Walk down a hallway in any high school during passing period. If you can survive through the over-populated corridors and stairwells, be sure to notice the kids decked out in full black. Complete with gloomy faces, these punks, Goths, burn-outs, outcasts - whatever you want to call them - all carry with them the same badges of their right to be gloomy. The Misfits, System of a Down, Slipknot, Insane Clown Posy, the big names in pop-punk sewn into their bags and jackets, and always prominent in the line of names is one that feels the most out of place: Nirvana. Yet it is because of Nirvana that those other names are there. The rag-tag group from Seattle threw together everything that was crowding up the underground music scene of the early 90s, and clearly the music that came out of their "revolution" was nothing new, but the tortured face of the now idolized Kurt Cobain (action figure and everything) made the then-underground sound marketable, commercial, and most importantly, made it last. Aberdeen, Washington is 100 miles from Seattle. In that small logging town in the mid-80's a young high school drop-out named Kurt Cobain was migrating between his divorced parents and a long list of relatives, none of which wanted him. He carried with him a garbage bag of dirty clothes and a crappy guitar, a lifestyle he would later mythologize in countless interviews and the song "Something in the Way." Cobain's musical life had been begun through his parents, who exposed him to 60's rock such as The Beatles, which Cobain eagerly gobbled up. The hardcore world, then truly indie and underground, was shown to Cobain through the neighborhood band The Melvins. He idolized the group, trying out for the guitar part in the band, but instead becoming a roadie, it became Cobain's dream to start a Melvins' of his own. To crank out the punk rock that was beginning to consume his life. High school friend Krist Novoselic held a similar dream. Together, with a slew of rotating positions and third members, the duo slowly practiced their craft. Fecal Matter was the first incarnation, with The Melvins' drummer Dale Crover on drums, which transitioned into the Stiff Woodies, featuring Cobain on drums, Novoselic on bass, and a whole cast of people on guitars. Finally, by 1987, the band solidified with Cobain on guitar and vocals, Novoselic on bass, and Chad Channing on drums, all under the name Nirvana. Touring the underground circuit, if there was one, in Olympia and other rural areas around Seattle, Nirvana began releasing rough demos and gaining a small but cultist following. Within a year, the band had signed with a small local label called Sub-Pop, and by 1988 had their first single released, a Shocking Blues cover called "Love Buzz." The roller coaster ride of stardom and myth that then began would culminate in Cobain's 1994 apparent suicide. Nirvana's first album "Bleach" was recorded for $600 in 1989, and quickly sold 35,000 copies - no small feat for a trio out of rural Washington - and most importantly gained the attention of the likes of Sonic Youth and their Geffen label. Dave Grohl, fresh out of his stint as a drummer with D.C. punks Scream, came into the mix to replace a faltering Channing in 1990, just in time to be rushed into the studio under Geffen records to record Nirvana's sophomoric release. Under the guidance of Butch Vig, Nirvana cut and released what would be the most influential album in alternative rock. "Nevermind" was released in 1991 to a whirlwind of support. The label's meager hopes to sell 100,000 copies were soon drowned out as "Nevermind" replaced Michael Jackson at the top of the charts. Never before had punk rock taken such a front-stage, and accompanied by a music video "Smells Like Teen Spirit" began its rotations everywhere from MTV to malls to the radio waves. The roller coaster ride began to shoot out of control. Making a slew of TV appearances, the grinding tours and publicity began to take its toll on the band. Courtney Love's entrance into the band's life as Cobain's sweet heart and soon wife began causing friction between Cobain, Novoselic, and Grohl. Still more troubling, Cobain had reflamed his old heroin addiction. A media storm erupted after Love was accused of taking the drug while pregnant with the couple's first child, Frances Bean Cobain, who was born on August 18, 1992. The coupled pressure of drugs, age-old stomach problems, the constant eye of the press and public, and deteriorating martial and band relations began to take their toll on Cobain. This physical and mental strain was made clear in Nirvana's final album, In Utero. Released in the fall of 1993 under the direction of Steve Albini, In Utero is arguably Nirvana's masterpiece. Where Nevermind launched Nirvana and alternative music as a whole to the nation's front stage of music, In Utero showed what Cobain and Nirvana were trying to do all along. The album is mixed between hardcore distortion pools of emotion like "Scentless Apprentice" and ironic lyrical haunts like "Serve the Servants." It would be Nirvana's final hurrah. Cobain had been suffering more and more from his drug abuse problem. He had attempted suicide earlier in the year, and the police were called to the Cobain home when Kurt locked himself in the bathroom with a gun, threatening suicide. In March of 1994 on tour in Rome Cobain again attempted suicide through overdose, and was admitted to Exodus Recovery Center in Los Angeles. After only a day Cobain escaped and returned to Seattle, where he let himself into his house's garden hutch, took a dose of heroin, and shot himself with a shotgun. By burning out on that April day, Cobain gained instant martyr status, and became the spokesman for a generation of geeks, punks, outcasts, losers, burn-outs, and drop-outs. Nirvana's music became the soundtrack for Generation X and laid the groundworks for which future punk and alternative bands would achieve similar success. Grohl himself participated in the rise of the alternative bands after Nirvana's downfall with his pop group Foo Fighters. So it's not difficult to see why that little yellow smiley face appears on high school outcasts 12 years after Nirvana dissolved. Without Nirvana's marketable infusion of punk and mainstream, the direction that music has taken since then would not be possible. Nirvana cast down the 80's Michael Jacksons and made way for groups like Bush, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Blink-182, and Audioslave to take center-stage. While it may offend you to see Cobain cast in plastic and sold around the mall, it's understandable. He is an idol to a generation of music-lovers, the culmination of the final push into the new era of music.