On This Day: Nirvana’s Debut Album ‘Bleach’ Is Released and Launches One of the Most Legendary Rock Bands in History

On June 15, 1989, grunge legends Nirvana released their debut album Bleach. While their first release wasn’t the band’s most successful record, it launched a band that would be considered trailblazers in grunge and alt-rock music today.

Videos by American Songwriter

The Beginnings of ‘Bleach’

Bleach was the very first studio album to be released by Nirvana on the label Sub Pop, and it would be their only release on that label. The band released their first single “Love Buzz” less than a year earlier to some success, and the band went on to prepare for about three weeks to record their first full-length record.

Nirvana recorded Bleach at Seattle’s Reciprocal Recording studio from December 1988 through January of the next year. The album features drummer Chad Channing, who left the band after recording Bleach due to frustrations about not being involved in the band’s songwriting process.

Recording Bleach wasn’t exactly the prettiest process. Kurt Cobain noted that he didn’t like the pressure from Sub Pop to make a “rock” album. Without Sub Pop’s influence, one may wonder if the album would have had a more art-pop vibe to it. Cobain was good at songwriting in that genre.

“There was this pressure from Sub Pop and the grunge scene to play ‘rock music'”, Cobain had said at the time, “[They stripped] it down and [made] it sound like Aerosmith.”

Humble Beginnings and Lack of Charting Success

Bleach didn’t chart at all when it was first released. However, the album was reissued a few years later after the ultra-successful Nirvana album Nevermind was released in 1991. The reissue of Bleach made it to no. 89 on the Billboard 200.

Bleach may not have been a commercial success, but it was the beginning of something huge for Nirvana. It’s an album worthy of respect from any Nirvana fan, but it’s also just a great record. “About A Girl” and the “Love Buzz” by Shocking Blue cover are essential listening.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Leave a Reply

R.E.M. Reunite, The Bacon Brothers Get “Footloose,” Trey Anastasio Gives Steely Dan Tribute, and More Moments From the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction

Celine Dion Photo via CBC/YouTube

Céline Dion Issues a Guarantee on Her Singing Future as Stiff-Person Syndrome Slowly Erodes Her Voice