After 23 years of sitting in a cardboard box in his attic, photos of Nirvana's first European tour were unearthed by Sub Pop founder Bruce Pavitt for a new photo book, the just-released Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe 1989 (buy it!). "I was flipping through the pictures and realized there was a little story here," Pavitt tells Fuse. "And once you piece together the photos, there’s a great story."
The book hones in on eight dates of the trek, starting in Rome, where Pavitt and Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman flew to provide support for their exhausted bands (including Mudhoney and Tad), and lead them to the final and most important tour stop: London's LameFest.
In London, British journalists--then an important catalyst in launching a band's careers--were waiting to stoke the grunge hype coming out of Seattle, including Nirvana's Sub Pop debut, Bleach.
"If the London press goes off on you guys, it’s a career-changer," he said. "And they did."
He adds, "This was a magical and innocent time in their careers that a lot of people haven’t seen," Pavitt explains of the tour, before grunge's big explosion in the early-'90s. "It’s healing to tap into the Cobain story at this point. There’s drama and obstacles, sure, but there's a happy ending. You can close the book and feel good, rather than end with him killing himself, which is depressing. It’s a sad story and a lot of people are still processing that."
Here, Pavitt explains the stories behind four of his favorite photos from Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe 1989.