Dave Grohl is a superhero. The man has done it all – he was in one of the biggest bands on the face of the earth, managed to start his own band and succeeded, dines with Paul McCartney, performs back-to-back sold-out shows and STILL flies across the world to show up to his daughter’s school dance.
In between all the major highs in Dave Grohl’s life, he’s faced his fair share of lows. He’s lost those close to him, most recently his beloved friend and Foo Fighter drummer, Taylor Hawkins. The man has lived – and continues to live – a storied life. No surprise his memoir was called The Storyteller.
Here’s a bit about Dave…
He’s Been Reading Lips for 20 Years
Yeah, so apparently, he’s deaf. Only recently (February 2022) has Dave announced his deteriorating hearing loss. He said he’s been reading lips for 20 years, chalking it up to the typical rock musician syndrome of hearing loss. “I’m a rock musician. I’m f***ing deaf,” he said. The pandemic hasn’t helped, he explained, as mask-wearing has naturally made it harder.
He told Howard Stern on his radio show, “If you were sitting next to me right here at dinner, I wouldn’t understand a f***ing word you were saying to me the whole f**king time.” The good news: he can still finely pinpoint sounds in the studio, thanks to decades of experience in the music industry.
It Doesn’t Seem to Affect His Music
When he makes a record, he explained, he can hear “the slightest little things.” He said his ears are “still tuned in to certain frequencies,” and if he hears something out of tune “or a cymbal that’s not bright enough,” he can hear “the minutiae of everything we had done to that song.”
He also performs live without wearing ear monitors. He’s been relying on the same audio technician for 31 years, so he feels confident enough to play without them. Ear monitors just distract him from sensing the band and audience at the same time. “It just messes with your spatial understanding of where you are on stage,” he told Stern.
Both Dave and Kurt Cobain Drummed With Their Teeth
Believe it or not, Dave had one single drum lesson, from jazz legend Lenny Robinson. For the most part, he taught himself how to drum by smacking pillows while listening to punk music and AC/DC. He also developed his own drumming technique for learning rhythms in his mouth of all places.
He was once kicked out of a dental surgery because of it. “I started doing it when I was a kid, and I was at the dentist, and he’s looking at my teeth,” Dave recalled. The dentist told him that he has “an unusual amount of deterioration.” When he demonstrated the drumming technique, the dentist kicked him out with a “Get out of here!”
Fun fact: Kurt Cobain could do the same thing.
Teenage Dreams Do Come True
When he was 13, he had a vision of his future in which he was a “titan of stadium rock.” He was just dumped by his girlfriend, Sandi, and he was deep in his teen angst when he had the dream of playing to an arena of roaring fans.
And there was Sandi, in the front row, crying of regret. Fun fact: 30 years later, during the Foo Fighters’ Wasted Light tour, Sandi showed up, and she was indeed right there in the front row. But she wasn’t crying. In fact, she flipped him the bird.
He Sold His Soul at a Séance
He was 17 and had an interest in mysticism, apparently. So much so that he made his own candle-lit shrine in his garage, decorated with John Bonham’s (of Led Zeppelin) infamous three circle logo and the number 606. It was all a part of him harnessing “the power of the universe to achieve my greatest desire,” which was, of course, rock stardom.
Dave later told Rolling Stone that once he did become a rock star, he was admittedly scared and wondered if he had sold his soul to the devil. “I got really scared that I sold my soul to the f***ing devil. At what point does Satan come to reclaim the contract I signed with him?”
The Ouija Board Session in Dave’s Haunted House
Back when Nirvana’s was at its peak fame, Dave bought his first home in Seattle. But it turned out to be pretty haunted. There were bangs, bumps footsteps at night – the whole shebang. He felt as though he was being followed through the house.
Oh, and he had recurring dreams of a soil-smeared elderly woman wandering the rooms. Yeah… So, this is why Dave decided to go mystical (again) and host a Ouija board session. Interestingly, it was at this session that he first met Nate Mendel (of Sunny Day Real Estate) who helped him form the Foos years later.
The Reason He Didn’t Sleep in a Van in Europe
Dave showed his rock star passion early on, and his dad wasn’t having it. James Harper Grohl told his son that that a career in music wouldn’t last. It took decades for Dave to understand his dad when he had told him, “Please don’t get in that van with six stinky older men and sleep in squats for two and a half months in Europe.”
Dave revealed that his dad’s words stuck with him – they inspired him to pursue a successful career. As for his mom, she was “always very supportive and encouraged me to follow my own path.”
When Mama Grohl Drank Beers With Green Day
His mom might have a little too supportive, actually. Grohl revealed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that there was a time when he would take his mom with him on tour. She was a retired public-school teacher who had time on her hands. Instead of her doing “that cruise ship thing,” he invited her to come on the tour bus with the Foo Fighter gang.
She accepted and got to live it up with the band. After a show, Grohl would find his mom “drinking beers with Green Day upstairs and hanging out.” Fun side note: while on the road, Mama Grohl would make a point to talk to, and interview, other famous artists’ moms, like Dr. Dre’s, for one.
When the Nirvana Boys Were Living on Corn Dogs
Before Nirvana’s Nevermind album, Dave, Kurt, and Krist (Novoselic) were pretty poor. Even when the band was getting big, Dave was still sleeping on Kurt’s sofa in his one-bedroom apartment alongside their third roomie, Kurt’s pet turtle).
They were living on gas station corn dogs and Kurt’s special “Sh*t on a Shingle” dinner, which consisted of canned tuna, pepper, flour and toast. But that was saved for treat nights. Touring meant traveling in their rickety van, which leaked fuel. They had to sell equipment for food at certain points.
He’s Not Sentimental About It
But he doesn’t wear his Nirvana days as a badge. “I was in a huge band at one point in my life and I can’t believe that happened to me, but I’m not looking back.” I guess he’s not the most sentimental of guys. There are some nights that stand out, though, like after Smells Like Teen Spirit hit MTV, and Nirvana was touring coast to coast.
At one Dallas show, Kurt crowd-surfed and “brained” a security guard with his guitar. That’s when a full-on brawl kicked off. Kurt ran out of the club to catch a cab as he was being chased down by the guard’s vengeful gang of thugs.
His First Check Was for $400
In 1990, Grohl received an invitation to audition for an up-and-coming grunge act called Nirvana. The audition went well, so Grohl left his band at the time, Scream, and gave this Nirvana group a try.
The Scream guys were “bummed,” but Grohl knew a good thing when he saw it. The first check Grohl received with the band was for $400. Okay, it wasn’t a lot, but to him it was like “winning the f***ing lottery.” Grohl told Howard Stern that he blew the cash on a B.B. gun and video games.
After Kurt Cobain Died, Dave Tried to Escape
After Kurt’s death in 1994, Dave tried to escape the madness (and his heartbreak) by fleeing to Ireland. “After Kurt died, I really couldn’t even turn on the radio, and I put the instruments away – even hearing music hurt,” he told BBC Radio 4 in an interview. He said it was that way for a few months. So, he went to Ireland.
But all he saw was Kurt’s face on T-shirts and other memorabilia. A chance encounter with a hitchhiker led him to fly back home and focus on his future – a project that would become the Foo Fighters.
He Still Sees Kurt at the Microphone
Dave was exploring the 111-mile Ring of Kerry route in southwest Ireland. “I was winding around these country roads – so beautiful – and I was finding peace,” he recalled. He then stumbled upon a hitchhiker and considered picking him up.
Then he saw that he was wearing a Kurt Cobain T-shirt. At that moment, he realized that he “can’t outrun this thing, so it’s time…” And so, he flew home and immediately started recording those Foo Fighter songs. To this day, Dave confesses that he still sees Kurt at the microphone every time he sits at a drum stool.
He Could Have Been One of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers
25-year-old Dave, bandless and in need of a new project, recorded the first Foo Fighters album entirely solo. But he actually wrote the songs earlier, while he was still in Nirvana (Kurt gave his approval after hearing some of the demos). But Dave didn’t really know what they were for.
When he finally recorded the full album, he was only intending to give cassettes out to his friends. “I had to do it to survive, to get on with life. And I’m glad I did.” Funnily enough, he was then offered the drummer’s seat with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Maybe the opportunity was what he needed to put his foot on the Foo Fighter gas pedal.
Writing Foo Songs on Kurt’s Guitar
Grohl wrote a bunch of his Foo Fighter songs, including Friend of a Friend from their 2005 album In Your Honor, while in Olympia, Washington. It was a time when he and Kurt were sharing an apartment. “When I had just joined Nirvana, I didn’t have a guitar,” Grohl said.
He would play Kurt’s guitar, but Kurt was left-handed, so Grohl learned how to play it upside down. Because of it, he found “chords that you otherwise would never find.” After Kurt would go to sleep, Grohl, who slept on the couch, would spend the night playing guitar. But he had to be quiet “because I didn’t want to wake him up,” which is why he “started writing all these moody, whispery songs.”
The Time the Foos and Rick Astley Performed Together
Grohl and the Foo Fighters wrote a cover of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up (and even performed it with Astley himself). But when they did at the Summer Sonic Festival in Japan, they couldn’t help but notice how much it sounded like another song.
Grohl realized “that the arrangement is exactly the same as Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It turned out to be a sort of happy accident. “And then we walk out on stage and f***ing Rick Astley is standing on side stage.” As serendipity worked its magic, the fans got one hell of a show as they got both the Foos and Astley singing the song together.
Don’t Drink and Scoot
Back in 2000 in Australia, Grohl was at the Big Day Out festival. On their time off, Grohl and Foo’s drummer Taylor Hawkins rented some scooters to roam around the Gold Coast before their show at the festival. In fact, they rode the scooters to the show itself.
But Grohl had one too many beers during his ride, and he scooted right into the waiting arms of the cops. Foo Fighter or not, Grohl had to spend a night in the slammer along with some of his drunk fans. Oh, and he has a permanent criminal record in Australia. Cheers, mate.
The Time Foo Fighters Had to Follow Pantera
In 1998, Ozzfest saw Foo Fighters and Pantera play the same stage. The only reason the Foo Fighters were there was because Korn couldn’t make it. Grohl remembers watching Pantera “completely destroying the stage,” calling their set a “force of f***king nature.”
And then he and his band had to follow them. He said it was “like a blood thirsty Roman coliseum.” Regardless of being “dead meat,” Grohl and the guys hung out with Pantera backstage and enjoyed every second of it. Turns out the metal heads are sweet as can be.
Dude, Come to the Clubhouse
That’s a cool enough story on its own, but what followed the show was even more noteworthy. Pantera’s Vinne Paul handed Grohl a business card, inviting the frontman to their strip club — The Clubhouse, which was just outside of Dallas.
Not long after, Grohl and Hawkins started a cross-country road trip, detouring through Dallas to hang out with Pantera at The Clubhouse. The bad news: Grohl lost his wallet on the way. When they got to the club, they were rejected by the bouncers. Bummer.
Ever Heard of LEGO Synesthesia? Dave Has It
Since he was a little boy, Dave has “seen” music in the form of colors. Some people have this condition, called synesthesia, but his is a bit unique. Grohl explained how he has always learned the structures of songs by first envisioning them as different colored LEGO blocks.
Speaking of LEGO, you better believe there are Foo Fighter figures. In a full-circle turn of events, Grohl can not only see his musical notes, but play with his own mini LEGO version of himself at the same time.
Not Much Is Known About His First Marriage
Grohl has been married twice (the current marriage is going strong). His first wife was photographer Jennifer Youngblood. Not much is known about their early marriage from the mid-‘90s and that’s because Grohl chose to keep it private.
Youngblood, a one-time X-Files co-star, is a private person herself and not a public figure. According to The Guardian, infidelity played a role in their 1997 divorce. “I was 25, my wife was even younger. We weren’t ready to get married,” he said once. He also hinted that the song Everlong was inspired by her. Despite the divorce, Grohl harbors no ill will against Youngblood.
He’s Been Married to Jordyn Blum Since 2003
Jordyn Blum began her career as a model and met Dave after moving into media production. She started working for MTV before having three kids with the love of her life. They met in 2001 and tied the knot two years later.
They met by chance one night in LA at the Sunset Marquis hotel. The only reason Grohl was there was because he was Taylor Hawkins’ wingman for a date he was going on. Hawkins’ date brought a friend, too: Blum. Grohl was allegedly nervous and needed some liquid courage to start up with her.
From Foo Fighter to Super Dad
He had one too many and ended up scribbling his number on a piece of paper. On it, he wrote, “you’re my future ex-wife.” It worked because the two started dating soon after. Fast forward a few years, and they started making babies.
They have three daughters together: Violet, Harper and Ophelia. Becoming a dad changed Grohl. “I used to tour nine months out of the year,” he explained. “Now I don’t like being away from my kids for more than 12 days. It’s changed everything that I do.”
Dave Eats Hot Wings Like a Pro
Through all the burps, shots, and F-bombs, host Sean and Grohl threw back hot wings and talked about everything under the sun. Other than hearing Grohl’s awesome stories, viewers get to see just how down-to-earth and real the superstar musician really is.
Grohl is fan of Hot Ones himself, and one of his favorite episodes was the one Thunder Cat was on. If you haven’t watched the episode yet, it’s a must-see one. Not only is Grohl one of the most requested guests, but the host got emotional as the episode wrapped up.
He Almost Joined GWAR
When Grohl was living in the suburbs of Washington D.C., drumming his heart out, he was a serious contender for the role of GWAR’s drummer − so much so that he started designing the outfit he was going to wear.
The band’s guitar player, Dewey, told Grohl that as a drummer, he should have a costume that doesn’t cover your face fully and lets your arms be free. At the time, Gwar could draw in “like 700 people… which is huge,” Grohl said, but when he thought about inviting his family to watch him play as fake blood and other stuff is “shooting all over the place,” he reconsidered.
His 2015 Stage Accident Freaked Him Out
Grohl broke his leg on stage in 2015, and the injury became way more serious than he first imagined. Like “most aging men,” he still thinks he’s “f***ing 18 years old.” Simply putting a cast on it wasn’t enough.
His physical therapist basically told him that if he doesn’t follow his orders, he’ll be walking with a cane for the rest of his life. Freaked out, he played the good boy and followed his orders to do therapy three or four hours a day for six months. Part of his recovery was playing the drums, which his therapist also encouraged him to do.
Even Kurt Got Excited About Their Success
“We want to be the biggest band in the world,” Kurt Cobain once told a record company exec, while Grohl sat there, thinking his bandmate was joking. As strange as it may seem to hear that Kurt was enthusiastic about Nirvana’s success, it’s true. Just ask Grohl.
He recalled the time he and Kurt were sitting on twin beds in a hotel room on September 29th, 1991. They were watching the debut of Smells Like Teen Spirit on MTV’s 120 Minutes. They were both squealing like little kids. “We elatedly picked up the bedside phone and called room to room, shouting, ‘It’s on! It’s on right now!’”
The Beginning of the End
Did you ever see Nirvana’s January 1992 performance on SNL? Dave broke his drumstick live on camera at the beginning of their set, which was Smells Like Teen Spirit. That was also, as Grohl remembers, the start of a dark turn for the band. Two weeks later, when they shot the video for Come As You Are, Kurt showed up high.
“As we filmed the video, Kurt’s fragility came as a shock to me,” Grohl wrote in his memoir. “To this day, it is still hard for me to watch Come As You Are, knowing the state Kurt was in at the time.” He sees it as “a very clear picture of three people entering what would become a period of turbulence that we would feel for years.”
He Lost Kurt, for a Second, a Month Before He Died
Kurt had gone into a coma (from a painkiller overdose) on March 3, 1994, a month before his death. At the time, Grohl was given incorrect information – that his friend had actually died. Thinking Kurt was dead, Grohl fell to the floor, in a fit of “a more profound sadness than I had ever imagined.” A few minutes later, he got a call telling him his best friend was still alive.
“In the course of five minutes I had gone from the darkest day of my entire life to feeling born again,” Grohl wrote. Then, when Kurt really did die, Grohl felt as though his emotions were “blocked by the trauma from a month before.”
Losing Another Best Friend and Bandmate, Taylor Hawkins
Speaking of grief, Grohl sobbed when he learned of his friend and drummer’s death. Taylor Hawkins died of a cardiovascular collapse (from an overdose) in late March 2022 while the band was on tour in Colombia.
To Grohl, Hawkins was his “best friend and partner in crime” – his “brother from another mother.” The death came as a shock to everyone, despite the fact that the drummer had a history of drug abuse. The father of three had suffered a heroin overdose previously, in London in 2001, that sent him into a coma for a week.
They Bonded From the First Time They Met
Hawkins joined the Foo Fighters in 1997, and from the get-go, he and Grohl bonded. “We grew closer with every day, every song, every note that we ever played together,” Grohl wrote. At the time of writing his memoir, Hawkins was obviously still alive.
He wrote, “We are absolutely meant to be, and I am grateful that we found each other in this lifetime.” Apart from being a fantastic drummer, Hawkins had a voice, too, and would sometimes take the mic during the band’s concerts (like in 2008, when they performed with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, when he and Grohl switched positions on stage).
What Are Foo Fighters Anyways?
According to Grohl, Foo Fighters is “the dumbest band name ever.” That’s what he told Anderson Cooper in an interview. In his natural honest way pf speaking, Grohl admitted that “Had I imagined that it would last more than a month-and-a-half, I might have named it something else.”
Foo Fighters, by the way, was a slang term used for UFOs in World War II. As it turns out, Grohl has always been a UFO-believer. Ever since he was a kid, he had vivid dreams, many of them about UFOs. He would tell his friends that he was a UFO expert. It was in a book he read called Top Secret that he came across the term “foo fighters.”
Dave Grohl vs. Courtney Love
Grohl may have been Kurt’s best bud in the early ‘90s, but one person who was close (too close, even) to Kurt was Courtney Love. It’s unclear how Grohl and Love were to each other before Kurt’s death, but one thing we do know is that afterwards, things got heated between the two.
Both went on to endure a decades-long feud. By 2001, the two found themselves in court because Love was suing Grohl over the rights to some of Nirvana’s songs. Krist, Nirvana’s bassist, counter-sued Love, calling her out for just trying to promote her career.
The Bad Blood Continues
The next year, Love sued again. This time, she was trying to shut down the release of Nirvana’s unfinished song, You Know You’re Right. They reportedly ended up settling out of court. But there was still some bad blood.
The Guardian reported that Grohl called Love an “ugly f***ing b****” on stage. Years later, Love fired in her own twisted way, claiming that Grohl tried to seduce her (and Kurt’s) daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, who was 19. I think we (as Dave Grohl fans) can all agree that that is a bunch of baloney… to put it nicely.
The Hug Was for the Cameras
In 2014, Grohl and Love actually hugged it out at Nirvana’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, letting (some) fans everywhere breathe a sigh of relief after decades of tension. But let’s not be naive; it was for the cameras.
There are two Foo Fighters songs that people generally accept as Grohl’s diss tracks about Love: I’ll Stick Around and Stacked Actors. Stacked Actors is the more specific one of the two with references to dying blondes, liars, and Hollywood types who try to bend the truth to fit their own narratives.
We Know Who “Stacked Actors” is Really About
Even if the song secretly is about Love, Grohl has publicly denied that Stacked Actors is about her. But the lyrics – “Your teary eyes, your famous disguise/Never knowing who to believe” – have people saying otherwise. As for Love, she seems to take it all in stride.
For someone who has been through hell and back, a person who knows controversy like the back of her hand, she can handle it. For the time being, there hasn’t been a Hole song about Grohl, at least not an obvious one.
Half-Dollar Hits and Electrocutions on Stage
Breaking his leg on stage takes the cake, but Grohl has been injured while performing more than just once. “I got hit in the face with a half-dollar in Atlanta,” he said, referring to a show he did in 1996. But what might have been worse than that was the time he got electrocuted on stage.
The Foos were playing “some f***ing corporate gig” in Las Vegas for Doc Martens. “I thought it would be funny if I invite the whole audience into the pool with me during this jam,” Grohl recounted. But when he went back on stage, he stepped on the distortion pedal and basically convulsed from actual electrocution. “That sucked,” he said nonchalantly.
The Prince Story Part 1
Like thousands of other musicians, Grohl has dreamed of performing with Prince. In 2011, his dreams came true during Prince’s 21-night residency at The Forum in LA. It was Grohl’s security guy who gave Grohl the good news – that Prince wanted to jam with him and the guys.
The only thing is, Grohl had already drank quite a bit. His first reaction was, “No no no no no, I’ve had one too many already, I’m not going up there with Prince like this.” Luckily for him, Prince asked him to come back the following Friday.
The Prince Story Part 2
“I sat with that phone in my hand for a week, on vibrate, sleeping with it near my head, the whole thing, waiting for him to call, and he never called,” Grohl admitted. Still, when Friday rolled around, Grohl showed up, not knowing what to expect.
He walked into the arena, and it was empty. Then, all of a sudden, “Just like that SNL skit with Maya Rudolph, he just appears,” and asks Grohl, “you wanna jam?” With Grohl at the drums and Prince on bass, the band started jamming.
The Prince Story Part 3
After the first song, everyone was high fiving. Prince turned to tell Grohl that he had a heavy foot – a compliment he took to heart. That’s when Prince started playing Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. Grohl and the band were on cloud nine.
It was a perfect moment, but scheduling conflicts got in the way of them performing live together. Unfortunately, Grohl never got to join Prince on stage during a show, though he was invited back. But Grohl never saw Prince again.
This was just another Prince story – everybody seems to have one.
The Foo Fighters’ Comedy Thrasher Flick, Studio 666
We know by now that Grohl is a fan of the supernatural. Well, now his hobby has become bona fide with the comedy horror flick Studio 666. What started out as a “what-if” kind of joke (about Grohl becoming possessed, killing all his bandmates, and going solo) turned into an actual movie.
Grohl explained on his episode of Hot Wings that he brought up the idea as a joke, and before he knew it, “millions of dollars” are being thrown around and there are actual table reads taking place. The whole thing is a trip, and one that looks super fun to watch.
A Good Ol’ Barbecuer
Grohl is a barbecue fiend. He has a one-man catering company called Backbeat BBQ. He explained that he didn’t want to open a restaurant; rather, he wanted to “pull up at a Slayer show or a Harley dealership or a church or the L.A. Food Bank benefit and cook.”
For Grohl, the process of making music is a hell of a lot like cooking for a crowd. “You create a recipe as you would a song. You prepare a meal as you would record in a studio. And you serve it as you would perform live. When people come back for seconds, well, that’s your encore.”
His Fond Connection to David Letterman
True fans of Dave Grohl will have noticed that he has a real fondness for David Letterman, and only partly because they share the same name. Grohl eloquently explained how he simply likes “wicked smartasses” – Letterman being one.
Both Daves have shared a long-term friendship, which started when the Foos made their television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman in 1995. Eventually, their song Everlong became a song they played multiple times on Letterman’s show (the host would introduce them with, “Ladies and gentlemen, my favorite band playing my favorite song…”).
His Favorite Song by His Favorite Band
The song, Everlong, wasn’t even on the album the band was promoting, but anything for Letterman, especially since he had just returned from emergency quintuple bypass surgery. Letterman explained after the 2011 broadcast, “The song has always meant something incredibly personal and intimate and important to me and to my family.”
“I think we mean a lot to each other,” Grohl said in 2015 about his relationship with Letterman. Once, the Foo guys gave him a guitar, and he got “really emotional with” them. The Foo Fighters were also the final music act on Letterman’s Late Show in 2015.
Is Dave Grohl Jewish?
For some reason, one of the most popular questions people ask about Dave Grohl on Google is if he’s Jewish. The answer is no. But the singer has been paying homage to his Jewish fans by singing Hannukah songs for many years now.
Grohl does a cover of The Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop, which is one of eight songs involving Jewish artists. Grohl and producer Greg Kurstin have started a tradition called the Hanukkah Sessions.