The 10 Essential Nirvana Covers That Keep the Band's Spirit Alive

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“I don’t think any of us would be in this room tonight if it weren’t for Kurt Cobain,” Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder told a sold out Washington, D.C. crowd the day after the Nirvana frontman’s death 25 years ago. On April 8, 1994, Cobain’s body was found with a shotgun three days after the iconic musician died of suicide. He was 27 years old, and his band Nirvana, which had only formed seven years earlier, had already become one of the most important American bands of the century.

More than two decades later, Nirvana’s influence can be heard in nearly every genre today from country to hip-hop to mainstream rock music. In terms of writing, in sound, in style—the band has remained one of the most important touchstones of modern popular culture.

And that’s exactly why modern acts still pay tribute to Nirvana by performing both recorded and live covers of the band’s music. From St. Vincent to Sturgill Simpson to Tori Amos and Jessica Lea Mayfield, we run down the best Nirvana covers 25 years after Kurt Cobain’s death. Also, as a little bonus, I included Nirvana's own cover of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World," to bring things full circle.


Hole – “You Know You’re Right

Tori Amos – “Smells Like Teen Spirit

Robert Glasper Experiment – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Sturgill Simpson – “In Bloom”

Patti Smith – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Sinead O’Connor – “All Apologies”

Jessica Lea Mayfield – “Lounge Act”

St. Vincent with Nirvana Members – “Lithium”

Tricky – “Something in the Way”

Kristin Hersh – "Pennyroyal Tea"

Bonus: Nirvana Covering David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World"

This story originally appeared on Esquire.comMinor edits have been made by the editors.

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Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for
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