The 90s Metal Hero Who Was In The ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ Video

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When Nirvana assembled a group of disaffected teenagers on Aug. 17, 1991 at a sound stage in Culver City, California, what they shot that day would go on to make history and change the face of rock and roll forever.

Their debut album, Bleach, may have only achieved modest sales, but it garnered critical acclaim and created a strong underground following.

As Nevermind was nearing its release date, the band played a show on Aug. 15, 1991 at the Roxy on West Hollywood’s famed Sunset Strip. At the gig, attendees were handed flyers inviting them to be extras in the music video shoot.

“Nirvana needs YOU to appear in their upcoming music video, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,'” read the flier. “You should be 18 to 25 years old and adapt a high school persona, i.e. preppy, punk, nerd, jock …”

As hinted in the casting call, the video’s backdrop was indeed a high school. Drawing influence from movies like Over the Edge and the Ramones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, the core idea revolved around creating what could be described as a pep rally straight out of Dante’s Inferno. In this vision, an initially indifferent student body would gradually succumb to musical exhilaration.

As fate would have it, one of those people who got a flyer at the Roxy show was none other than former Fear Factory vocalist, the esteemed Burton C. Bell. As Bell once recalled:

“I was a big Nirvana fan for a long time, and I saw them a bunch of times on the ‘Bleach’ tour. After seeing them a few times, I’d run into them, a friend of mine actually played on the record, ‘Nevermind’ — he played cello on ‘Something In The Way’. So we had a copy of that record almost five months before it came out,” Bell told

“What happened was that, before the record came out, they had a show in L.A. at the Roxy, and after the show, they threw out flyers saying, ‘Hey, come to our video shoot.’ And so me and my roommate got the flyer with the directions on it and we went to the video shoot the next day. . . And what happened in the video wasn’t even supposed to happen. The audience just went nuts.”