Paul McCartney: “Somebody whispered to me ‘That’s Nirvana. You’re Kurt.’ I couldn’t believe it”

Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl perform live at Safeco Field on July 19, 2013 in Seattle, Washington.
(Image credit: Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images)

It’s impossible to deny the sea-change brought about by Nirvana’s Nevermind. Even if grunge lasted no longer than vocalist Kurt Cobain himself, who drew a line under his career in the most permanent way possible in April 1994. The album's enormous presence also drew attention to the melodic pick playing of bassist Krist Novoselic, which cried out to be mixed high in any given Nirvana song. "I was really fortunate that I got to work with Kurt: he was such a talented songwriter and he had a real ear for a hook, so as far as I was concerned playing bass with him was super-easy."

Cobain once described his songwriting as a combination of his favorite influences – the Beatles and Black Sabbath – and purportedly asked engineers to make him sound like John Lennon. All of which made Paul McCartney a pretty solid choice to front a Nirvana reunion at a charity concert at Madison Square Garden in December 2012.

Speaking from the stage before introducing Dave Grohl, Pat Smear and Krist Novoselic, McCartney said: “So recently, some guys asked me to go and jam with them. So I showed up ready to jam, and these guys kept saying they hadn't played together for years. The penny finally dropped and I finally understood that I was in the middle of a Nirvana reunion.”

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.