To call someone a jack of all trades often seems like a backhanded compliment when you consider that it is often followed by ‘master of none’. However, Dave Grohl defies that follow up by excelling in most of the musical pursuits he embarks upon, whether that be behind the drumkit, riffing through a solo on stage, or crafting variant ditties in the writing room.
Part of the reason he thrives in all areas is because of the wide scope of his musical appreciation and understanding. He might now specialise in stadium rock, but that doesn’t stop him from delving into the subtle complexity of old AM Radio classics, revelling in George Martin’s production sound with The Beatles and a number of other wide-ranging inspirations behind his work.
However, when it comes to his current musical mainstay behind a six-string there are two forces that he admires the most. When speaking with GQ, the former Nirvana star declared his favourite guitarist to be Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. Grohl asserted: “I love the way that he was always teetering on the edge of total chaos, but he knew how to place every note in a space that really drew emotion.”
Continuing: “So when you watch a movie like ‘The Song Remains the Same,’ or any live footage from 1971 or 1973, or 1975, and even the earlier stuff, he’s just going for it. It’s that sort of fearlessness that I respect most in musicians, not perfection or any sort of clean technical proficiency.”
This fearlessness resulted in an unmistakable sound. Inspired by the late great Link Wray, Page was all about cramming a sense of orchestral atmosphere into his work more so than pushing any technical boundaries. “I really like to see musicians right on the edge of falling apart. He did that in the most beautiful way,” Grohl says.
However, there is another contender for the crown who the Foo Fighters man was quick to throw into the mix. And once more, it was a figure who excels with atmosphere and attitude more so than virtuoso ability. “That being said, there is an instrumental record by an American legend named Ry Cooder. He scored a  movie called Paris, Texas in the ’80s, and the soundtrack to that film is my favourite album of all time,” Grohl continued.
Concluding: “It sort of paints this sort of barren desert landscape, but he does it with a slide guitar. It’s just so simple and emotive, and amazing. So one of those two.” Much like Grohl himself, part of the success of the Cooder’s work comes from his appreciation of eclectic influences. The cinematic musician travelled to Cuba and beyond bringing acts like Buena Vista Social Club to the masses which aided an understanding of how geography and culture affect the very sound of music and he poured this into his own desert encapsulating project.