5 Grunge Music Artists You Need to Know

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


In the early 1990s, the grunge music scene gave birth to a new sound that would go on to change the course of rock music forever. Here are 5 grunge music artists you need to know.


Nirvana was an American rock band that was formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting and best-known being Dave Grohl, who joined the band in 1990. In the late 1980s, Nirvana established itself as part of the Seattle grunge scene, releasing its first album, Bleach, for the independent record label Sub Pop in 1989.

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was the guitarist, singer and primary songwriter of Nirvana. Nirvana achieved massive success with their 1991 album Nevermind, which featured their breakthrough single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Cobain was troubled throughout his life by an undiagnosed chronic stomach condition, and he also struggled with heroin addiction. On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.


Nirvana was an American rock band formed by singer-songwriter Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting being Dave Grohl, who joined in 1990. Though the band dissolved in 1994 after the death of Cobain, their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern rock and roll culture.

In the late 1980s, Nirvana established itself as part of the Seattle grunge scene, releasing its first album, Bleach, for the independent record label Sub Pop in 1989. They developed a sound that relied on dynamic contrasts between quiet verses and loud, heavy choruses. After signing to major label DGC Records in 1991, Nirvana found unexpected success with “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, the first single from their landmark second album Nevermind (1991).

Nevermind was produced by Albini and released on September 24, 1991. Upon its release, Nevermind entered the Billboard 200 chart at number one and quickly became a commercial success. The album’s popularity helped bring alternative rock into the mainstream. The success of Nevermind surprised the music industry; Nirvana had reached number one despite very little radio or television exposure. The release of Nevermind marked an abrupt shift in popular musical taste: popularity of hair metal bands such as Poison and Mr. Big diminished greatly as more listeners turned towards more grunge-influenced acts such as Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam; rap metal also saw a similar resurgence throughout this time period with artists such as Anthrax teaming up with Public Enemy

Pearl Jam

One of the most influential grunge bands of all time, Pearl Jam is still making music that resonates with fans today. Emerging from the Seattle music scene in the early 1990s, Pearl Jam was one of the first grunge bands to achieve mainstream success. With their debut album, Ten, Pearl Jam became a household name, thanks to hits like “Alive,” “Even Flow,” and “Jeremy.”

Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder is an American singer, songwriter, and musician who is best known as the lead singer and one of three guitarists of the rock band Pearl Jam. Formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990, the band rose to prominence with their debut album, Ten, and has gone on to become one of the most successful rock bands of all time. With a distinctive voice and powerful stage presence, Vedder is considered one of the greatest singers in rock history. He has been nominated for eleven Grammy Awards and won two for his work with Pearl Jam. Outside of Pearl Jam, Vedder has released three solo albums, worked as a soundtrack composer, and been involved in various charitable causes.


Ten is the second studio album by American rock band Pearl Jam, released on August 27, 1991 through Epic Records. The album reached number two on the Billboard 200 chart, and became the band’s first album to be certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum in the United States. Despite debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 chart and selling more than 850,000 copies in its first week of release, Ten was not a major commercial success upon release. However, the album’s popularity rose greatly in the years following its release, eventually becoming one of the most influential records of the 1990s. Ten has been cited as one of Pearl Jam’s best albums, and is considered one of the key albums of the grunge music genre.

Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains is one of the most influential grunge bands of all time. Formed in 1987, the band rose to fame in the early 1990s with their second album, Dirt. The album was a massive success, and it solidified Alice in Chains as one of the biggest grunge bands of the decade.

Layne Staley

Layne Staley was the lead singer of Alice in Chains, who were one of the biggest bands of the 1990s. He struggled with addiction for much of his life and died of a drug overdose in 2002.


Alice in Chains is an American rock band from Seattle, Washington, formed in 1987 by guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell and original lead vocalist Layne Staley. The band’s current lineup consists of guitarist and lead vocalist Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez, drummer Sean Kinney, and lead vocalist William DuVall. Since its formation, Alice in Chains has released six studio albums, three EPs, three live albums, four compilations, two DVDs, 32 music videos and 31 singles. The band is known for its distinctive vocal style which often included the harmonized vocals of Staley and Cantrell.

Dirt is the second studio album by the American rock band Alice in Chains, released on September 29, 1992 by Columbia Records. Peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 chart,[1] the album was regarded as a commercial success for the band; it remains their highest selling album to date with four million copies sold worldwide[2] and was certified quadruple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The singles “Would?”, “Them Bones”, “Angry Chair”, and “Rooster” were also successful. Upon its release on September 29, Dirt debuted at No. 6 on Billboard 200.[3] The album stayed on chart for 106 weeks,[3] while spawning five singles: “Would?”, “Them Bones”, “Angry Chair”, “Rooster”, and “Down in a Hole”.


If you’re a fan of grunge music, then you need to know about Soundgarden. This band was one of the leading pioneers of the grunge music genre. Soundgarden was formed in 1984 by Chris Cornell and Kim Thayil. The band released their debut album, Ultramega OK, in 1988.

Chris Cornell

Soundgarden was one of the groundbreaking grunge music artists of the early 1990s. Formed in Seattle, WA in 1984, the band originally consisted of singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. The band’s lineup would later solidify with the addition of drummer Matt Cameron (who would go on to join Pearl Jam). Soundgarden was known for their heavy metal and punk influences, as well as Cornell’s powerful vocals. The band released their debut album, Ultramega OK, in 1988 to critical acclaim. They would go on to release five more studio albums, including their best-selling album Superunknown (1994), which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and was nominated for nine Grammy Awards. Following Cornell’s death in 2017, Soundgarden announced they would be disbanding.


Grunge music first broke into the mainstream in the early 1990s with bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Seattle-based Soundgarden. Soundgarden’s 1991 album Badmotorfinger was one of the first grunge albums to gain widespread attention, and it established the band as one of the leading forces in the genre.

Soundgarden’s music combined heavy metal with punk rock, creating a sound that was both aggressive and accessible. The band’s lyrics were often dark and introspective, exploring themes of depression, anxiety, and paranoia. Soundgarden was also known for its powerful live performances, which often featured singer Chris Cornell’s signature wail.

The band released three more studio albums before disbanding in 1997. Since then, Soundgarden has reunion tours and released a new album in 2012.

Temple of the Dog

Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell was an American rock musician, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter and rhythm guitarist for the American rock band Soundgarden and as lead vocalist and songwriter for the supergroup Audioslave. He was also known for his numerous solo works and soundtrack contributions since 1991. He released four solo studio albums, Euphoria Morning (1999), Carry On (2007), Scream (2009), Higher Truth (2015), with his band Soundgarden, Cornell released Badmotorfinger in 1991, Superunknown in 1994, Down on the Upside in 1996, and King Animal in 2012. As a member of Audioslave, he released three studio albums, Audioslave (2002), Out of Exile (2005), Revelations (2006). He also released live albums with Soundgarden and Audioslave to critical acclaim. As a solo artist he received commercial success with his live album Songbook (2011).

Temple of the Dog

Temple of the Dog were an American rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990. The band was created as a tribute to the late singer Andrew Wood, and consisted of members of two otherSeattle bands: Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

The group released only one album, Temple of the Dog (1991), which was a commercial and critical success. The album included the singles “Hunger Strike” and “Say Hello 2 Heaven”, both of which received significant airplay on rock radio.

After the release of Temple of the Dog, members of the band went on to form pearl Jam (with Jeff Ament, Mike McCready and Stone Gossard) and Soundgarden (with Chris Cornell), both of which achieved commercial success in the 1990s. Temple of the Dog reunited in 2016 for a series of live shows to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their album.

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