facility and took a plane back to Seattle. A week later, on Friday, April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head at his Seattle home, effectively dissolving Nirvana.
In the years following Nirvana’s disbanding, both surviving members remained musically active. Not long after Cobain’s death, Grohl recorded a series of demos that eventually became the debut album for Foo Fighters. Foo Fighters became Grohl’s main project, releasing several commercially successful records over the next decade. Beyond Foo Fighters, Grohl also drummed for numerous bands, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Mike Watt, Queens of the Stone Age, Tenacious D, Nine Inch Nails, and Killing Joke. He also recorded an album of metal songs featuring many of his favorite early-80s metal singers under the name Probot.
After the end of Nirvana, Novoselic formed Sweet 75. Later, he founded Eyes Adrift with Curt Kirkwood (formerly of the Meat Puppets) and Bud Gaugh (formerly of Sublime). He also performed in a one-off band called the No WTO Combo with Kim Thayil of Soundgarden and Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys that coincided with the WTO Meeting of 1999. In December 2006, Novoselic replaced bass player Bruno DeSmartas in the band Flipper for a UK/Ireland tour and several US shows. Novoselic also became a political activist, founding the political action committee JAMPAC to support musicians’ rights. In 2004, he released a book titled Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix This Broken Democracy, which covered his musical past as well as his political endeavors.
Several Nirvana albums have been released since Cobain’s death. The first came in November 1994 with the release of the band’s performance for MTV Unplugged, MTV Unplugged in New York. Two weeks after the release of Unplugged in New York, a video compilation of Nirvana performances, titled Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!, was released. Cobain himself had compiled a significant part of the video, which documented much of the Nevermind tour. The original intention was to release the MTV Unplugged set in a double-disc package, along with a second disc of live electric material to balance the acoustic set. However, for the two surviving band members, sorting through Nirvana recordings so soon after Cobain’s passing became too emotionally overwhelming. The live disc, a compilation of Nirvana concert recordings, finally saw release in October 1996, titled From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah.
In August 1997, online music news website Wall of Sound reported that Grohl and Novoselic were organizing a box set of Nirvana rarities. Four years later, the band’s label announced that the box set was complete and would see release in September to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the release of Nevermind. However, shortly before the release date, Love filed an injunction to stop the box set’s release and sued Grohl and Novoselic, claiming that Cobain’s former band mates were hijacking Nirvana’s legacy for their own personal interests. What followed was a protracted legal battle over the ownership of Nirvana’s music that lasted for more than a year.
Much of the legal wrangling centered on a single unreleased song, “You Know You’re Right”, the band’s final studio recording. Grohl and Novoselic wanted to include the song on the box set, essentially releasing all of the rarities at one time. Love, however, argued that the song was more important than just a generic “rarity”, and should be included on a single-disc greatest hits compilation. After more than a year of often public and sometimes bizarre legal maneuvering, the parties settled, agreeing on the immediate release of the greatest hits package including “You Know You’re Right”, titled simply Nirvana. In turn, Love agreed to donate cassette demos recorded by Cobain for use on the box set.
The compilation album, Nirvana, was released on October 29, 2002. On top of “You Know You’re Right”, the album contained hit singles from their three studio albums as well as several alternate mixes and recordings of familiar Nirvana songs. The box set, With the Lights Out, was finally released in November 2004. The release contained a vast array of early Cobain demos, rough rehearsal recordings, and live tracks recorded throughout the band’s history. A best-of-the-box compilation titled Sliver: The Best of the Box was released in late 2005. The CD compiled nineteen tracks from the box set plus three previously unreleased tracks, including a version of the song “Spank Thru” from the 1985 Fecal Matter demo tape. In a 2002 interview with Jim DeRogatis, Love described the countless rehearsal tapes, demos, and bedroom recordings that were left behind after Cobain’s death.
In April 2006, Love announced that she had arranged to sell twenty-five percent of her stake in the Nirvana song catalog in a deal estimated at $50 million. The share of Nirvana’s publishing was purchased by Primary Wave Music, which was founded by Larry Mestel, a former CEO of Virgin Records. In an accompanying statement, Love sought to assure Nirvana’s fanbase that the music would not simply be licensed to the highest bidder, noting, “We are going to remain very tasteful and true to the spirit of Nirvana while taking the music to places it has never been before.”
Further releases have since been made. This includes releasing Live! Tonight! Sold Out!! on DVD in 2006. Furthermore, a full uncut DVD version of MTV Unplugged in New York was released in 2007. Live At Reading, the band’s 1992 performance at Reading Festival, is set to be released on both CD and DVD in November 2009. A double 12-inch vinyl version will also be released.
Velvet Revolver is a hard rock supergroup consisting of former Guns N’ Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, alongside Dave Kushner formerly of punk band Wasted Youth. Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland was Velvet Revolver’s lead singer since their formation until parting ways with the band in 2008. In 2004, the band achieved commercial success with their debut album, Contraband. Critics initially described Velvet Revolver as a mere combination of Stone Temple Pilots and Guns N’ Roses, and criticized the band for a “disconnection” between Scott Weiland and the rest of the band. With their single “Slither”, they won the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.
The band released Libertad in 2007, driven by the release of the single “She Builds Quick Machines”, and embarked on a tour with Alice in Chains. In April 2008, Weiland parted ways with Velvet Revolver and has since reunited with Stone Temple Pilots. Velvet Revolver has been on indefinite hiatus since April and in November of 2008, the band was released by their record label RCA Records at their request to allow them “complete freedom to go through whatever process it would take to accomplish” replacing Weiland. Although the band is still in ‘limbo’, the band members remain optimistic about its future.
The trio played again at a bar concert for musician Randy Castillo in 2002. They subsequently decided to form a new band after recognizing that their musical relationship was still very much intact. Izzy Stradlin was initially invited to be the band’s rhythm guitarist, but he declined due to his unwillingness to work with a lead singer and his aversion to the life on the road (although Stradlin has rehearsed & written with the band & occasionally played with them on tour). The band recruited guitarist Dave Kushner, who had previously played with Dave Navarro and Wasted Youth. Kushner had attended school with Slash and had worked with McKagan in Loaded, the band in which he played before joining Velvet Revolver. The quartet were referred to under the temporary name “The Project”. During this time they wrote several songs such as ‘Embrace’ and ‘Vengeful God.’
The quartet then set about auditioning a lead singer, with VH1 filming the recruitment process. The resulting documentary was aired as VH1 Inside Out: The Rise of Velvet Revolver. A number of lead singers auditioned, including Canadian Todd Kerns (formerly of Age of Electric), Josh Todd (of Buckcherry), Michael Matijevic (of Steelheart), Sebastian Bach (formerly of Skid Row), Kelly Shaefer (of Atheist/Neurotica) and Travis Meeks (of Days of the New). Myles Kennedy (of Alter Bridge and formerly of The Mayfield Four) declined an invitation to audition because he didn’t like the band’s lifestyle and also to focus more on other projects. Reportedly, singers Mike Patton (formerly of Faith No More) and Ian Astbury (The Cult) were also approached early in the process, but both declined the offer. Scott Weiland had become friends with McKagan (via their respective wives) and had once played on the same bill as Kushner. Originally Weiland was wanted by the band but due to STP still touring he declined. After the band heard about STP’s split in 2003, they were quick to get Weiland involved. Once he heard the material and offered his services as the lead singer, the band was formed.
According to Slash’s autobiography, Scott Weiland suggested the name “Black Velvet Revolver”, combining something intimate with something violent, after Slash suggested Revolver. He had liked the word Revolution, which he saw in the credits of a movie. From Black Velvet Revolver, they arrived at simply “Velvet Revolver.” This was done while walking to the viewing room, at Universal Studios, to see Hulk. They were considering lending a song (Set Me Free) to the soundtrack.
Velvet Revolver recorded its first track “Set Me Free” for the soundtrack for the movie Hulk in 2003. The band also recorded a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Money” which is featured in the movie The Italian Job. The band played its first live gig at the El Rey in Los Angeles in June 2003. It recorded its first album, Contraband,
in the latter part of 2003 with recording complicated by Weiland’s court appearances for drug charges and his subsequent sentencing to undertake rehabilitation.
The marketing campaign for Velvet Revolver in the run-up to the release of the first album was profiled as part of the Frontline (PBS) program The Way the Music Died, which included interviews with the band members and producers.
As of August 2005, Contraband had sold more than 2 million copies in the United States, and the rigorous touring in support of the album reached global scales. The band toured both the United States and Europe twice, while also performing in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The CD had SunnComm’s MediaMax DRM rootkit on it, exposing users to a computer security vulnerability. Velvet Revolver performed at Live 8, playing “Do It For the Kids”, “Fall to Pieces” and “Slither.” However, only “Fall to Pieces” appears on the Live 8 DVD. In 2005, a part of Contraband’s “Dirty Little Thing” was inserted in xXx: State Of The Union. The band also recorded a new song entitled “Come On, Come In” for the 2005 movie Fantastic Four.
During 2005, the group announced that a second album was in the works. Scott Weiland announced at the 2005 Radio Music Awards that it would be a concept album, and would be less single-driven than its previous effort; but later in the summer of 2006, Matt Sorum dismissed the claim that it would be a concept album. In December 2006, the band set Libertad (Spanish for “liberty”) as the working title of the album. In September 2006, Matt Sorum confirmed via Camp Freddy Radio on Indie 103.1 that the band had recently signed a deal with Rick Rubin to produce the new album. However, on his website, Sorum later claimed that former Stone Temple Pilots producer Brendan O’Brien would be producing the album.
On June 21, 2007, Velvet Revolver performed in a concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., that was streamed live via MSN Music. On June 23, 2007, four songs off the album were available in full stream audio onto the internet ten days before retail on BestBuy’s website. It was announced by WWE that “Let It Roll” would be the official theme song for the 2007 Diva quest Search. “Slither” “She Builds Quick Machines,” and “Messages” appear in a downloadable Velvet Revolver pack in the videogame Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.. “She Builds Quick Machines” was on the game NASCAR 08.
On their official website, Velvet Revolver gave a chance for fans to vote in a poll for the third single off of Libertad. “Get Out the Door” won with 53% of the votes, winning over “Let It Roll” and “She Mine”. “Get Out the Door” was released for airplay on January 28, 2008. MTV has recently reported that Slash told Illinois’ Northwest Herald that the band will begin working on its next LP in April 2008. Slash is also planning to record a solo album sometime in the next year or two. They began a tour of Australia, Europe and the United States, starting with a concert in Chicago on January 24, 2008. According to BlabberMouth.net on February 7, Scott Weiland voluntarily entered a rehab facility. This led to Velvet Revolver cancelling their Australian tour which had already been postponed for 2 months. They returned to the stage on March 8, 2008 in Dubai for the Desert Rock Festival.
Split with Weiland (2008–present)
Weiland stated on March 20, 2008 at Velvet Revolver’s show in Glasgow that this would be the band’s final tour. Matt Sorum posted a message on his website the next day discussing the band’s situation and said, “You could tell who was unhappy last night,” and “some people in this business don’t realize how great of a life they have.” Weiland responded by telling Blabbermouth.net, “Well, first of all, the state of my family affairs is really none of his business, since he is too immature to have a real relationship, let alone children. So don’t attempt to stand in a man’s shoes when you haven’t walked his path.”
At the time Slash hinted in an interview with Classic Rock magazine that, contrary to Weiland’s assertions, Velvet Revolver will continue beyond its current tour. When asked “Will Scott be singing?”, Slash replied “I have no comment on that”, and laughed.
It was announced on April 1 that Weiland had officially parted ways with Velvet Revolver. Later that month, Weiland performed with Stone Temple Pilots for the first time since 2002, kicking off their reunion tour.
Matt Sorum said on May 26, 2008 in an interview “that the band was definitely not breaking up and that they looked for a singer before and they can do it again.” Bassist Duff McKagan has recently stated that the band has been working on new material inspired by the recent drama with Weiland.
Velvet Revolver have been on indefinite hiatus since April 2008 and sought audition tapes through the internet of prospective singers. In summer 2008 Lenny Kravitz was rumored to be in the studio with VR as a possible singer, but Kravitz denied the story and was on tour with his band during the time. Royston Langdon, of Spacehog, was also rumored as a possible singer, but it was denied by the band. Chester Bennington of Linkin Park was another rumored singer, having already performed the Guns n’ Roses song “Paradise City” with the band, although, as stated by Classic Rock magazine “[Chester] already has a job”. In November 2008, the band asked to be released from their record label Sony BMG/RCA Records in order to pursue a new frontman on the band’s own terms. At NAMM 2009 Duff McKagan appeared at both the RotoSound and Dunlop booths, at the end of a long day, McKagan sat down with MusicRadar for an exclusive video interview. They discussed a variety of topics, the most pressing being Velvet Revolver’s ongoing search for a new singer. McKagan smiled and hinted that the candidates have been narrowed down and that an announcement could be made very soon. The following month bassist Duff McKagan said “It’s down to a couple of guys,” and the band was “weeks away” from announcing their new singer.
Rumors of Guns N’ Roses reuniting arose in late 2008 when Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose disappeared without promoting the latest Guns N’ Roses album. It was stated that Axl had been in secret talks with the original Guns N’ Roses members for a reunion tour. However, Axl Rose has done a couple of interviews since and seems strongly against a reunion tour; also, the touring lineup for the upcoming branch of the Chinese Democracy Tour has been announced. Because of this, speculation for a reunion tour has gone.
Velvet Revolver has been in limbo since April 2008. Since then they have been focusing their individual projects and auditioning for new frontmen, however, the band has had no luck.
On July 15th, 2009, Slash stated through his Twitter account that a scheduled Velvet Revolver meeting “went great.” He also went on to say that no new singer had been announced, but “the dream is alive and well.”
In 2009, the members of the band have been busy with their solo projects. Duff McKagan has recorded an album with his band Loaded whereas Slash has been working on his first solo album Slash & Friends.
Influence on popular culture
The Beatles’ influence on popular culture was—and remains—immense. In 1999, The Beatles were collectively included in Time magazine’s Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century. Former Rolling Stone associate editor Robert Greenfield said, “People are still looking at Picasso. People are still looking at artists who broke through the constraints of their time period to come up with something that was unique and original. In the form that they worked in, in the form of popular music, no one will ever be more revolutionary, more creative and more distinctive than The Beatles were.” From the 1920s, the United States had dominated popular entertainment culture throughout the world, with the show business and superstars of Broadway, Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood and the music of Memphis, Tennessee. Known as the “Birthplace of the Blues”, the city of Memphis had led a musical evolution from blues in the 1920s, through rock and roll in the 1950s to, in the early 1960s, soul. British bands in the 1960s, among them The Beatles, aspired to emulate the sounds of Memphis musicians including Elvis Presley—without whom, according to Lennon, “there would not have been The Beatles”.
The Beatles, triggering the British Invasion, became a major new influence in the United States and internationally, establishing the popularity of British bands and inspiring the music of other bands worldwide — including those subsequently formed in Memphis. The Beatles redefined the album as something more than just a small number of hits padded out with “filler” tracks, and they were the originators in the United Kingdom of the now common practice of releasing video clips to accompany singles. They became the first entertainment act to stage a large stadium concert when they opened their 1965 North American tour at Shea Stadium. A large number of artists have acknowledged The Beatles as a musical influence or have had chart successes with covers of Beatles songs. The band also affected attitudes to fashion worldwide when in the 1960s there was widespread imitation of their haircuts and clothing. The arrival of The Beatles is seen in radio as a touchstone in music signalling an end to the rock-and-roll era of the 1950s. Program Directors like Rick Sklar of WABC in New York went as far as forbidding DJs from playing any “pre-Beatles” music.
Recreational drug use
During their periods of Hamburg residency between 1960 and 1962, The Beatles used Preludin both recreationally and to maintain their energy through all-night performances. Bob Dylan introduced them to cannabis during a 1964 visit to New York. In April 1965, Lennon and Harrison’s dentist spiked their coffee with LSD while they were his guests for dinner. The two later experimented with the drug voluntarily, joined by Starr on one occasion. McCartney was reluctant to try it, but eventually did so in 1966, and was the first Beatle to talk about it in the press, saying in June 1967 that he had taken it four times. Later in 1967, all four Beatles and Epstein added their names to a petition published as a full-page advertisement in The Times calling for the legalisation of cannabis, the release of all imprisoned because of possession, and research into the drug’s medical uses. The published petition had been signed by sixty-five people including “one Nobel laureate, two Members of Parliament, a dozen prominent physicians and clergymen, numerous writers and artists, and the four celebrated MBEs who, along with their manager Brian Epstein, had put up the money for the ad.”
The Beatles have sold more albums in the US than any other artist. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the all-time top-selling Hot 100 artists to celebrate the chart’s fiftieth anniversary, with The Beatles at number one. They are credited with six Diamond albums, as well as 24 Multi-Platinum albums, 39 Platinum albums and 45 Gold albums.
In 1963 Lennon and McCartney agreed to assign their song publishing rights to Northern Songs, a company created by music publisher Dick James. Administered by James’ company Dick James Music, Northern Songs went public in 1965 with Lennon and McCartney each holding 15% of the company’s shares and James and the company’s chairman, Charles Silver, holding a controlling 37.5%. After a failed attempt by Lennon and McCartney to buy the company, James and Silver sold Northern Songs in 1969 to British TV company Associated TeleVision (ATV), from which Lennon and McCartney received stock. Briefly owned by Australian business magnate Robert Holmes à Court, ATV Music was sold in 1985 to Michael Jackson for a reported $47 million (trumping a joint bid by McCartney and Yoko Ono), including the publishing rights to over 200 songs composed by Lennon and McCartney.
Jackson and Sony merged their music publishing businesses in 1995, becoming joint owners of most of the Lennon-McCartney songs recorded by The Beatles, although Lennon’s estate and McCartney still receive their respective shares of the royalties. Despite his ownership of most of the Lennon-McCartney publishing, Jackson only recorded one Lennon-McCartney composition, “Come Together”, which was featured in his film Moonwalker (1988) and album HIStory (1995). Although the Jackson-Sony catalogue includes most of The Beatles’ greatest hits, four of their earliest songs were published by one of EMI’s publishing companies Ardmore and Beechwood before Lennon and McCartney signed with James, and McCartney succeeded in personally acquiring the publishing rights to “Love Me Do”, “Please Please Me”, “P.S. I Love You”, and “Ask Me Why”. Harrison and Starr allowed their songwriting contracts with Northern Songs to lapse in 1968, signing with Apple Publishing instead. Harrison created Harrisongs, which still owns the rights to his post-1967 songs such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Something”, while Starr’s Startling Music holds the rights to his own post-1967 songs recorded by The Beatles, “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Octopus’s Garden”.
- Please Please Me (1963)
- With The Beatles (1963)
- A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
- Beatles for Sale (1964)
- Help! (1965)
- Rubber Soul (1965)
- Revolver (1966)
- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
- Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
- The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968)
- Yellow Submarine (1969)
- Abbey Road (1969)
- Let It Be (1970)
In 1987, EMI released all of The Beatles’ studio albums on CD worldwide, and Apple Corps decided to standardise The Beatles catalogue throughout the world, choosing to release the twelve original studio albums as released in the United Kingdom, as well as the Magical Mystery Tour US album, which had been released as a shorter Double EP in the UK. All the remaining Beatles material from the singles and EPs from 1962–1970 which had not been issued on the original British studio albums were gathered on the Past Masters double album compilation:
- Past Masters, Volume One (1988)
- Past Masters, Volume Two (1988)
The US album configurations from 1964–65 were released as box sets in 2004 and 2006 (The Capitol Albums Volume 1 and Volume 2 respectively); these included both stereo and mono versions based on the mixes that were prepared for vinyl at the time of their original 1960s releases in the United States.
2009 CD remasters
On 9 September 2009, The Beatles’ entire back catalogue was reissued following an extensive digital remastering process that lasted four years. Stereo editions of all twelve original UK studio albums, along with Magical Mystery Tour and a combined two-CD set of Past Masters, were released on compact disc both individually and as a box set. A second collection included all mono tracks. In Mojo magazine‘s review, Danny Eccleston writes, “Ever since The Beatles first emerged on CD in 1987, there have been complaints about the sound”, saying that the original vinyl has had significant advantages over the CDs in clarity and dynamism. “Compare Paperback Writer/Rain on crackly 45, with its weedy Past Masters CD version, and the case is closed.” Prior to the release of the 2009 remasters, Abbey Road Studios had invited Mojo reviewers to hear a sample of the four-year work’s achievement, telling the magazine, “You’re in for a shock.” In his release-day review of the full product, Eccleston reported that “brilliantly, that’s still how it feels a month later.” For a limited time after the release date, a brief documentary was included on each CD album.
Digital music licensing
The Beatles are one of the few major artists whose recorded catalogue is not available through online music services such as iTunes and Napster. Apple Corps’ dispute with Apple, Inc. (the owners of iTunes) over the use of the name “Apple” has played a particular part in this, although in November 2008 McCartney said the main obstacle was that EMI, in their negotiations with Apple Corps, “want something we’re not prepared to give them.” In March 2009, The Guardian reported that, “the prospect of an independent, Beatles-specific digital music store” has been raised by Dhani Harrison, quoted by the newspaper as recently saying, “We’re losing money every day… So what do you do? You have to have your own delivery system, or you have to do a good deal with [Apple, Inc. CEO] Steve Jobs… [He] says that a download is worth 99 cents, and we disagree.”