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This Week In Rock History: Nirvana Debut 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'

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April 17th, 1991: Nirvana performs "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time

There's no video of the first live performance of "Satisfaction" or "Johnny B. Goode" or most other landmark songs of the rock era, but thankfully cameras were rolling at the OK Hotel in Seattle on April 17th, 1991. That's when Nirvana first played an in-progress version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Even during such a landmark moment in rock history some idiot still felt compelled to yell out "Freebird" a second before the song began. It sort of makes you wonder what was yelled out before Lynyrd Skynyrd played "Freebird" for the first time.

Photos: The Rise Of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins And More

April 13th, 1996: Rage Against the Machine plays on SNL, causes ruckus

I don't know who decided to have Rage Against The Machine perform on Saturday Night Live the week that uber-conservative Steve Forbes hosted the show, but they should have expected trouble. At the time Forbes was running for president and his flat tax proposal was drawing lots of attention. During rehearsal, Rage hung two inverted American flags on their amps to demonstrate their view that the two major political parties were both "wealthy representatives of the privileged classes." Needless to say, SNL thought this was a bad plan and Rage promised to take them down. Seconds before the live broadcast, however, they put them back up. All hell broke loose and the SNL crew furiously ripped them down right before the band played "Bulls On Parade." As soon as it ended the band was thrown out of the building. They weren't allowed to wave at the end of the night, or even perform their second song.

Photo Gallery: Rage Against The Machine Rock For Immigrants Rights In California

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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