From Peter, Paul and Mary to Nirvana in a few simple hops and skips? Easier than you think. Early in 1986, Kim Deal answered the following ad placed by singer Black Francis:
‘Looking for female bassist, high harmony, must like Hüsker Dü, Peter Paul & Mary, no chops.’
Deal didn’t own a bass, she wasn’t a bassist, but she was the only person to respond, and so got the gig, joining Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, and later drummer Dave Loveridge, the four forming the Pixies.
Two albums later, the Pixies had all but perfected their quiet-loud-quiet style, built on a rock-steady rhythm section, guitarist Joey Santiago’s surf explosions, and Black’s fragile/terrifying vocal shifts.
In 1991, Kurt Cobain took this blueprint, and ripped it off (by his own admission) while writing “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
It would be unfair to call the Pixies a band’s band, but they are one of that set of groups whose influence over successive generations of artists far outstrips their own commercial success. Oh, and if you don’t like the Pixies, then we need to talk.