Twenty-four years ago today, Nirvana‘s Nevermind came out on Geffen Sept. 24, 1991, two years after the band’s debut album, Bleach. Nevermind marked the album debut of drummer Dave Grohl, who joined Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic in California and Wisconsin studios to record the landmark rock album.
Nevermind gave the Washington band a cross-generational, international fanbase and rocketed Cobain to a spotlight he’d soon come to resent, thanks in no small part to the Gen X anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Fans and critics have rhapsodized about Nevermind for years — but that’s not our goal right here. We’re rounding up 5 essential chart stats about Nirvana’s sophomore album, figures that speak to the album’s path from modest rock release to generation-defining blockbuster.
1) Nevermind debuted at No. 144 on the Billboard 200. DGC sent U.S. record stores around 46,000 copies that first week, according to Nirvana historian Michael Azerrad. By the time it went No. 1, it was selling more than six times that amount each week.
2) As record stores scrambled to keep Nevermind on the shelves, the album was certified gold and platinum by the RIAA in November 1991.
3) Nevermind replaced Michael Jackson’s Dangerous to become the No. 1 album in America on Jan. 11, 1992. Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ the Wind took the Billboard 200 top slot for the next two weeks, after which Nevermind returned to No. 1 for one week on Feb. 1, 1992.
4) Nevermind was the eighth best-selling album in 1992. Only albums from Billy Ray Cyrus, Pearl Jam, Kris Kross, Whitney Houston and Garth Brooks (three from him) sold more copies that year.
5) Of four singles released from Nevermind in the U.S., three hit the Hot 100. “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the band’s biggest hit, peaked at No. 6; “Come As You Are,” their sixth biggest hit, at No. 32; “Lithium,” their tenth biggest hit, at No. 64; and “In Bloom,” which did not chart on the Hot 100.