Huge Grunge Star Almost Joined Nirvana: ‘It Was A Scam’

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Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd discussed almost joining Nirvana in a recent WeldBHam interview.

“Yeah. I did a tour as lead guitar player for them. It was all a set-up. It was a scam, just appeasing me to see if I’d fit or not. I went out on tour with them, and they said, ‘Oh, don’t bring your guitar, we’ll have one for you.’ So we went on tour, and then I wound up only playing the soundcheck in Minneapolis, which was the first stop on the tour, at some little bar. We did the soundcheck, and I played Kurt’s guitar, because he was out back being sick. And that was the only time I played with them. The rest of the tour, I was just a glorified T-shirt salesman. That’s all they really wanted.

I never played except for that soundcheck. Then we got to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where we had a few days off, and I could have easily rehearsed and learned all the old tunes that they do, and they decided right then, ‘No, we’re just going to stay a three-piece.’ Which is what I told them in the first place when I went out on the road with them, right? I was like, ‘All of us in Seattle think you should just stay a three-piece.’ So I wasn’t hurt at all, but the only thing that bothered me was that I’d skipped my brother’s wedding to go out on that tour. But who cares, you know? We were out playing music — but I wanted to play, you know?”