In 1987-1988 songwriters Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee from Glasgow, Scotland known as The Vaselines released 2 EP records with a combined total of 7 songs. Of those 7 songs mega-fan Kurt Cobain would cover 3 of them with Nirvana. Cobain labelled the duo his,
“favorite songwriters in the whole world”
Here’s the track listing of the two Vaselines EP’s. The bolded titles were covered by Nirvana.
Son of a Gun (EP) – released August 14, 1987
- “Son of a Gun”
- “Rory Rides Me Raw”
- “You Think You’re a Man” (Geoff Deane)
Dying For It (EP) – released March 1988
- “Dying for It”
- “Molly’s Lips”
- “Teenage Superstars”
- “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam”
“Molly’s Lips” and “Son of a Gun” were played live by Nirvana very often, the Nirvana studio version of the songs were first released on the “Hormoaning” EP (Japan) in 1992 and then on “Incesticide” (1992).
“Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” retitled to “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” was also played live by Nirvana but it was made famous by the Nirvana “MTV Unplugged in New York” concert. That album and DVD went on to sell several million copies and the song became as well known as any other Nirvana track.
Before Nirvana, The Vaselines did not have much success and had broken up before the release of their debut album “Dum-Dum” (1989). Kelly said,
“I’ve never made any money apart from my Nirvana royalties, It was my tiny bit of rock history, but a strange feeling because by then I was striving for recognition with other bands. I still haven’t come to terms with it, although it allowed me to go on playing, and get a mortgage without having a job.”
Eugene Kelly joined Nirvana on stage to sing “Molly’s Lips” live at the Reading Festival on August 23, 1991.
Check out the video of this memorable performance.
Cobain also asked Kelly’s new band Captain America to open up for Nirvana for a couple of weeks after “Nevermind” was released. Check out this photo of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain proudly advertising the Captain America band.
Although unconfirmed, the amount of royalties from collected by The Vaselines from the Nirvana covers has to be at least several millions of dollars. Kelly & Mckee certainly appreciate it. Kelly says,
“I think if Nirvana hadn’t recorded the songs, we would have just disappeared and been another band that people would have not really heard of. That’s the facts of it and it will be with us forever. And we’re fine with that. It could have been worse. It could have been some band we really disliked that was touting us and saying we were great.”