Nirvana’s Infamous ‘Headbanger’s Ball’ Debut Recalled By Riki Rachtman
On the verge of Nirvana’s explosion into the mainstream, they made an appearance on the once-popular MTV program ‘Headbanger’s Ball’. This is widely remembered as the time Kurt wore a big yellow ball gown, but for former host Riki Rachtman, that’s not the most memorable part of his first meeting with the band.
Anyone who has seen the interview would know, it didn’t seem to be going all that well. Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic (Dave Grohl skipped the appearance) sat across from Rachtman and barely even participated in what quickly became a one-way conversation. Rachtman explains in the new interview that Kurt’s lethargy may have been caused by something else, like the fact that he was passed out backstage:
“I walk into the green room because hey, I’m gonna meet Kurt Cobain — we’ll talk a little bit before the show, and he is just sprawled out on the floor passed out… I mean [I] kick him [and he’s] not moving.”
Rachtman went on to describe the interview that followed his failed attempt to chat with Cobain prior to the show:
“So he sits down, and the whole time he’s just like, ‘Uhhh.’ You could tell that he didn’t want to be there. I wasn’t getting any good answers, I wasn’t finding out anything about them. … It was like pulling teeth. What started as a day that I was really excited about ended up becoming a day that I was just like, ‘When is this over?’ And you can just see [it].”
Rachtman, who was a well known fan of the 80’s hair metal scene, actually defends claims that Nirvana destroyed that scene:
“People say, ‘Nirvana killed heavy metal,’ and they didn’t. If you had any type of music scene that is so weak that another band can come on playing a different type of music and kill your scene, then your scene wasn’t good enough in the first place [laughs]. You come out with this crazy hair and all glam, look like a chick, you know, if you do that, OK, that’s fine, but after awhile, you’re going to need some sort of substance behind it. And what happened was, here’s somebody new that really doesn’t care, that picks up dirty clothes off the floor, wears ’em, has no stage show, goes on camera, does concerts and just plays rock and roll.”