Nirvana Had To Hide Their Incompetence As Musicians, Desmond Child Explains

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In a fresh dialogue with Songfacts, Desmond Child offered an intriguing perspective on the grunge era, specifically targeting Nirvana. According to Child, these artists often performed with their gazes cast downward, a habit born more from necessity than fashion due to their basic guitar skills.

Child delved into this during a chat about the overshadowed release of Ratt’s 1990 album ‘Detonator,’ a project he had a hand in crafting. He mentioned the tough times the band faced, especially with Robbin ‘King’ Crosby battling addiction issues.

He pointed out the stark contrast between the flamboyant, outgoing performances of bands like RATT and the introverted, subdued nature of grunge bands, which he termed ‘shoegazers.’ These artists, Child observed, were not guitar maestros but rather minimalists, sticking to a few chords, unlike the guitar wizards of the era like Joe Perry and Eddie Van Halen.

Child highlighted the distinct, almost antithetical style of grunge artists — their unkempt hair, downward gazes, and loose clothing, marking a stark departure from the previous norms. Yet, he acknowledged the powerful sway of trends, how they can pivot sharply, noting that such a shift needs a luminary like Nirvana to truly ignite a cultural transformation.

However, not everyone sees eye to eye with Child’s take. Billy Corgan, in a 2023 chat with Rolling Stone, suggested that Kurt Cobain’s seemingly simplistic approach was more strategic than it appeared. Brian May and Phil Collen, in their respective conversations, lauded Cobain’s guitar prowess, celebrating the raw emotion and authenticity he brought to his music rather than sheer technical skill.

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