As is often the way with iconic musicians that have departed this mortal coil far too soon, their legacy is amplified to new levels of stature. As fans struggle to hold back the feeling of ‘what could have been’, we delve deeper into history to unearth hidden gems and stories that allow us a peek behind the curtain.
A little while ago, a rare interview with Nirvana’s late and great frontman Kurt Cobain surfaced, one in which the grunge pioneer heaped praise on drummer Dave Grohl. Grohl, who joined Nirvana in 1990 and replaced Chad Channing, enjoyed major mainstream success with the band that had previously seen Aaron Burckhard, Dale Crover and Dave Foster sitting behind the kit.
On reflection, Dave Grohl may well be one of modern rock’s greatest frontmen, taking Foo Fighters to stadium-sized success as well as worldwide recognition. That said, his career got a major jump-start in the early 1990s when he got his lucky break to play alongside Cobain and Kurt Novoselic in Nirvana. It was a move that rescued the band as much as it rescued him.
Finding the perfect drummer was a quest that Novoselic and Cobain found themselves on ever since they moved to Tacoma and Olympia respectively to form Nirvana. They initially practised with Dale Crover of the Melvins – who played on their first demos – but he then moved to San Francisco and appointed his friend Dave Foster as his replacement. However, Foster’s tenure with the band would be unfruitful and he would leave the group after a short few months—but at least he still gets to tell people today that he used to be in Nirvana, albeit momentarily.
Desperate for some stability, a mutual friend would introduce them to drummer Chad Channing and, after a short back and forth, the three musicians agreed to jam together. That said, he was never formally asked to join the band but played his first show in May 1988. Following the somewhat heady success of Bleach, they began work on their sophomore effort in April 1990. With a clear determination, Cobain and Novoselic quickly became disenchanted with Channing’s limited drumming capabilities which they thought was hampering the band. Channing was equally frustrated at his bandmates for not letting him be involved in the songwriting process and he soon left the group by ‘mutual consent’.
Meanwhile, as chance would have it, Dave Grohl’s band Scream had suddenly split up and he called his friend Buzz Osbourne for advice about what to do next. Buzz knew Nirvana needed a drummer so made the call and Grohl was given the opportunity to audition and the rest, as they say, is history. Grohl would become the mainstay of the band, solidifying the group’s presence at the top of rock and roll.
While his influence often goes somewhat under the radar, a rare interview with Cobain was unearthed by Studio Brussels, a radio station in Belgium which took place in Ghent in November 1991. In the interview, Cobain says: “Krist [Novoselic] and I have been playing together for about four and a half years now with a few different drummers,” Cobain says in the interview. “Dave has been in the band for about a year. This is the first time we’ve felt like a very definite unit”.
Damningly, Cobain added: “The band is finally complete because all the other drummers we had pretty much sucked.”
Check out the full interview, here: