The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced Monday that Seattle rock band Nirvana is one of seven 2014 inductees.
Nirvana is the fourth Seattle-related musical act to earn popular music’s highest honor, following Jimi Hendrix, the Ventures and Heart. Heart was inducted earlier this year in Los Angeles.
In a press release, Nirvana bass player Krist Novoselic said, “This is a great honor. Thank you to the people who nominated and voted for us. Thank you most of all to Kurt Cobain. And to everyone who’s kept Rock music going strong for 60 years and counting.”
The band’s drummer, and later Foo Fighters frontman, Dave Grohl, added, “For once… I’m speechless. From the basements, to the dingy clubs, to the broken down vans, to… the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’d like to thank the committee not only for this induction, but also for recognizing Nirvana for what we were: pure rock and roll.”
(For a Seattle Times photo gallery of Nirvana click here.)
The 2014 induction ceremony takes place in New York April 10, 2014, with tickets going on sale to the public in January. The inducted bands almost always perform, but with the 1994 death of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain — the Hall of Fame ceremony falls eerily the same week as the 20th anniversary of his death — it is unclear what will happen at the ceremony. Even when inducted bands play, they are often feted, or joined, by other superstar acts.
Joining Nirvana in the class of 2014 are Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt, all of whom have been eligible for years. Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first recording. Kiss has enjoyed that status for 15 years.
The Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland, but the voters include more than 700 musicians, critics and industry professionals who don’t always pick fan favorites. This year, for the second time, the Rock Hall took fan voting into account, and 1.4 million votes were cast online. Kiss won that balloting, generating 239,000 votes — 20,000 more than Nirvana.
But there was little doubt Nirvana would be a first-ballot shoo-in on the critic vote alone. The trio’s “Love Buzz” single came out in 1988. Though the vote is for a band’s entire catalog, it still also represents a nod to Seattle label Sub Pop, which released that single and the group’s first album “Bleach” — which was recorded for $606.17 — a year later. The band followed up in 1991 with its classic “Nevermind” album, which went on to sell more than 30 million copies and change the face of popular music.
As Bruce Pavitt, co-founder of Sub Pop Records put it, “This induction is a validation of indie culture, Sub Pop Records, and the Seattle scene that helped change the course of popular culture in the 90s.”
Nirvana’s first drummer, Aaron Burckhard, said Monday it was also a win for Aberdeen, where the band was formed. Burckhard was quick to note that Nirvana became the band’s name only after they had spent months trying out a dozen other monikers, including the decidedly-unlikely Rock Hall names Fecal Matter and Ted, Ed & Fred.
“I’m honored to have been part of a band that ignited a musical revolution,” Burckhard said Monday night. “I hope they let me jam!”
The 2014 induction will also see the E Street Band (of Bruce Springsteen fame) earn the Award for Musical Excellence. Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-performers.
For years the induction — which also will air on HBO in May — was held at the tiny Waldorf Astoria Ballroom in New York and was only attended by bands and insiders. But in the past few years, it has moved to different cities and more tickets have been made available to the general public.
For Nirvana fans wanting to attend, there’s even better news about this year’s induction. It’s at the 18,000-seat Barclay’s Center, in Brooklyn. The on-sale date has not yet been announced.
Though Nirvana is the first of the Seattle grunge-era bands to be inducted, it will most certainly not be the last. Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam all become eligible in coming years, and with fan voting bringing in a new element, there should continue to be new blood in a hall that was initially filled with rock’s pioneers.