Hello from the History Department —
So this happened last week…
YES! You are correct. That’s Nirvana co-founder and bassist Krist Novoselic, signing an album for one of the Andersen Construction crew in their offices across from the Elks Temple before our tour of the property.
When we posted this image on the McMenamins History Facebook page, some of the comments included:
“Jealous. Too cool!!!”
“I’ve always loved that guy.”
“Anyone else not recognize him in a suit??”
As a former Tacoma resident (1988–91) and a fan of Pacific Northwest history, Krist was pleased to get a glimpse of the work-in-progress Elks Temple. We’ll be naming a guest room for him at the hotel, based on the time he lived in Tacoma, when Nirvana played its earliest gigs in a local community hall. “The World Community Theater attracted Tacoma youth; we had no money, but being there was like being part of a community…. If we made $100 back then, that was a ton of money for us.” Nirvana released their first album, Bleach, in 1988 while Krist was living in Tacoma and bandmate Kurt Cobain was in Olympia. Although critics raved, the album initially achieved little mainstream success.
And then we know what happened next – the band was launched into the stratosphere with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the first single off their second album Nevermind (1991). That song has been called one of the best in rock music history, while the album has been deemed one of the greatest of all time. Bleach was subsequently re-released and became the best-selling record to date for independent Seattle label Sub Pop. In 1994, Nirvana disbanded following Cobain’s death. In 2011, Rolling Stone placed the band at number 30 on their list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, in its first year of eligibility.
Incidentally, on my drive from Portland to Tacoma to meet with Krist, Nirvana came on the radio three different times on various stations. Later, when I mentioned this to him, he said, “Huh… weird… ka-ching.” We laughed, but you can’t help but reflect on the incredible highs and tragic lows that came along with the band’s enduring success and worldwide influence.
Krist has since gotten his college degree, written a book called Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix This Broken Democracy (2004), run for public office and currently sits on the board of the Washington State History Museum. He even suggested that McMenamins History Department partner with the museum for a Tacoma-based History Pub series sometime after the opening, which we hope to do. He was also recently reelected as Master of the #124 chapter of the Washington State Grange. And in the meantime, he is working on a second album with his latest band, Giants in the Trees. He says he hopes he can make it to the hotel’s opening since he is a fan of McMenamins. After a rambling, colorful interview with him over pizza, a walk around downtown Tacoma and the Elks tour, Krist got on a public bus to Seattle, where he was staying for the night before heading back home to his place in Grays River, WA (pop. 263).
[Shown: Chris Merril from Andersen Construction, Krist Novoselic and McMenamins assistant historian Kerry Conroy after a tour of the Elks Temple, 11/29/18]