Grohl’s storyteller reveals long list of famous friends


The narrator

Tales of life and music

By Dave Grohl; Day Street Books (384 pages; $ 19.26)

NEW YORK – It’s hard to think of a current musician as universally accepted into the rock ‘n’ roll fraternity as Dave Grohl.

The leader of the Foo Fighters regularly dines with Paul McCartney. He wrote and recorded a pandemic era song with Mick Jagger. Joan Jett read bedtime stories to her daughters. He formed a band with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. He threw a party for AC / DC with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band as surprise artists.

An outgoing personality who takes his music more seriously than he does himself, Grohl naturally attracts people. Besides, how can you not love a guy who shows up at the gates of the stage with a broad smile and a bottle of whiskey?

“I’m like the Labrador of rock ‘n’ roll,” he laughs.

Grohl had no shortage of materials when he decided to spend much of his forced downtime writing a book called “The Storyteller,” on sale Tuesday. Call it the typical story of a high school dropout who becomes Nirvana’s drummer and then, after unspeakable tragedy, morphed into a singer, songwriter, and guitarist for a band that sells arenas.

And, at 52, he still listens to his mom.

In fact, he counts his mother Virginia as one of his best friends. As he writes in “The Storyteller”, she influenced him to join Nirvana.

His time as a drummer for Scream, the Washington-area punk band Grohl left high school to play the drums for, was drawing to a close. But he was loyal and conflicted when he received an invitation to come to Seattle in 1990 and jam with Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic.

“I called my mom and said ‘I don’t know what to do’,” Grohl recalls in an interview. “I mean, they’re my brothers. They’re my friends. It was my band. And she said, ‘Sometimes you have to do what’s best for you,’ which was funny because her whole life was devoted to others as a teacher and a mother. “

Grohl lived in a tattered apartment with Cobain as the band prepared material for what would be their groundbreaking album “Nevermind”. He sensed when they left to record it that they would never return to this apartment, but no one could anticipate their explosive success.

It was too much for Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994.

“I don’t think anyone is entirely designed to come out of such a situation unscathed,” Grohl said. “But I was lucky because I had Virginia, the State, and my mother. If I ever felt like I was swallowed up by this thing, I would retire to Virginia and go back to there. old dead end where I grew up and barbecuing with my old friends … and it really saved me in so many ways. “

Unlike Cobain, “I wasn’t the one who had a microphone pushed in my face every five seconds. with the band was very different. “

After Nirvana, Grohl faced a career crossroads when offered a position as a drummer in Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers. Working for a musician he grew up listening to, in one of the best rock bands, that defined job security.

But he said no.

“Every time I sit on a drum stool, I see Kurt,” he recalls. “I had some sort of musical PTSD, and I was scared to let myself go. When Tom Petty asked me, I wasn’t ready to go yet.”

Around the same time, he wrote and recorded the songs that would become the Foo Fighters debut album. Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t exactly filled with drummers who come out from behind the kit and take another instrument to become a conductor.

What gave Grohl the confidence he could do?

“It was the lack of confidence,” he said. “I don’t know a lot of people who tie a bungee confident they’ll survive the fall. That’s why you do it. Not being sure about yourself can be a big motivator. You know, I don’t. not sure I can do it. Let me see if I can. Let me prove that I am wrong. So, yes, it took me a decade to become comfortable as the frontman and singer of the Foo Fighters. Now I love it. “

He vividly remembers the “first day of the rest of my life” when, as a young teenager visiting his cousin in Chicago, he was taken to his first punk rock club.

Grohl grew up with posters of Kiss and Led Zeppelin on the walls of his bedroom, but they represented a distant life.

“It just seemed unattainable,” he said. “I thought it was fun dreaming, but I could never do it. And then I walked into that corner bar in Chicago and stood my chest against the stage as a punk rock band played. four chords and was screaming in my face. I thought, it’s more powerful than any record I’ve heard in my life. “

It was, he thought, something he could be a part of.

The message that burns through “The Storyteller” is addressed to those who watch it on stage now: deep down, I am like you. I worked hard to get to where I am, but I was obsessed with the same music as you. I am a fan.

This thought also comes to my mind when Paul McCartney is in Grohl’s living room, hitting “Lady Madonna” on the piano to his children.

Truly. It happened.

This is what he has in common with McCartney, Jett or the musicians whose posters hang in countless rooms.

“Put two musicians in a room and you will quickly make friends,” he said. “You can feel the energy of a young child falling in love with rock and roll in front of his record player. I think we all came from the same place – we fell in love with rock and roll and without any sort of true professional aspiration devoted our lives to it because it is what filled our soul. “

–By David Bauder

The Associated Press

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