On Tour with Nirvana!

Unseen Photos from the 1989 Heavier Than Heaven Tour

By Bruce Pavitt


Photos by Bruce Pavitt and Steve Double.

In mid-October of 1989, Kurt Cobain was in Europe holding a plastic basin full of vomit. The puke belonged to Tad Doyle, the 300-pound former butcher from Idaho who, at the time, had found mild success with his grunge band, Tad. Nirvana and Tad were out on a 42-day, 37-show European tour together, and dealing with Doyle’s gastrointestinal malfunctions had somehow become one of Kurt’s daily responsibilities—he would go on to name the song “Imodium,” later retitled “Breed” on Nevermind, after Doyle’s antidiarrhea medicine.

Sub Pop co-founders Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman joined the tour in Rome the following month. They traveled with the bands for eight days, and Bruce snapped hundreds of photos along the way. The tour culminated at LameFest UK, at London’s Astoria Theatre (now the Rainbow Theatre), which was shot by Steve Double for the British music mag Sounds. For some strange and inexplicable reason, none of these photos from the tour have been published in print until now. We’re delighted to present them here for the first time, along with snippets of Pavitt’s tour diaries from the road. They are excerpts from the new book Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989, out November 14 from Bazillion Points Books. We encourage you to put on your pit-stained smiley-face shirt with the X’ed-out eyes, crank up Bleach, and enjoy.

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