Ongoing History Daily: Nirvana’s first record contract

Nirvana will forever be one of the biggest bands in rock history. But did you know that for the first part of their career, they didn’t have a proper contract?

In the early days of their relationship with Sub Pop, they did everything on a handshake. But then one night, bass player Krist Novoselic got really, really drunk on a jug of cheap wine and wandered over to the house of Jonathan Poneman, one of the owners of Sub Pop.

Krist screamed at the front door until Jonathan woke up, heard him out, and then promised to give Nirvana a written contract. With no lawyers on staff (and with no money to hire any lawyers), Poneman simply photocopied some pages out of a book called This Business of Music and inserted the names “Nirvana” and “Sub Pop” where required. That’s the only deal Nirvana had until they finally signed a major contract in 1990.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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