When you think of grunge music, there are some bands that come to mind straight away, such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

But, as popular and genre-defining as they were, there are other bands that helped pioneer the way for the Seattle/grunge sound. Some of whom even influenced the aforementioned names. Without these names, who knows what Nirvana or Soundgarden would have ended-up sounding like...


The U-Men

The band formed in 1981 and consisted of John Bigley on vocals, Tom Prince on guitar, Robin Buchan - bass and Charlie Ryan - drums. They all hailed from the Seattle area, however, when the band were forming Robin was living in Alaska. She had been in contact with Tom via letters and eventually joined him and the band back in Seattle. Her time in the band was short-lived after she and Tom split a year later. She was replaced by Jim Tillman. 

Their style of music was loud, dirty and almost 'thrash'-like. 

Perhaps the band's most iconic moment came when they played at Bumbershoot Festival in 1985 - set in the day and open to all ages. During the set, the band filled a moat that was situated in front of the stage, with lighter fluid and set it on fire with a flaming broom. The small patch of water went up in flames so high and so quickly that it caused a mass panic from the audience and a riot broke-out - causing the band to pack up and leave the venue sharpish. They were banned from playing there again.

The Melvins

The band that heavily influenced Nirvana - The Melvins are perhaps more heavy metal than grunge, but considering that they came from Seattle and were a big influence on the genre, it's wrong not to mention them. Their name came from the lead singer's (Buzz Osbourne) manager at a local thrift store.

Kurt Cobain even jammed with them and by default became a roadie for them. Nirvana bassist, Krist Novoselic even jammed and rehearsed with them too.

They have had a number of band members, but the two constant ones are Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover. They released their first EP in 1986, and their first album in '87, with Gluey Porch Treatments. They are still touring today.

Green River

This grunge band is perhaps the least commercially well-known out of the three, but some of the members of Green River went on to become world-renowned stars in bands, such as Pearl Jam and Mudhoney.

The band was formed in 1984 by Mark Arm and Steve Turner decided to create a new band after playing in Mr Epp. They came up with the name after the Green River Killer, a well-known serial killer within that region at the time. 

They are considered to be one of the first grunge bands, along with The U-Men, but they only lasted for 4 years. However, they did reform in 2008-2009 for a number of live performances. In 1988 they released Rehab Doll on Sub Pop Records and in 2016, released a 1984 demo album. 


What do you think?

Are they are any other grunge bands that you wanted to see on this list?

Comment below.