20 years since his death, we celebrate his influence
Andrew Trendell
14:25 3rd April 2014

On 5 April, 1994, Kurt Cobain was found dead from a shotgun wound in his Seattle home. The world lost an irreplaceable talent that day - and a generation lost their spokesman. While he may have only left a relatively small body of work behind him, we are still feeling the reach of Nirvana's immeasurable influence today.

20 years on from Cobain's tragic death, we celebrate his legacy by looking at the big bands of today that he inspired - showing that while he may have burned out, he'll certainly never fade away.

From Lana Del Rey and Arcade Fire to Muse, Biffy Clyro, Brody Dalle and Interpol - here are just 13 of the countless modern artists that wouldn't exist if it weren't for Kurt Cobain. 

  • Lana Del Rey: Explaining her cover of In Utero's 'Heart-Shaped Box', the singer told Sirius FM: "When I was 11, I saw Kurt Cobain singing 'Heart Shaped Box' on MTV and it really stopped me dead in my tracks. I thought he was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. Even at a young age, I really related to his sadness." She added: "I never revisited his music again until I was about 17 or 18, and then when I did, it still meant just as much to me then. It's continued to be my primary inspiration - in terms of not wanting to compromise lyrically or sonically."

  • Biffy Clyro: Beyond the beards, occasional blonde hair, blistering vocals and insane stage antics, Nirvana's impact on Biffy is well-documented. When they first formed just after In Utero's release, The Biff admit that they sounded 'like every other band who'd ever heard Nirvana'. Speaking to FaceCulture in 2007, frontman Simon Neil said: "A band like Nirvana comes along and they're normal guys making music. Guns 'N' Roses were very close to my heart but Nirvana felt a lot more real, so when I saw them I thought 'I can play music, I can do this.'"

  • Fall Out Boy: Speaking to NME ahead of In Utero's anniversary, guitarist Joe Trohman said "I'm a big Nirvana fan, like in the 90's - it's definitely an era when we all grew up. That record - lyrically it's one of the most raw Nirvana records and sonically because Steve Albini engineered it. It definitely sounds like a loud record, it sounds like three guys playing in a room together."

  • Weezer: Rivers Cuomo has been very vocal about the impact of Nirvana when Weezer first formed. Kurt Cobain was even mentioned by name in the original draft for the lyrics to 'Susanne', but upon Cobain's death, the line was altered. When the song was brought back into the band's setlists in 2010, the original line ("Even Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose/When I call, you put them all on hold.") was restored.

  • Frank Turner: The alt-folk hero has never shyed away from love of Nirvana. He's covered their classics and even paid tribute to Cobain by controversially coming on stage at Reading & Leeds in a wheelchair - adding that Nirvana were "one of my favourite bands of all time".

  • Brody Dalle: Not only where Nirvana one of the first bands that inspired Dalle to form a band when she was 13, but when selecting a playlist for BlackBook once, couldn't choose between Nirvana classics 'Dive' or Negative Creep', adding: "Every song on these records make me wet. The first time I heard 'Dive', I wanted to fuck Kurt Cobain - I mean, meet him."

  • 30 Seconds To Mars: Jared Leto cites Nirvana as one of his biggest influences, telling Q Magazine: "Nirvana were a great band, Kurt was a genius songwriter with an unstoppable voice and they were three musicians that made a really unique sound - but there was something else that Nirvana gave, and that was the gift of permission for all of us to have the right to pick up an instrument and create."

  • Arcade Fire: In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2010, frontman Win Butler said: "I just read a biography of Kurt Cobain, and there's a bit at the end where it's at his funeral, and Krist [Novoselic] said something along the lines of, 'I feel like the great lesson that Kurt gave to the world is that if you just play music or do art, if you just bang it out and really mean it, then that's all you need to do'. That if you really go for it and you really mean what you're doing - that's the great lesson of punk rock, that's what you can achieve. I feel like that really resonated a lot with me, it summarized a lot of how I feel about music, as well."

  • Placebo: Any three-piece band formed in the mid-90s with a heavy emphasis on riffs, unrelenting vocals and emotive lyrics is going to get Cobain comparisons, and Placebo were plagued by the tag 'the glam rock Nirvana' for years. However, they do admit the band's influence and have even covered them.

  • Feeder: Another band who came to be in the heyday of grunge around the time of In Utero are Feeder - who have often cited Kurt Cobain and co as influences and covered their tracks.

  • Drenge: A blistering mix of blues and grunge, frontman Eoin Loveless once said that to write their brutal but brilliant debut album, "We revisited a lot of music that we'd listened to in the past like Nirvana and the White Stripes. For us, that gives the album a sense of nostalgia."

  • Interpol: In an interview with a Belgian magazine, frontman Paul Banks once said of Kurt Cobain: "What can I say? He was my idol. Even though I never tried to imitate him, let that be clear. He was a rock star against his will, you could read that in every interview. But everything he did screamed: look at me! He was looking for attention his way, much more than I do. Nevertheless, try to achieve what he did in such a short time, try to survive it."

  • Muse: The Devonshire trio were met with many Nirvana and Radiohead comparisons when they emerged with debut album Showbiz. Speaking to NME in 1999, frontman Matt Bellamy said: "We take our influences from lots of American bands, like Nirvana." Bassist Chris Wolstenholme added: "We were into Nirvana when we were younger, when we were in previous bands we did covers of their stuff, it was what got us into bands really, it was what made us want to be in bands."

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