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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dave Grohl: Music Man

By Andrew Rich (Class of 2011)

Few artists in rock and roll history have switched bands and instruments with such an incredibly high amount of success as Dave Grohl. Able to play guitar, bass, drums and vocals, Grohl has managed to achieve fame in nearly every band he’s been in.

First known famously as the drummer of grunge band Nirvana, he has since moved on to form his own band, The Foo Fighters, where Grohl performs lead vocals and guitar. Thanks to tremendous album sales, a loyal fan following, and multiple awards, The Foo Fighters is one of the most popular and successful rock bands around today.
The success that Grohl has acclimated over the years is extraordinary to say the least. The Foo Fighters have won six Grammy Awards, three of which for Best Rock Album. They have also won two Grammy Awards for Best Hard Rock Performance for their songs “All My Life” in 2003 and “The Pretender” in 2008. Commercial success has also graced the band. Starting with their second release, 1997’s The Colour and the Shape, every album the band has since put out has been in the top ten on the US Billboard 200.
Commercial success has also graced Grohl. Nirvana has sold over 50 million albums worldwide, while six of the Foo Fighters’ albums have gone platinum.
Grohl’s previous band Nirvana is also not shy of success. A six-time Grammy nominee, the band won Best Alternative Music Performance for the 1994 live acoustic album MTV Unplugged in New York. Nirvana has also won numerous MTV Video Music Awards, including the video for their biggest hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
The members of The Foo Fighters create their sound by melding melodic elements with hard rock riffs.
“I love being in a rock band,” Grohl stated in 2005, “but I don’t know if I necessarily wanna be in an alternative rock band from the 1990s for the rest of my life. It might be nice to broaden our range, open up the dynamic, so we can go out and just make music.”
Born January 14, 1969, Grohl learned to play the guitar and drums while growing up in Virginia playing in various local bands. At the age of seventeen, Grohl auditioned for local Washington D.C. punk band Scream, earning the gig. Over the next four years, Grohl toured extensively with Scream, recording two studio albums, No More Censorship and Fumble. In 1990, the band broke up.
Needing a new band, Grohl relocated to Seattle to audition for Nirvana, which also featured singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bass player Krist Novoselic. When Grohl received the spot, the band was already working on the follow-up to its debut album, Bleach. After recording in 1991, Nirvana released Nevermind, undoubtedly the band’s biggest hit, as it featured iconic songs such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” “In Bloom,” and “Lithium.” The album also introduced the grunge sound to mainstream America, which captured feelings of frustration and alienation. Nirvana would release one more studio album, In Utero, before Cobain’s death in April 1994.
After riding high as one of the biggest bands in the world, Grohl soon found himself with nothing to do. He booked studio time to record demos of songs he had written over the years while on tour with Nirvana. With the exception of one song, Grohl played every single instrument and sang every vocal on the tracks.

Wanting to keep his anonymity, Grohl released the recordings under the title “Foo Fighters.” Grohl then formed a band to support the album, including bass player Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith, formerly of Seattle band Sunny Day Real Estate.

Signing with Capitol Records, the band released their debut album Foo Fighters in 1995, which featured all of the demos Grohl had recorded. “This Is a Call,” “Big Me,” “For All the Cows,” and “I’ll Stick Around” were released as singles.

After touring through the spring of 1996, Goldsmith left the band and was replaced by former Alanis Morissette drummer Taylor Hawkins. The band released their second album, The Colour and the Shape, in 1997, which included the popular singles “Everlong,” “Monkey Wrench,” and “My Hero.”

Pat Smear left the group in September 1997 and was replaced by Grohl’s former Scream band mate Franz Stahl, who soon departed prior to the recording of the band’s third album. Chris Shiflett replaced Stahl and has been with the band ever since.

The Foo Fighters’ third album, There Is Nothing Left to Lose, was released in 1999 with the hit single “Learn To Fly,” the band’s first Modern Rock #1 on the Billboard charts. This was followed with One by One in 2001, with two more smash hits, “All My Life” and “Times Like These.”

In Your Honor, The Foo Fighters’ fifth album, was released in 2005 and was a departure from previous efforts. A double album, the first disc was hard rock while the second was acoustic, featuring guest artists like John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Norah Jones.

2007 saw the release of the sixth Foo Fighters album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, which featured the Grammy Award winning song, “The Pretender.” The band’s next album, Wasting Light, will be released on April 11, 2011.

In 2009, Grohl formed yet another band, Them Crooked Vultures, a trio of influential musicians featuring Grohl on drums, Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on bass and keyboards, and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme on vocals and lead guitar. The band released their debut album, Them Crooked Vultures, in November 2009, and won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance with their song “New Fang.”

However, Grohl has also contributed to numerous bands and artists as a guest performer, including Paul McCartney, Arctic Monkeys, Tenacious D, Queens of the Stone Age, Slash, David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Tony Iommi and Garbage.

There is no doubt that Dave Grohl is one of the most versatile musicians of our time. Only time will tell of the
accomplishments that Grohl will achieve in his career.