Dave Grohl has a long and storied history. Still only 53-years-old, Grohl has solidified his presence in music as one of the all-time greats, playing pivotal roles in arguably two of the most important bands of all time.
While many remember his early footings in alternative music as the drummer of Nirvana, Grohl’s roots and formative years were firmly placed within the realms of punk rock. Having been given his first taste of music at the age of 13 while attending the concert of Naked Raygun, Grohl would lean on the heavier side of alternative music, a stylistic choice which ultimately led him to play the drums in bands such as Scream at the age of 17. Grohl later recalled: “From then on we were totally punk. We went home and bought Maximumrocknroll and tried to figure it all out”.
Becoming a fan of bands such as Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, Melvins and countless others, Grohl was slowly working his way through the underground rock world, building a reputation as a violent but extremely dependable drummer. It would be this groundwork which ultimately led him to join Nirvana in 1990, a decision that would change the course of music forever.
While Grohl’s early taste in music was what made him into the drummer he later became, it was also his willingness to explore stylistic developments in genres outside of punk and, later, grunge. Famously, bands such as Rush and Led Zeppelin played a pivotal role in his development, with Grohl later stating that Neil Peart was the ultimate influence: “It fucking changed the direction of my life,” he said of Rush album 2112. “I heard the drums. It made me want to become a drummer,” he added.
While the classic rock leanings had an undeniable impact on his life, Grohl went back to his youth when naming his all-time favourite record. As part of an article revealing his 10 favourite albums, Grohl picked out one specific record as the LP that means the most to him. Discussing Bad Brains’ 1983 effort Rock for Light, the Foo Fighters frontman said: “This might be my all-time favourite record. It was the first time I’d heard a hardcore band that had that supreme musicianship, but kept it kind of simple – four black guys from Washington DC who laid every other hardcore punk rock band to waste”.
Grohl added: “They were amazing. They were Rastafarians, so they’d throw in a little bit of reggae just to mellow out the punks or something. And they were the most amazing live band in the world. They’re just great. Really, really, really, really great.”
Rock for Light arrived as the second full-length record by Bad Brains, a band widely revered as the pioneers of hardcore punk. Released in 1983, the record is now glorified in cultural significance. Having been produced by the great Ric Ocasek of The Cars, the album is propped up by now-iconic tracks that were re-recorded songs from the band’s first album. That, combined with their ability to blend punk with reggae like no other, allowed Bad Brains to create a masterpiece.
Stream the album in full, below.