Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Video Shoot Details

On August 17 1991, Nirvana shot the video for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ below at GMT Studios in Culver City, California, on soundstage number 6 with the shoot starting at noon and lasting the entire day.

GMT Studios Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit Video Shoot 1991

The video was based on the concept of a school concert which ends in anarchy and riot. Inspiration was taken from Jonathan Kaplan’s 1979 movie “Over the Edge”, as well as the Ramones film “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”. First time director Samuel Bayer believed he was hired because his test reel was so poor the band anticipated his production would be “punk” and “not corporate.”

Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit Video Shoot GMT Studios

Nirvana handed out these flyers at their show on August 15, 1991 at The Roxy in Los Angeles and on August 16th, the day before the shoot, The LA radio station KXLU made the announcement that Nirvana was looking for punk rockers to be in the band’s video shoot the next day. The response was so overwhelming that hundreds of heartbroken kids were turned away.  Here’s the flyer…


The video featured the band playing at a pep rally in a high school gym to an audience of apathetic students on bleachers, and cheerleaders wearing black dresses with the Circle-A anarchist symbol.

Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit Video Cheerleaders 1991

The video ends with the assembled students destroying the set and the band’s gear. The demolition of the set captured in the video’s conclusion was the result of genuine discontent. The extras that filled the bleachers had been forced to stay seated through numerous replays of the song for an entire afternoon of filming. Cobain convinced Bayer to allow the extras to mosh, and the set became a scene of chaos. Cobain said,

“Once the kids came out dancing they just said ‘fuck you,’ because they were so tired of this shit throughout the day.”

Here’s some cool photos of Kurt during a break from the video shoot…

Smells Like Teen Spirit Nirvana Video Shoot Kurt Cobain 1991

Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit Video Shoot Nirvana 1991

Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit Video Shoot

Here is Kurt in his “Smells Like Teen Spirit” sweater.  It’s probably his second most famous article of clothing behind the MTV Unplugged green cardigan.

Kurt Cobain Green Sweater Smells Like Teen Spirit Music Video

 The sweater and the Lake Placid Blue Fender Mustang Guitar used in the video were on display at the Seattle Experience Music Project (EMP).

Smells Like Teen Spirit Display Sweater Guitar

Cobain disliked Bayer’s final edit and personally oversaw a re-edit of the video that resulted in the version finally aired. One of Cobain’s major additions was the next-to-last shot of the video, which was a close-up of his own face after it had been obscured for most of the video. Here’s Bayer’s frist edit.

“CHAKA” Tagged On Dave Grohl’s Drums In Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit Video


  1. taylor beard says:


  2. rodney says:

    it very sad that curt is gone because think of all of that song that would have been number one now if he was still here with us today. we will never understand why people kill them self. But it happen and there nothing that we can do about it, so we just keep going on and never forget. ( you will all ways be mist curt rest in peace)

  3. Paul says:

    I was there and still have my stub and casting call flyer from the show the at the roxy:-)

    1. feelnumb says:

      awesome. scan them and e-mail it so we can post it.

    2. wavy90sdave says:


  4. Paul says:

    You can check eBay for my auction. But sure I will email some pics:-) great times I have alot if stories

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