Twenty years ago today, first-time director Samuel Bayer gathered several dozen fans and three young musicians on a Culver City, Calif., soundstage to film the video for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” a soon-to-be iconic clip — the infamous high school pep rally from hell — that ultimately would be as era-defining as the song itself.
Posted above, via LA Snark, is the casting call flier seeking Nirvana fans between 18 and 25, who were asked to “adopt a high school persona, i.e. preppy, punk, nerd, jock.” Participants were asked to show up at 11:30 a.m. and “be prepared to stay for several hours” — which turned out to be quite an understatement, as the shoot ended up dragging on for 12 hours.
Below, you can watch Bayer’s final video — as ultimately edited by Kurt Cobain — and here you can see a short “making of” feature in which Bayer discusses how he and the band worked out the concept and endured the grueling shoot, which culminated in the very real set destruction by both exhausted fans and Cobain and his surly bandmates.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” was sent to radio on Aug. 27, 1991, and released as a single on Sept. 10, 1991. Nevermind — due for a hefty 20th anniversary reissue next month — arrived on Sept. 24, 1991. And that following weekend, on Sept. 29, 1991, the “Teen Spirit” video premiered on “120 Minutes” — but it wouldn’t be relegated to the Sunday night alternative show for long.
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