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Music

The Led Zeppelin song Prince and Dave Grohl jammed to

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl first met 1980s pop icon Prince in 2011 during his 21-night residency at the LA Forum. As part of the Grammy Salute to Prince in 2020, Grohl described the encounter. “He did this 21 night run at the Forum in Los Angeles,” Grohl explained. “So, of course, me and all my friends are like, ‘Oh my god, we gotta go to at least one show.’ So we go down to one of the shows. We get in this big party bus, like 20 people.”

Grohl continued, “So by the time we pull up to the Forum, I’m like hammered. We’d been partying the whole way in traffic down to the Forum. We get to the Forum, we go up to the little VIP club thing, and our security guy Kerwin, who also worked with Prince, comes up and says, ‘Hey, he knows you’re here. He’s gonna call you up to jam.’”

Usually, Grohl would have been delighted to hear such news, but in his current state, he felt that he would embarrass himself, or worse, embarrass Prince. “I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. I’m already like… I’ve had one too many already. I’m not going up there with Prince like this. Anybody else in the world, I would jump up on stage and make a mess, but Prince, no way.’”

Grohl added: “So after the show, Kerwin says, ‘Hey, he wants to meet you.’ I said, ‘Alright.’ He’s like, ‘Go in there.’ And I open up this curtain, and there’s Prince and Sheila E. I’m just like [imitates being mindblown]. My ’80s brain exploded. I’m like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’”

“We start talking, and he said, ‘Yeah, we should jam sometime.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.’ He goes, ‘When do you wanna jam?’ I said, ‘It’s your show; you’re here for a month. What do you think?’ He goes, ‘Come back Friday.’ Cool.”

After evading a drunken embarrassment that night, Grohl was excited to have been offered another chance to jam with one of his heroes. Later that evening, Grohl called up his manager and said, “Oh my god, dude, I’m gonna jam with Prince. I can’t believe it; I just talked to him; this is amazing.” Grohl’s manager explained that he knew and had already sent his number to Prince.

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Grohl, clearly restless with excitement, waited to hear back from Prince on his phone. “I sat with that phone in my hands for a week, on vibrate, sleeping with it near my head, the whole thing, waiting for him to call. He never called. So, finally, by Thursday, I’m calling people like, ‘What is he-like what am I doing? Am I playing guitar, am I playing drums? Are we doing a Prince song, we doing a Foo Fighters song? What are we doing?”

As it transpires, Prince, a famously elusive and unpunctual character, had completely forgotten about his offer to Grohl earlier in the week. In fairness, Prince was also under a great deal of pressure at the time with his marathon run of performances too. After a nudge from his friends and a shortage of patience, Grohl finally decided to go back to the Forum. “So that Friday, I go down there, pull into the arena. Kerwin says, ‘He’s not sound checking today. His voice is messed up.’ I’m like, ‘OK, great.’ I go into catering, I eat something, and I think, ‘OK, I’m just gonna go check to see if my gear is here.’”

He added: “I walk out into the arena, it’s empty, and I’m talking to my guitar tech, and all of a sudden, just like that ‘SNL’ skit with Maya Rudolph, he just like appears.”

Grohl then explained to Prince that he was under the impression that the two of them were to jam. Prince simply told the former Nirvana drummer to take a seat behind the drum kit. “I start playing, he’s kinda watching me, then he looks at his bass player, he’s like, ‘Give me the bass.’ He starts playing bass. Now we’re playing together, and he’s kinda checking me out. Then he’s like throwing hand signal chord signs like ‘A’ or ‘C,’ and it turns into this thing.

“Empty arena. Like nobody in there. I’m like, ‘Oh god, this is amazing.’ Then we end, and we’re all like high-fiving each other. He goes, ‘Man, you’ve got a heavy foot.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I got a heavy foot. This is amazing [Under his breath]’.

“Then he picks up a guitar and starts playing ‘Whole Lotta Love’ by Led Zeppelin [Imitates the song’s opening riff]. So I’m like [Imitates drumming noise]. And it was awesome. It sounded so good. It was amazing. We do that for like eight minutes. I’m like, ‘Oh god, this is the best band I’ve ever been in in my life. This is unbelievable.’ Then we end it, and he’s like, ‘That’s amazing, we should do that!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, we should do that!’ And he goes, ‘What are you doing next week?’ [Pause] And I never saw him again. [Laughs] I had a school fundraiser. The end.”

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