How Much Do You Know About Nirvana?

By: Teresa McGlothlin
Image: DGC

About This Quiz

During the '90s, a little band from Washington took the world by storm. Led by the eccentric and fame-loathing Kurt Cobain, Nirvana's songs remain timeless classics filling up airwaves across the world. With their sound, they defined a genre and flew through the charts. You might think you are an ultimate superfan, but how much do you really know about them? 

As we rock through this quiz, we will put your knowledge of Nirvana to the test. We will ask about the band's formation, their songs, and the individual accomplishments of each band member. Break out your deepest '90s trivia well for this one, and we'll let you know how you did at the end. 

From grungy guitar riffs to lyrics that could rip out your heart, Nirvana left a mark on music like few other bands. Their loud-quiet-loud approach to music comes from their individual influences and band they considered their peers at the time. Your knowledge of them will be put to the test, but you'll leave this quiz ready to put on your headphones and sing along. 

How much do you really know about Nirvana? Once you've finished answering the questions we present, you'll know for sure! 

What name did Nirvana perform under for a brief moment?

Before deciding on the name Nirvana, the band appeared as Ted Ed Fred during their early years. Other names that were considered include Skid Row and Pen Cap Chew. Cobain decided on Nirvana because he wanted a name that sounded more serene than the music.

How did Kurt Cobain spell his name in the early days?

In an effort to remove himself from his music, Kurt Cobain used the misspelling of Kurdt Cobain during early credits. It was one of many small efforts to distance himself from his impending fame.

Which song did MTV refuse to let Nirvana play live?

During the 1992 VMA's, MTV refused to let Nirvana play the song "Rape Me." Fearing controversy, the network asked the band to choose another song.

What color dress did Kurt Cobain wear on the band's Headbanger's Ball debut?

Playing with the show's name, Kurt Cobain wore a yellow ballgown for his appearance on Headbanger's Ball. He topped off the look with black sunglasses.

What year did the band release From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah?

Although From The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah was ready to be released in 1994, it was not released until 1996. The remaining two band members did not want to release it so soon after Kurt Cobain's death.

Which Nirvana member went on to form The Foo Fighters?

After Kurt Cobain's death in 1994, Dave Grohl formed The Foo Fighters. As of 2015, they have sold over 12 million albums in the United States.

What was the name of Nirvana's first single?

The Nirvana single was released by SubPop records under the title "Love Buzz." The song was a cover of the Dutch group Shocking Blue, and it was also covered by Bananarama.

When Kurt Cobain saw himself on television for the first time, who did he call?

After seeing himself on MTV's 120 Minutes, Kurt Cobain called his mother. At the time, he was staying at The Roger Smith Hotel in New York City.

When Kurt Cobain dropped out of high school, what job did he take?

When Kurt Cobain found out that he did not have enough credits to graduate from Weatherwax High School, he dropped out. Shortly after, he took at job as a janitor at the very same school.

Which singer inspired the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit?"

During a late night after party, Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna spray painted the words "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit" on his bedroom wall. She was referencing the kind of deodorant that Cobain's girlfriend wore.

What did Kurt Cobain name his cat?

Kurt Cobain was a true animal lover. His pets included a cat named Melvin, a rat named Kitty, and he was known to own a few turtles, too.

Which member of Soundgarden played with early versions of Nirvana?

Before becoming a member of Soundgarden, Jason Everman played guitar with Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. It is said that Kurt Cobain and Everman couldn't get along because their personalities were so similar.

Where did Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic meet?

Although the pair originally met in high school, they did not start making music together until they met at a Melvins practice a few years later. Since Nirvana, Novoselic has gone on to make many guest appearances including backing vocals for a few Foo Fighters tracks.

What was the name of the record label that released Bleach?

When Sub Pop released Bleach, it was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Founded in 1986, it has released artists like Mudhoney, Nirvana, and Sleater-Kinney.

What was the original title of "Heart-Shaped Box?"

After receiving a heart-shaped box from Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain changed one word in the song. By replacing the the word buried with the word locked, he changed the song's title from "Heart Shaped Coffin" to "Heart Shaped Box."

Who introduced Dave Grohl to the band?

In early formations of the band, Nirvana had five drummers before meeting Dave Grohl. Grohl and Cobain were introduced to one another by the Melvins' frontman, Buzz Osborne.

How much did Bleach cost to record?

When Bleach was recorded, Jason Everman was brought in to provide a second guitar. What he didn't know what that he would foot the $606 cost of recording the whole album.

Which band did Kurt Cobain often cite as an influence?

Kurt Cobain often said that he was heavily influenced by The Pixies. In fact, he has been quoted as saying that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a rip off of a song from The Pixies' album titled Come On Pilgrim.

Which drummer did Kurt Cobain date before recording Nevermind?

Shortly before Nevermind was recorded, Bikini Kill drummer Tobi Vail broke off her relationship with Kurt Cobain. Songs like "Drain You" and "Lounge Act" are said to have been written about her.

Which Nirvana song was written about a 14-year-old girl?

"Polly" was written after Kurt Cobain read a news article detailing the abduction of a 14-year-old girl. In the song, he used the name Polly to tie the girl to the image of a caged bird.

What was In Utero first set to be called?

In Utero was originally set to be named I Hate Myself and I Want to Die. However, the threat of lawsuits saw the band simply naming a song I Hate Myself and I Want to Die and renaming the album. In Utero.

What is Kurt Cobain's daughter's name?

When Courtney Love was pregnant with Francis, Kurt Cobain thought the ultrasound photos resembled a bean. Francis Bean Cobain gets her name from the actress Francis Farmer and her father's nickname.

What was the first concert Kurt Cobain attended?

Although Kurt Cobain's relatives claim his first concert was a Sammy Hagar show, Kurt claimed that it was The Melvins. The Melvins were vital in creating the Seattle sound, and they are still touring these days.

Which religion did Kurt Cobain follow?

When Kurt Cobain was young, his father sent him to live with a devout Christian friend. Although he joined the church, he later became a follower of Buddhism.

Who produced In Utero?

With $25,000 and two weeks, Steve Albini produced In Utero. Later, R.E.M. producer Scott Lott was brought in to remix two tracks from the album.

What song was also called "Autopilot?"

Also known as "Autopilot" and "On a Mountain," "You Know You're Right" was the eventual title listed in the liner notes. Nirvana songs had a tradition of having titles that evolved with the work.

Where did Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love get married?

On February 24, 1992, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were married on Waikiki Beach. In typical Kurt Cobain fashion, he attended the ceremony dressed in his pajamas.

Where did Kurt Cobain grow up?

During his youth, Kurt spent time in the small town of Aberdeen, Washington. A sign now welcomes visitors with the phrase "Come As You Are."

Which state did Dave Grohl grow up in?

Nirvana's final drummer, Dave Grohl, was born in Warren, Ohio. Although he grew up in Washington, D.C., the world of music was changed by his choice to relocate to the West Coast.

What did Kurt Cobain name his imaginary friend?

As a child, Kurt Cobain held a close relationship with an imaginary friend named Boddah. Sadly, a note addressed to Boddah was found alongside Cobain's body after his suicide.

Which band did Nirvana turn down the chance to accompany on a stadium tour?

In addition to turning down U2 and Metallica, Nirvana also refused to tour with Guns 'n Roses. The refusal led to a spat between Cobain and Axl Rose that ended with Cobain spitting on a piano he thought Axl Rose was going to play. Unfortunately, it was a piano meant for Elton John.

Which classic rock band is seen on the back of Nevermind?

On the back of the Nevermind cover, there's a collage created by Kurt Cobain. If you look closely, you can see a picture of the band KISS. Cobain's family says that KISS was one of his childhood favorites.

Why did Nirvana get kicked out of their own release party?

When Geffen records organized the release party for Nevermind, they never dreamed that their band would be kicked out. Members of Nirvana thought it would be funny to start a food fight with a ranch-filled watermelon. The venue's security kicked them out.

What was the name of the hidden track on Nevermind?

At the end of Nevermind, there's a hidden track called "Endless Nameless." Somehow, the track was accidentally left off of 50,000 copies, making them instant collector's items.

Which of The Foo Fighters' songs is about Kurt Cobain?

Although many speculate that a lot of The Foo Fighters' early songs are about Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl admits that the song "My Hero" was written in his honor. It was released in 1997, only four years after Cobain's death.

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