David Eric "Dave" Grohl (born January 14, 1969) is an American rock musician, multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter who is the lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter for Foo Fighters; the former drummer for Nirvana and Scream; and the current drummer for Them Crooked Vultures. He has also written all the music for his short-lived side projects Late! and Probot as well as being involved with Queens of the Stone Age. Furthermore, he has performed session work for a variety of musicians, including Garbage, Killing Joke, Nine Inch Nails, The Prodigy, Slash, Juliette Lewis, Tenacious D and Lemmy Kilmister.
At the age of seventeen, Grohl auditioned with local DC favorites Scream to fill the vacancy left by the departure of drummer Kent Stax. In order to be lined up for the audition, Grohl had lied about his age, claiming he was 20. To Grohl's surprise, the band asked him to join. After waffling for a brief period, Grohl accepted the offer. Grohl dropped out of high school in his junior year; he said, "I was seventeen and extremely anxious to see the world, so I did it." Over the next four years, Grohl toured extensively with the band, recording a couple of live albums (their May 4, 1990 show in Alzey, Germany being released by Tobby Holzinger as Your Choice Live Series Vol.10) and two studio albums, No More Censorship and Fumble, on which Grohl penned and sang vocals on the song "Gods Look Down".
While playing in Scream, Grohl became a fan of Melvins and eventually befriended the band. During a 1990 tour stop on the west coast, The Melvins' Buzz Osborne took a couple of his friends, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, to see the band.
A few months later, Scream unexpectedly disbanded following the departure of its bass player. Grohl called Osborne for advice, and the latter gave Grohl's phone number to Krist Novoselic, who invited Grohl to Seattle. Grohl subsequently auditioned for the band, and soon joined them full-time.
At the time that Grohl joined Nirvana, the band had already recorded several demos for what would be the follow-up to their debut album Bleach, having spent time recording with producer Butch Vig in Wisconsin. Initially, the plans were to release the album on Sub Pop, but the band found itself receiving a great deal of major label interest based on the demos. Grohl spent the initial months with Nirvana traveling to various major labels as the band shopped for a deal, eventually signing with DGC Records. In the spring of 1991, the band entered the studio to record the album.
Upon its release, Nevermind exceeded all expectations and became a massive success, catapulting the band to worldwide stardom. At the same time, Grohl found himself fighting with his status in the band. While his drumming style was a significant element in the band's success, Grohl saw himself as just another in a long line of drummers. In his mind, Nirvana was the band that recorded Bleach; his arrival had altered that sound dramatically, and, as he saw it, not necessarily in a positive way. Though Grohl had been writing songs for several years, he declined to introduce his songs to the band for fear of damaging the band's chemistry. Instead, Grohl compiled his songs and recorded them himself, releasing a cassette called Pocketwatch in 1992 on indie label Simple Machines. Rather than using his own name, Grohl released the cassette under the pseudonym "Late!".
Following Cobain's death in April 1994, Grohl retreated, unsure of where to go and what to do with himself. In October 1994, Grohl scheduled studio time, again at Robert Lang's Studio, and quickly recorded a fifteen-track demo. With the exception of a single guitar part on "X-Static" played by Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs, Grohl performed all of the instruments himself.
At the same time, Grohl wondered if his future might be in drumming for other bands. In November, Grohl took a brief turn with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, including a memorable performance on Saturday Night Live. Petty asked him to join permanently, but Grohl realized that his future lay elsewhere, and thus he declined the invitation. Grohl's name was also rumored as a possible replacement for Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese, and Grohl even performed with the band for a song or two at three shows during Pearl Jam's March 1995 Australian tour. However, by then, Pearl Jam had already settled on ex- Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer, Jack Irons, and Grohl had other solo plans in the works.
After passing the demo around, Grohl found himself with considerable major label interest. Nirvana's A&R rep Gary Gersh had subsequently taken over as president of Capitol Records and lured Grohl to sign with the label. Grohl did not want the effort to be considered the start of a solo career so he recruited other band members: former Germs and touring Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear, and two members of the band Sunny Day Real Estate, William Goldsmith (drums) and Nate Mendel (bass). Rather than re-record the album, Grohl's demo was given a professional mix by Rob Schnapf and Tom Rothrock and was released in July 1995 as Foo Fighters' debut album.
During a break between tours, the band entered the studio and recorded a cover of Gary Numan's "Down in the Park". In February 1996, Grohl and his then-wife Jennifer Youngblood made a brief cameo appearance on the X-Files third season episode "Pusher". (The two can be spotted walking in the FBI building, just after the Pusher character has put on his phony pass. Grohl pauses to look at his watch.)
After touring for the self-titled album for more than a year, Grohl returned home and began work on the soundtrack to the 1997 movie Touch. Grohl performed all of the instruments and vocals himself, save for vocals from Veruca Salt singer Louise Post on the title track, and vocals and guitar by X's John Doe on "This Loving Thing (Lynn's Song)". Grohl completed the recording in two weeks, and immediately joined Foo Fighters to work on their follow-up.
In the midst of the initial sessions for Foo Fighters' second album, tension emerged between Grohl and Goldsmith. According to Goldsmith, "Dave had me do 96 takes of one song, and I had to do thirteen hours' worth of takes on another one. ... It just seemed that everything I did wasn't good enough for him, or anyone else." Goldsmith also believed that Capitol and producer Gil Norton wanted Grohl to drum on the album. With the album seemingly complete, Grohl headed home to Virginia with a copy of the rough mixes, and found himself unhappy with the results. Grohl penned a few new songs, recording one of them, "Walking After You", by himself at a studio in Washington, DC. Inspired by the session, Grohl opted to move the band, without Goldsmith's knowledge, to Los Angeles to re-record most of the album with Grohl behind the kit. After the sessions were complete, Goldsmith officially announced his departure from the band.
Speaking about the tension surrounding the departure of Goldsmith in 2011, Grohl said, "There were a lot of reasons it didn't work out... but there was also a part of me that was like, you know, i don't know if i'm finished playing the drums yet." He would also state, "I wish that I would have handled things differently..."
Dave Grohl on stage, 2006
The effort was released in May 1997 as the band's second album, The Colour and the Shape, which eventually cemented Foo Fighters as a staple of rock radio. The album spawned several hits, including "Everlong", "My Hero", and "Monkey Wrench". Just prior to the album's release, former Alanis Morissette drummer Taylor Hawkins joined the band on drums. The following September, Smear (a close friend of Jennifer Youngblood) left the band, citing a need to settle down following a lifetime of touring. Smear was subsequently replaced by Grohl's former Scream bandmate Franz Stahl. (Stahl departed the band prior to recording of Foo Fighters' third album and was replaced by touring guitarist Chris Shiflett, who later became a full-fledged member during the recording of One by One.)
Grohl's life of non-stop touring and travel continued with Foo Fighters' popularity. During his infrequent pauses he lived in Seattle and Los Angeles before returning to Alexandria, Virginia. It was there that he turned his basement into a recording studio where the 1999 album There Is Nothing Left to Lose was recorded.
In 2000, the band recruited Queen guitarist Brian May to add some guitar flourish to a cover of Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar", a song which Foo Fighters previously recorded as a b-side. The friendship between the two bands resulted in Grohl and Taylor Hawkins being asked to induct Queen into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Grohl and Hawkins joined May and Queen drummer Roger Taylor to perform "Tie Your Mother Down", with Grohl standing in on vocals for Freddie Mercury. (May later contributed guitar work for the song "Tired of You" on the ensuing Foo Fighters album, as well as on an unreleased Foo Fighters song called "Knucklehead".)