Kim Gordon Fronts Nirvana at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Watch – Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Kim Gordon Fronts Nirvana at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Watch the former Sonic Youth singer perform a searing rendition of “Aneurysm” at the 2014 ceremony

Former Sonic Youth singer Kim Gordon rolled out the details of her debut solo LP No Home Record this morning. The album was recored at the Sphere Ranch in Los Angeles and primarily produced by Justin Raisen. “‘Why a solo record? And why now?,’” Gordon asked in a statement. “I don’t know, but it wouldn’t have happened without the persistence of Justin Raisen. Living in LA the last few years it feels like home, but the transience of the place makes it feel sometimes like no home.”

Sonic Youth parted ways in 2011 following Gordon’s divorce from bandmate Thurston Moore after 27 years of marriage and creative partnership. In the immediate aftermath, Gordon battled breast cancer and formed the electric guitar duo Body/Head with Bill Nace. They primarily played clubs while they toured, but on November 10th, 2014, she got to perform in front of a sold-out Barclays Center in Brooklyn when new inductees Nirvana invited her to sing “Aneurysm.”

When Nirvana first learned they were entering the Hall of Fame, they very uncertain about how to approach the evening. Surviving members Dave Growl and Krist Novoselic hadn’t performed a Nirvana song in public together since Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994 and they weren’t sure they even wanted to try, but they did reach out to a few A-list male rock stars. All of them shot down the idea. “Some of them were nervous,” Grohl told Rolling Stone. “I think some of them were maybe apprehensive because of how heavy the whole thing is.”

Things changed once Joan Jett eagerly signed and Grohl had a chat with P.J. Harvey where she expressed incredible excitement, but couldn’t make the show. It gave him a very big idea though. “We thought, ‘Wait, it has to be all women,’” Grohl said. “‘Don’t even ask anyone else. If we can fill the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performance with these incredible women singing Nirvana songs, then we’ll have achieved our own revolution.’ It also added a whole other dimension to the show. It added substance and depth, so it didn’t turn into a eulogy. It was more about the future.”

Lorde, St. Vincent, and Kim Gordon didn’t take much convincing. Check out this incredible video of Gordon performing a feral rendition of “Aneurysm” that night. She was the second singer of the night, following Joan Jett. St. Vincent and Lorde followed. “Joan Jett, who formed the Runaways, changed rock & roll for women,” Grohl said. “Kim Gordon, from Sonic Youth, was this beacon of light in the predominantly macho, male underground punk rock scene. St. Vincent is a wicked musician that’s pushing boundaries now. And Lorde has an incredible future ahead of her as a writer, performer and vocalist.”

At the end of the night, everyone headed over to Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn for a super late, super secret show. Lorde had to bail to catch a flight to Coachella, but Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis and Deer Tick’s John McAuley joined with Jett, St. Vincent, and Kim Gordon to take turns fronting the band. The whole show is on tape somewhere, but it has yet to surface.

Sonic Youth have yet to even appear on a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot even though they’ve been eligible for over a decade. If there’s any justice in the world, that will change sometime soon. It might be a little awkward behind the podium, but if Nirvana could find a way to resurrect themselves for the Hall of Fame, Sonic Youth can pull it off too.

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