With the lead single "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from Nirvana's second album Nevermind (1991), Nirvana entered into the mainstream, popularizing a subgenreof alternative rock called grunge. Other Seattle grunge bands such asAlice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden also gained wider audiences, and as a result,alternative rock became a dominant genre on radio and music television in the United States during the early-to-middle 1990s. Nirvana became the "flagshipband" of "Generation X," and Cobain, as its frontman, found himself anointed by the media as the generation's "spokesman." Cobain was uncomfortable with theattention and placed his focus on the band's music, believing the band's message and artistic vision to have been misinterpreted by the public, challengingthe band's audience with its third studio album In Utero (1993).
During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with drug addiction as well as theprofessional and personal pressures surrounding himself and his wife, musicianCourtney Love. On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle, thevictim of what was officially ruled a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. The circumstances of his death have become a topic of fascination and debate.Since their debut, Nirvana, with Cobain as a songwriter, sold over twenty-five million albums in the US alone, and over fifty million worldwide.