When a band from Aberdeen, Washington called Nirvana, who’d thus far failed to chart in America with their debut Sub Pop album ‘Bleach,’ made a cautious entry to the Billboard 200 at No. 144 with ‘Nevermind’ in October 1991, few would have guessed what was about to happen. A UK debut at No. 36 the week before hardly made it obvious either. But 23 years ago, on January 11, 1992, the group’s Geffen Records debut replaced Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ at the top of that US chart, and Nirvana officially ruled America.
‘Nevermind’ made fast strides after that modest debut on the Billboard chart, with its first showing in the top 20 in early November 1991, and gold and platinum status confirmed simultaneously later that month. The catalyst that helped it conquer the album survey was the band’s signature single ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ which started its own rapid rise in the December and went on to peak at No. 6, turning platinum for one million US sales.
But even that achievement paled by comparison with the parent album, as ‘Nevermind’ went on to be both a critical landmark and a commercial juggernaut. It ranked No. 17 in Rolling Stone’s all-time top 500 album list and racked up a chart life of five years, with a 252-week run on the survey. Suddenly, everyone also wanted to know about that overlooked debut album, and ‘Bleach’ made its own chart debut in January 1992, two and a half years after release.
‘Nevermind’ added new honours to its multi-platinum status with remarkable regularity. It went double platinum in the same week that it hit No. 1, and triple just a month later. By June, it was quadruple, and by November, quintuple.
Further certifications followed over the ensuing years: six-times platinum by October 1994, seven times by February 1995, then a straight jump to nine times in October 1996. Its most recent certification was in March, 1999, when ‘Nevermind’ joined the exclusive club of albums with diamond status, for ten million US shipments.