Watch rare footage of Dave Grohl’s first performance with Nirvana, 1990
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you the very first time legendary drummer Dave Grohl sat behind the kit for Nirvana.
From there, Grohl would be an ever-present behind Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic as they did their thing upfront. A moment in time that, for many fans, is as crucial as the first electric guitar being plugged in.
In the latter part of 1990, with the leaves turning brown, there was another relationship on the wane and beginning to lose its life. The burgeoning underground Kings of Grunge—AKA Nirvana—were growing tired of their drummer Chad Channing.
Channing’s inability to smash through a set of increasingly powerful tunes was becoming an issue for the trio as stardom began to beckon. While he possessed the rhythm, there was a certain raw energy that lacked in his output. Soon enough the band were on the lookout for a new sticks man. Enter the young and vibrant Dave Grohl.
The young Grohl was on the hunt for his own new venture after his former band Scream, a group of hardcore punks from the bubbling Washington D.C. scene, had disbanded. With the help of Melvin’s frontman Buzz Osbourne, he would soon find himself a new home behind the fabled Nirvana drum kit. Osbourne introduced Grohl to Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic and, after a comparatively short audition, Nirvana as we know it was born.
Only days later Grohl would be thrust straight into the action and find himself behind one of the most important drum kits of his life, as the man with the sticks, he crashed through a set with Nirvana at the North Shore Surf Club in Olympia, Washington. It would be the first of many inspirational shows and make Grohl out as a superstar from the very beginning.
Were Cobain and Novoselic putting Grohl through his paces or was this just Nirvana’s way? Were they trying to blood their new gang member or was the new underground sound just this raw? It’s hard to guess. However you cut it, the performance was not a short set. The band flew through 20 tracks, five of which were covers, meaning Grohl had a lot to take in prior to getting on stage.
The songs played by Nirvana saw a heavy reliance on their debut record Bleach while the covers included Devo, Wipers, Shocking Blue and other, with the latter’s ‘Love Buzz’ also featuring on the band’s debut LP. It’s about as close to a musical baptism of fire as one might expect. But then again, this is Nirvana, isn’t it—what else does one expect?
The footage is a flash of the brilliance the band was destined to achieve. While Cobain and co had been making waves in their adopted hometown of Seattle as underground Kings, the ‘big time’ and all the trouble it brought with it, was just a few miles over the horizon.
They were not only going to change a 21-year-old Dave Grohl’s life, but countless others across the globe. From their inception until present day Nirvana are still regarded as one of the pillars of modern music.
While Cobain gets a lot of the credit, without Dave Grohl, Nirvana would’ve been a rudderless ship.