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Washington state has contributed many talented musicians to the American music scene. Several cities in the Puget Sound region are well known as major hotbeds of musical innovation. The Greater Seattle Metroplex also boasts several excellent classical orchestras and symphonies. These groups perform at various venues in and around Western Washington.
Seattle is well known as the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix, who is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential guitarists in rock music history. Seattle is also known for being the birthplace of grunge. Grunge music began as a mixture of heavy metal and punk rock, and arose from the hesher scene in Seattle during the 1980s. The earliest bands included Green River and Soundgarden, among others, most signed to legendary indie rock label Sub Pop. By the late 1980s, several future stars had begun performing, including Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Mudhoney, while the death of Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone led to that band’s disintegration and subsequent reformation as Pearl Jam. In 1991, Nirvana’s Nevermind, along with Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, Pearl Jam’s Ten and Alice in Chains’ Dirt brought grunge to the top of the national charts, where it stayed for some years, until Kurt Cobain’s death and the departure of several major bands. However since Cobain’s tragic suicide, there arose post grunge in Nirvana’s ashes with Dave Grohl from Nirvana on a new band and label with the more radio friendly band Foo Fighters.
Nearby Tacoma and Olympia have also influenced the music industry. Riot grrrl is a form of punk rock which arose in Olympia, Washington in the 1990s and was led by bands like Bikini Kill, known for their militant feminism and raw, uncompromising sound. The genre never achieved much success and soon died out, though stalwarts Sleater-Kinney did stick together and found themselves approaching mainstream audiences after the turn of the millennium.
Notable Northwest singers and bands include, Bing Crosby (Tacoma, Washington), The Kingsmen (Portland, Oregon), Heart (Seattle, Washington), The Presidents of the United States of America (Seattle, Washington), Sir Mix-a-Lot (Seattle, Washington), Nirvana (Aberdeen, Washington, via Seattle), and Pearl Jam (Seattle, Washington).