Recently, we happened upon a video of Rage Against the Machine playing in a tiny record store in 1992, shot just before they were a big deal. Watching made us wonder what other '90s musical acts looked like before we'd heard of them, so we rounded up some early video and recordings of 10 old favorites.
1. Rage Against the Machine in 1992
In March 1992, RATM held a show in Zed’s Records. This was just five months after their first public appearance, and six months before the release of their first album.
2. Nirvana in 1988
That's Krist Novoselic's mom's basement. It would be a few months before the band released their first single, “Love Buzz,” and another two years before Kurt Cobain met Courtney Love. That’s Chad Channing on drums, who was later replaced by Dave Grohl. If you don’t watch the full six minutes, at least check out “About a Girl” at 3:25.
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1984
Within a few months of recording their first demo together, the group had a record deal with EMI and were performing live on television for the first time, introduced by an uncertain-looking Alan Thicke. (His awkward exit at the end makes the whole video.)
4. Mariah Carey in 1987 & 1990
Mariah was still in high school when she recorded her four-song demo with friend and songwriter Gavin Christopher. (The pair worked out of a basement.) In 1988, Carey's friend Brenda K. Starr introduced her to head of Columbia Records and future ex-husband Tommy Mottola. By 1990, Carey was making her television debut on the Arsenio Hall Show.
5. Weezer in 1993
In August 1993, Weezer had only been a band for about 18 months. It hadn’t taken long for them to get a record deal, though; they signed with Geffen in June of '93 and recorded their first album shortly afterward. This video was shot before Jason Cropper left and was replaced by Brian Bell.
6. Hanson in 1992
Look at them, with their tiny air guitars. In 1992, the Hanson Brothers were an a capella act specializing in hits from 1958. Their break came in 1996 when they unleashed “MMMBop” and earned three Grammy nominations.
7. Whitney Houston in 1982
This is Whitney’s first recorded lead vocal, but she wasn’t exactly new to the business in 1982. Houston sang background on Chaka Khan’s hit “I Am Every Woman” in 1978 (then recorded it herself for The Bodyguard). Before that, she toured nightclubs with her mother, Cissy, and sang in the church choir from age 11.
8. Alanis Morissette in 1985 & 1991
At the ripe old age of 11, Alanis co-wrote and released her first single, “Fate Stay With Me.” The song didn’t do well, but by 1991—just four short years before she gave us multiple bad examples of irony—Alanis became a mainstream act in Canada with her first hit, “Too Hot.”
9. Shania Twain in 1978
When she was almost 13, Eilleen Twain visited Opry North, where she performed Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and a song she wrote herself when she was ten, “Is Love a Rose.” In 1993, she changed her name and released her self-titled debut album.
10. No Doubt in 1987
When No Doubt headlined the 1987 Mod Expo, Gwen was a backup vocalist, her brother Eric played keyboard and wrote most of their songs, and cofounder John Spence was the lead singer. In December of that year, Spence committed suicide; the band broke up, then reformed soon after with Gwen as lead. Eight years later, the band released Tragic Kingdom and found mainstream success.