10 Musicians That Had Beef With Nirvana

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Nirvana’s explosion in popularity changed the complexion of rock music forever. 

That seismic shift in rock music meant the musicians that didn’t adapt were left out. 

As cool as Kurt Cobain was to his numerous fans, he minced words with other bands, and that led to problems. Although many legendary bands carried on outside of grunge, some musicians had a lot of issues with what Nirvana was doing.

From the members of the band getting into infights to jilted hair metal bands holding grudges, these are a few examples of the kind of bands that had beef with Nirvana. 

Kurt Cobain may have helped bring alternative rock to the mainstream, but these artists would have been just fine if this music had stayed underground.

Pearl Jam

The Seattle grunge scene was never one big happy family.  

While Kurt did have love for bands like Mudhoney and Soundgarden, he always hated Pearl Jam. After Nirvana blew up, Kurt thought that his fellow grunge rockers were the more corporate version of what grunge was, not caring for the kind of long guitar solos that Mike McCready would play. 

Despite not having cred in Kurt’s mind, he and Eddie actually became friends later down the line, with Kurt saying that he thought Vedder was a great guy and even slow danced with him underneath the stage at the 1992 MTV Awards. 

Pearl Jam may have been a great band for the time, but they were not authentically alternative to Kurt’s liking.

Kurt Cobain

Whenever a band blows up, there are always a few people who think they sold out. Once in a while, it’s even the band themselves. 

Before Nevermind was a certified classic, Kurt tore into his masterpiece, thinking that it was closer to a Motley Crue record than punk rock and thinking everything sounded too slick. 

Kurt was uncomfortable with fame, not wanting to be looked at as a voice of a generation and growing to hate ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ saying that he wanted to throw his guitar down and walk away whenever he played the song. 

His music may have touched millions of people, but it must have been difficult for Kurt to never actually get what he was hearing in his head onto a record.

Via Guitar World 

Axl Rose

When hair metal started to die out, Guns N’ Roses were the only band left standing. 

That said, Axl Rose was never welcome in rock’s new era. After Kurt declined Axl’s offer to tour together, Cobain called out Guns’ lyrics for being sexist and didn’t understand how they got so popular. 

Axl wasn’t going to let that stand, including an appearance at the MTV Awards when he almost physically confronted Kurt for trash-talking. 

Axl might like to lash out all he wants, but Kurt brushing off every comment Axl made just made the GNR frontman look like a high school bully. 

Courtney Love

After Kurt died, the rest of the Nirvana family grew distant. 

Once Nirvana unearthed ‘You Know You’re Right,’ Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love threw a wrench into things, taking the rest of the band to court. 

Settling out of court, Courtney took to tearing Dave Grohl through the mud every chance she could, saying that Kurt never liked Dave when he was in the band and asking a fan holding up a Kurt Cobain sign at a Hole show to ‘go see the f*cking Foo Fighters and do that shit.” 

Moving on after your husband’s suicide was never going to be easy, but Courtney was content to push away anyone that has to do with Nirvana. 

Noel Gallagher

When grunge was waning, Noel Gallagher was putting together his own band in England. 

While Noel had talked about being a fan of Nirvana, he took issue with the depressive attitude that Kurt had towards the end, writing the Oasis song ‘Live Forever’ as a counterargument to In Utero. 

When discussing it later, Noel said the idea came from Nirvana’s song ‘I Hate Myself and Want to Die,’ saying, 

“Well, I’m not having that. As much as I like him and all that, you can’t have a rich rock star coming over here on smack saying that they hate themselves. That’s fucking rubbish.” 

Given his history of tearing musicians through the mud, it’s not like Noel is this bright light of positivity or anything.


Malcolm Young

Trends come and go in rock, but AC/DC keeps trucking throughout. 

They were not about to change once grunge hit, and Malcolm Young actually had some choice words for Kurt back in the day. When being interviewed in 1993, Malcolm was a bit miffed by Cobain’s appearance saying that he was “a blond feller. A bit of a poser.” 

Though he did say that his daughter liked Nirvana, the whole grunge aesthetic was lost on him. If you dissect Kurt though, he was never the poser type, looking to be his authentic self in interviews and not wanting to go along with the corporate rock that was happening a few years earlier.

If Malcolm really wanted to talk about posers in rock and roll, he would have had better luck with the tail end of hair metal than the golden child of grunge. 

Via Rock and Roll Garage

Billy Corgan

Around when Nevermind was first being cut, Smashing Pumpkins was becoming the biggest alternative band not from Seattle. 

Billy Corgan was absolutely pissed when he heard the first cut of Nevermind. After working with Butch Vig on Gish and Siamese Dream, Billy thought that Nirvana had copied his guitar sound saying, “The first time I heard ‘Nevermind,’ I looked at Butch Vig – we were sitting next to a lake on a July 4th day circa 1991 — and I said, ‘Motherfucker, you stole my guitar sound!’ So that’s all I’ll say about that.” 

When you hear the finished product though, both of the tones sound worlds apart, with Kurt going for a more punk-driven tone than what Billy eventually got. Then again, Kurt was always about performing from the heart instead of the gear. 


Kurt was an artist more than anything, and he ended up having a distinct love of the Quay Brothers. 

Since they rose to prominence with different stop motion animations, Kurt was pissed when he saw that Tool’s Adam Jones had a similar design in mind for the video for ‘Sober.’ When Kurt was shown the video back in 1993, he was not holding anything back saying, “Oh God, I hope they get sued! It is such a ripoff, it’s a shameless ripoff! I mean, I wanted a Brothers Quay style, but I didn’t want anything like that. That was terrible!” 

While The Quay Brothers never pressed legal action, Kurt was more pissed about the video to even care about what Tool had to offer musically. Kurt may have wanted integrity in art, but he also missed out on Tool’s most ferocious album.

Via Ultimate Guitar 

Jay Jay French

As great as Nirvana was at the time, they wiped out a lot of careers. 

Even though Twisted Sister had long since retired, Jay Jay French talked about not being that into the band when he first saw them saying, 

“I saw them play on SNL and thought they sucked. I was like ‘this band can’t play.’ That was my gut reaction because we came from the bar scene where we had to be great every single night. When I saw bands that got up there and looked stoned like they didn’t care, I had no respect for that.” 

Jay Jay also mentioned the moment when he realized that grunge was taking over saying, “I called Vito [Bratta, from White Lion] and he goes ‘I haven’t touched my guitar in 9 months. I heard ‘Teen Spirit’ and realized that it was all over.” Twisted Sister may have made metalheads out of millions of fans, but Nirvana was the changing tide that no one was ready for. 

Gene Simmons

Nirvana’s status as a canonically important rock band is undeniable. 

According to Gene Simmons though, Nirvana doesn’t warrant being next to the Beatles or the Stones. When talking about some of the greatest bands that he had ever seen, he singled out Nirvana as not worthy of legendary status saying, 

“Kurt Cobain – no, that’s one or two records. That’s not enough. What, just cause you died makes you an icon? No.” In Gene’s mind, he singled out bands like KISS as the real icons, thinking that Nirvana shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith. 

It’s hard to see Gene give flowers to any band not named KISS, but to dismiss Nirvana is a little silly. 

Via Ultimate Guitar

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