but i dont think that, besides mainstream media, Kurt would have only been remembered for 'smells like teen spirit'
Oh I don't know. Jimi Hendrix and Eddie van Halen are pure legends, way bigger than Kurt Cobain in every way, but if you ask an average guitarist to name some of their music, I don't think many of them will get further than Voodoo Chile and Eruption.
I think to most people (including guitarists), a lot of so called 'guitar heroes' are nothing more than a name and one or two 'signature songs'. Only the fans would actually be familiar with a decent part of their work.
At least, that's how it is with me. I don't like most of Hendrix' work, so I only know 4 or 5 tracks that I actually like. The rest I heard once, but wasn't interested in, so I forgot it again. Same with a lot of other guitar heroes, I just 'browsed' their work and forgot it again. I just know the names because they have to be known, they're heroes after all. And I am vaguely familiar with their sound and playing style, so I have some sort of mental image of what they are about, but it has no detail.
But Satriani, Malmsteen, Van Halen, MacAlpine etc... yea I am (or was) a fan of them, and listened to a lot of their music. But people who can't appreciate that sort of 80s shred metal, well they would probably not like any of that stuff, because it's rooted quite heavily in that genre.
I really don't think Nirvana made any songs that are worth listening to for anyone who's not a big fan of the band or music style in general. Just no memorable, epic masterpieces. The music is very limited.
I suppose that's where a band like Queen is different. Their music is so rich and varied, it is above and beyond a certain genre. There is something in it for everyone to like. I still hear Queen being played on mainstream radio on a daily basis. Haven't heard Nirvana on any mainstream stuff in ages. Their music simply doesn't reach beyond the era and musical genre in which it was created.