Happy Birthday Dave Grohl: Relive the Foo Fighters Rocker’s Best Moments

by Clayton Edwards

Dave Grohl is a living rock ‘n’ roll legend. His musical credits include two of alternative rock’s biggest bands: Foo Fighters and Nirvana. He has also been involved with a handful of other great rock and metal projects. Above all, Grohl is known to be one of the coolest and most down-to-earth rock stars on the planet. Today, the laid-back legend turns 52. To celebrate, we’re looking back at some of the high points of his life, career, and coolness.

Dave Grohl Finds Stardom With Nirvana

Nirvana formed in 1987 and released their first album, “Bleach” two years later. In 1990 Dave Grohl joined the band. The next year, they dropped “Nevermind,” an album that would change the face of rock music forever. With that incredibly successful album, Nirvana introduced the world to Seattle, Washington’s most famous musical export: grunge rock. After “Nevermind” the band released one more studio album and five live albums.

At the age of 22, Dave Grohl was at the forefront of a musical revolution. In 2014, R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe inducted the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

During his speech, Dave Grohl gave heartfelt thanks to the previous four drummers of Nirvana. He went on to say,  “We came from this underground punk rock scene where there really were no awards or ceremonies or trophies. It was all about doing it for real and the reward was doing it right and sharing a community of music, helping other musicians, and inspiring people.”  Even in accepting one of the highest honors in rock music, Grohl stayed humble.

The Rise of the Foo Fighters

Nirvana disbanded in April of 1994 after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Later that year, Dave Grohl started working on a one-man musical project called Foo Fighters.

While on tour with the legendary grunge band, Grohl would take his guitar along. In his downtime, he would write songs. However, he was so in awe of Cobain’s writing that he kept his songs to himself. Now and then, he would book studio time and record demos of his songs and covers.

Before the release of the first official Foo Fighters album, Dave Grohl recruited a band. Instead of staying behind the kit, Grohl decided to take over the role of guitarist and singer. He felt that it would have been natural to join another band as a drummer. However, he liked the idea of doing something unexpected.

About the first album’s songs, Dave Grohl told “Kerrang!” journalist Tom Bryant, “I didn’t want to say anything on that first album. I was deliberately trying to say nothing, in order to keep from saying something. I was afraid that people would read things into what I was trying to say. ”

Since then, Foo Fighters have released nine studio albums. They have won a dozen Grammy awards among several other accolades.

If you’ve ever been curious about the name Foo Fighters, it is a reference to UFOs. Allied fighter pilots during WWII referred to UFOs and other unexplained aerial phenomena as “foo fighters.” Grohl says if he knew he was going to stick with the band, he would have picked a different name. In fact, Grohl told “Clash,” “Had I actually considered this to be a career, I probably would have called it something else, because it’s the stupidest f—ing band name in the world.”

Probot – Dave Grohl Records With His Heavy Metal Heroes

Dave Grohl’s main bands, Nirvana and Foo Fighters, are both alternative rock. Even at their heaviest, they are still relatively mellow. While Grohl has had much success in this realm and obviously has a knack for it, he grew up on heavier music. For instance, in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech, he namedropped Bay-Area thrash juggernauts Slayer.

After years of cutting mellower tunes, Dave Grohl wanted to play metal. It was through this desire for heavier music that Probot was born.

It all started with Dave Grohl playing guitar on his couch. He would play until he found a riff that he liked, build from that, and then record it. These weren’t meant to be released. He didn’t even see them as songs. However, Grohl was inspired by Carlos Santana’s 1999 album “Supernatural.”

On that album, Santana invited several different musicians to feature on songs. It was in this spirit that Dave Grohl reached out to some of his heavy metal heroes. Among those was Cronos of the extreme metal band Venom, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, and doom metal pioneer Scott “Wino” Weinrich.

On the Probot album, Dave Grohl shows not only his love for heavy metal but also how well he performs heavier music. Several subgenres of metal are represented on the album and Grohl and company nail every one of them.

Coolest Guy in Rock Music

Dave Grohl’s various accolades and musical projects are only part of his fame. Even those who aren’t a fan of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, or Probot know Grohl as an all-around good guy. Despite being one of the biggest names in rock music, he doesn’t act like the typical rock star. There are several times where his down-to-earth demeanor and genuine connection to his fans have made him the coolest man in the room.

For instance, during a show with his band Them Crooked Vultures, Dave Grohl saw a young fan struggling at the front of the crowd. There was a time when mosh pit etiquette would have taken care of the issue by helping the little guy up and getting him out of harm’s way. This crowd had obviously forgotten their manners. Dave didn’t forget his. He stopped the show, got out from behind his drum kit, and brought the kid and his dad on stage. They watched the remainder of the show from the side of the stage.

One of the most famous moments of Dave Grohl giving it all for his fans came in 2015. He was playing a show in Gothenburg, Sweden when he fell off the stage. Laying beside the stage, he announced, “I think I just broke my leg. I think I really broke my leg. So look! You have my promise right now that the Foo Fighters will come back and finish this show… Right now, I’m gonna go to the hospital. I’m gonna fix my leg. But then, I’m gonna come back and we’re gonna play for you again. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

The band promised to play a few fun songs for the crowd and come back at a later date. However, during a cover of “Under Pressure,” medics carried Grohl back on to the stage. One dedicated medic helped to support his leg while he finished the set.

Talk about not being a typical rock star. Several rock stars would have been out of commission for months. Axl Rose of Guns N Roses would end shows if he didn’t like the crowd. Others would feel a little off and cancel several dates. Not Dave Grohl. He played a sold-out show with a broken leg and a smile on his face.

Grohl talked about doing it for real and inspiring people in his induction speech. He has been doing that for decades and doesn’t show any sign of stopping.

Before we go, here’s a video from Nirvana’s legendary MTV Unplugged recording featuring a young Dave Grohl.