It’s rare that a musician is part of a legendary, world-renowned band, but it is even more atypical for a musician to take part in two. What’s even MORE unlikely is for this individual to remain humble, grateful, and kind. Dave Grohl is an inspiration and example for musicians and people alike who not only achieve greatness but endure tremendous hardships and are forced to not only move forward but stay optimistic in a time of pain and confusion.
Dave Grohl was born in 1969 in Warren, Ohio but grew up in Washington, D.C. After his parents’ divorce, he lived with his mother and has been known to grant her as the main influence in his positive upbringing and success in his career. Dave taught himself to play the guitar at age 10 and learned to play the drums while pounding pillows and playing along with some of his favorite songs. With no formal music education, Dave cannot read or write music and has always believed he may not be playing the “right way” but in the way that works best for him. With the blessing of his school teacher mother, Dave dropped out of high school at age seventeen and toured the world with the punk band, Scream.
After appearing on three of the Scream’s albums, Dave moved to Seattle in 1990 to audition for a little-known band with a drummer vacancy, Nirvana. Within his first year as Nirvana’s drummer, the band experienced great success with their album, Nevermind and their legendary song, “Smells like Teen Spirit”. Nevermind has gone on to be certified as diamond and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. Nirvana then produced follow up album, In Utero which also became a hit, selling over 15 million copies. With an abundance of success and fame, it would have been easy to assume that the members on Nirvana were on cloud nine.
Having experienced depression and drug addiction, lead singer and guitarist of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain committed suicide on April 5, 1994, only four years into the bands triumph. With the quick, tragic loss of a friend and the unexpected end of his beloved band, Dave Grohl was faced with overwhelming grief and uncertainty. He has said that the heartache kept him from not only playing music, but listening to it. Despite his trepidation, Dave knew the only way he would be able to handle the pain and move forward in a healthy manner was to resume listening and creating the music he loved.
While Nirvana was still together, Dave had recorded a solo demo named Pocketwatch which was never released and was a project he had taken on separately from the band. After Nirvana’s demise, Dave revisited Pocketwatch, wrote several new songs, and played each instrument on the recording. Unsure of what it would become, he named the demo Foo Fighters after his interest in UFO’s and a reference he had read in a book during that time. After it became clear of the direction the demo was headed, Dave found musicians to fill up the band and for the first time in his life, became a front man.
No one could have predicted the years of success and prosperity the Foo Fighters were to experience. 22- Years after their debut album, the Foo Fighters are now a household name and play their music all over the world. It would have been easy and predictable for Dave to give up after the loss of his friend and the end of Nirvana. The clear path for him was to resume playing drums in a different band and continue his life as a professional musician. Desiring more and having a deep passion for writing songs, Dave Grohl became more than the drummer for Nirvana, he became one of most well known and celebrated musicians of our time.
“Dave Grohl.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 08 July 2014. Web. 11 May 2017.
Prato, Greg. “Dave Grohl | Biography & History.” AllMusic. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2017.