Whereas in larger cities there had been intense and frequently violent rivalries between punk and heavy metal subcultures, in Seattle there was more overlap, perhaps because their numbers were too small to maintain this sort of social boundary. ... As a consequence of this social intermingling, a sonic and stylistic hybrid evolved in Seattle during the late 1980s that was unlike that of other subcultures.
Unlike the later grunge era, when out-of-towners made significant contributions, the early Seattle punk scene was a homegrown enterprise. Without this group of young people and their DIY spirit, Seattle's early-'90s international popularity - including Nirvana and their peers - would never have happened.
The up-and-comers, as part of the early 1990s grunge movement, embraced [Neil] Young as their "godfather." ... Indeed, many have cited the second side of Rust (tracks 6-9) as the first recorded instance of grunge, a term and a style that wouldn't be part of the everyday lexicon for another 12 years.
With 1987's seminal Gluey Porch Treatments album, the Melvins would become one of the founding fathers of what eventually became known as "grunge" - a new, mutant form of punk rock that absorbed heavy metal as well as proletarian seventies hard rock bands such as Kiss and Aerosmith. Their sound revolutionized the Seattle music, which had previously been dominated by art-rock bands.
In 1986 Deep Six documented the beginnings of grunge. Sub Pop 200, released in 1988, represented the moment when Seattle music had released fruition and maturity, and at the same time received attention from cultural centers in the UK. This compilation demonstrated to those outside the Seattle music community that a viable original music scene did in fact exist.
Reflecting years later on why the scene exploded when it did, Kurt speculated in his journal: "Lots of flattering hype from multiple occupational English journalists ... catapulted the Sub Pop regime into instant fame (just add water, or hype.)" Nirvana was usually mentioned in the early wave of 1989 press, but in most articles - like one in Melody Maker in March 1989 titled "Seattle: Rock City" - they were relegated to a tiny sidebar as also-rans.
The four Northwest bands that eventually came to define grunge on the larger (more commercially successful) stage were Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. These four bands, and a few other outfits, dominated the rock-and-roll world for a few years.
Kurt and his band Nirvana had been the musical act on "Saturday Night Live". Their appearance on the program would prove to be a watershed moment in the history of rock 'n' roll: the first time a grunge band had received live national television exposure. It was the same weekend that Nirvana's major label debut, Nevermind, knocked Michael Jackson out of the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts, becoming the best-selling album in the nation.
When the New York Times was working on its story about the "success" of grunge in the fashion world, a former Sub Pop employee named Megan Jasper pulled off the now-legendary prank of providing the reporter with a fake glossary of grunge slang, which the Times then dutifully reprinted as truth. Like many others inside the subculture, Jasper was angry and annoyed at the perceived commodification of the grunge scene, which the Times story on fashion exemplified.
Yet, it was only after those exhilarating grunge years had subsided that we were able to clearly see exactly what had all just happened and to understand what the real legacy of that period would be. Still, even after those heady days of grunge glory, we should not forget that the Northwest music scene had really been a longtime in the making and that it was built upon trails blazed by earlier musicians - some of whom today are sadly next to forgotten.