David Grohl formed his first band at age 10. He dropped out of high school to play with the hardcore group Scream before auditioning for Nirvana. Nirvana went on to be an international hit. After singer Kurt Cobain's death, Grohl formed a commercially successful alternative band called the Foo Fighters.
First as a drummer in Nirvana and then as the frontman for the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl has become one of the leading figures in rock today. He moved from Ohio to Virginia when he was 3 years old. The son of a journalist and an English teacher, he lived with his mother and older sister Lisa after his parents divorced when he was 6.
After joining Nirvana, Grohl lived with Kurt Cobain for a time. Soon the major labels became interested in Nirvana, offering contracts with large advances. They ended up signing with Geffen Records. Their first release with them, 1991’s album Nevermind, became a huge hit, driven in part by the single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” While Kurt handled most of the songwriting duties, all three band members had worked on this track, which combined elements of punk, metal and pop.
The video for “Smells like Teen Spirit,” which offered a subversive take on a pep rally, got heavy play on MTV. In nearly a year’s time, Nevermind sold more than 4 million copies. Nirvana, with raw, emotional sound, helped launch what was called the grunge movement, which often captured feelings of alienation and frustration. They paved the way for other bands, such as Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, to become well-known national acts.
After Cobain’s suicide, the remaining members of Nirvana won a Grammy Award for their live recording on MTV called Unplugged in New York in 1994.
After Nirvana, Grohl formed the Foo Fighters. Initially, he was the entire band for its 1995 self-titled debut album, playing most of the instruments, singing the vocals and using songs he had written while still with Nirvana. The recording earned positive reviews and spawned two modern rock hits, “This Is A Call” and “I’ll Stick Around,” as well as “Big Me,” which also did well on the top charts. When it came time to tour, Grohl brought along bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith (both formerly with Sunny Day Real Estate) and guitarist Pat Smear (who had been part of Nirvana’s final tour).
The first Foo Fighters album as a band, The Colour and the Shape, came out in 1997. The album made it to the top ten of the album charts and featured such tracks as “Monkey Wrench,” “Everlong” and “My Hero.” Repeating this feat with 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose, the Foo Fighters won their first Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 2000. The album had one breakaway single in “Learn to Fly,” and the video for the song won the group their first Grammy Award in 2000 for Best Short Form Music Video.
Grohl established himself as a respected drummer with Nirvana; in 2014, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with former bandmates Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, in the group's first year of eligibility. In 2010, Grohl was described by Ken Micallef, co-author of the book "Classic Rock Drummers," as one of the most influential rock musicians of the last 20 years. In 2021, Grohl was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a second time as a member of Foo Fighters, also in their first year of eligibility.
Having directed numerous Foo Fighters music videos since 1997, Grohl debuted as a documentary filmmaker with 2013's Sound City, followed by the documentary miniseries Sonic Highways (2014), and the 2021 documentary What Drives Us. Also in 2021, he published his first book, a memoir titled "The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music."
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