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1987-1988: Formation and early yearsEdit

Cobain and Novoselic met while attending Aberdeen High, although they never connected, according to Cobain. The pair eventually became friends while frequenting the practice space of the Melvins. Cobain wanted to form a band with Novoselic, but Novoselic did not respond to his overtures, which included handing him a demo tape of his project Fecal Matter. Three years after the two first met, Novoselic notified Kurt Cobain that he had finally listened to the Fecal Matter demo Cobain had given him, and suggested they start a group. The pair recruited Bob McFadden on drums, but after a month the project fell apart. In winter of 1987, Cobain and Novoselic recruited drummer Aaron Burckhard. The trio practiced material from Cobain's Fecal Matter tape, but started writing new material soon after forming.

During its initial months, the band went through a series of names, starting with Skid Row and including Pen Cap Chew, Bliss, and Ted Ed Fred. The group finally settled on Nirvana, which Cobain said was chosen because "I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk rock name like the Angry Samoans". With Novoselic and Cobain having moved to Tacoma and Olympia, Washington, respectively, the two temporarily lost contact with Burckhard. The pair instead practiced with Dale Crover of the Melvins, and Nirvana recorded its first demos in January 1988. In early 1988, Crover moved to San Francisco but recommended Dave Foster to the band as his replacement on drums. Foster's tenure with Nirvana lasted only a few months; during a stint in jail, he was replaced by a returning Burckhard, who himself didn't stay with the band after telling Cobain he was too hung over to practice one day. Cobain and Novoselic put an ad in Seattle music publication The Rocket seeking a replacement drummer which only yielded unsatisfactory responses. Meanwhile, a mutual friend introduced the pair to Chad Channing, and the three musicians agreed to jam together. Channing continued to jam with Cobain and Novoselic, although the drummer noted, "They never actually said 'Ok, you're in.'", and Channing played his first show with the group that May.