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Were There Two Bands Called Nirvana?

Nirvana Local Anaesthetic

Holly |

Yes, there were two well-known bands named Nirvana. The first Nirvana was a British psychedelic rock band formed in London in 1965. They released an album called "The Story of Simon Simopath" in 1967 but didn't achieve widespread success.


The more famous Nirvana, however, is the American rock band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. This band, fronted by Kurt Cobain, achieved immense popularity in the early 1990s with albums like "Nevermind," featuring iconic songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The American Nirvana is often referred to as "the" Nirvana, given their significant impact on the music scene.

The British Nirvana

The British Nirvana was a psychedelic rock band formed in London in 1965. It was led by Irish musician Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Greek musician Alex Spyropoulos. Their debut album, "The Story of Simon Simopath" (1967), featured a concept about the journey of a man named Simon. Despite positive critical reception, the British Nirvana did not achieve significant commercial success, and they eventually disbanded in the late 1960s. Their music is characterised by its psychedelic and orchestral elements, capturing the spirit of the 1960s London music scene.

While the British Nirvana did not achieve significant commercial success during their active years, there has been a renewed interest in their music over the years. "The Story of Simon Simopath" and some of their other works have gained recognition among psychedelic rock enthusiasts, and the band has garnered a cult following in retrospective appraisals of 1960s music.

"The Story of Simon Simopath" is often considered one of the first concept albums in rock music. The album follows the narrative of a fictional character named Simon, making it a conceptual and thematic work that predates the concept album trend that became more prevalent in the following years.

We’ve only had one of their records in our hands – a copy of their 1971 album “Local Anaesthetic” which was released on Vertigo. 

Nirvana Local Anaesthetic
It was fascinating to come across this record - we thought we'd stumbled across an unknown release from the US Nirvana.
Nirvana (2) – The Story Of Simon Simopath
Discogs | Nirvana's first record is regarded as one of the earliest concept albums. 

The US Nirvana

Formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987, Nirvana, composed of Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and later Dave Grohl, became a pioneering force in the music scene of the late '80s and early '90s. Their 1991 album "Nevermind," with the iconic single "Smells Like Teen Spirit," propelled them to global fame, helping popularise grunge and alternative rock. Interestingly, the album's unexpected success led to Cobain grappling with the pressures of fame, a theme reflected in subsequent releases like "In Utero."

Despite Kurt Cobain's tragic death in 1994, Nirvana's impact persisted. Krist Novoselic explored various musical projects, and Dave Grohl, the band's drummer, embarked on a highly successful career. Grohl formed the Foo Fighters in 1994, serving as the lead vocalist and guitarist. The Foo Fighters achieved commercial success with albums like "The Colour and the Shape" (1997) and continued to be a prominent presence in rock music.

Unlike the UK Nirvana, we have seen over thirty US Nirvana records pass through our hands, with more coming through our doors most weeks. 

Nirvana - Bleach
Many Nirvana records are highly sought after.
Nirvana - Live At The Paramount
Nirvana releases live albums as well as their standard releases.

Did the paths of the two Nirvana’s ever cross?

In a curious intersection of musical timelines, the UK Nirvana got themselves entangled in a legal dispute with the more renowned US Nirvana. The lawsuit, settled out of court for a reported $100,000, allowed both bands to continue using the name Nirvana. 

An interesting twist to this legal chapter is the UK Nirvana's attempt to pacify public sentiment by recording a cover of Nirvana's "Lithium" as part of a conceptual album titled "Nirvana Sings Nirvana." It was a tongue-in-cheek album, which they aborted after Kurt Cobain’s death. The cover of “Lithium” was eventually released on their 1996 album “Orange And Blue” which mostly features outtakes of their tracks from the 1960s.

This year (2023), for the first time, this album was pressed on vinyl! The edition is blue and there are a few available for sale on Discogs

Nirvana (2) – Orange And Blue
Discogs | We're glad to see that this album has now seen a vinyl release.

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