Dave Grohl first became famous in Nirvana. After Nirvana split following Kurt Cobain’s death, he formed his own band Foo Fighters. But given how popular Nirvana was and are, does Dave Grohl sing any Nirvana songs?
Here is what I know from seeing them live:
Dave Grohl will perform Nirvana songs but doesn’t feel comfortable singing songs that Kurt once sang. He does, however, feel at home playing drums on those songs with surviving bandmates Krist and Pat in sporadic live concerts and at unofficial reunions.
While some might be frustrated that they’ll never hear Grohl sing any Nirvana songs, most Nirvana fans will probably understand Grohl’s point of view not to sing Kurt Cobain’s songs because it brings back painful memories.
But does he ever play them with Foo Fighters? And how often does he reunite with Krist and Pat to play Nirvana songs?
Let’s dive in!
Dave Grohl, 2003. Photo by Danny Clinch. pic.twitter.com/UmOAnNPi9O
— Classic Rock In Pics (@crockpics) June 3, 2021
Did Dave Grohl write any Nirvana songs?
Dave is credited on several Nirvana songs, such as “Aneurysm”, “Endless, Nameless”, “Even In His Youth”, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Scentless Apprentice”, and “Marigold” (B-side to Heart-Shaped Box).
It’s hard to tell if you hear Dave Grohl now, but there was a time he felt he lacked confidence in his songwriting ability and mostly refrained from writing songs, and Grohl just focused on being a great drummer.
He told CBS News:
“I didn’t think I was a songwriter. And I was in a band with one of the greatest songwriters of our generation, so I didn’t want to rock the boat.”
The only song the ex-Nirvana and the Foo Fighters founder has written on his own is “Marigold,” from his single “Heart-Shaped Box.”
I also discovered from a music forum that:
Dave had co-worked on seven songs in Nirvana which were never released. The fact was disclosed by a fan when he bought an original Nirvana album from eBay.
The album contained seven unreleased songs, including two never heard before songs, “Lullaby” and “Dumb”, claiming to have been recorded by Grohl.
But the truth remains inconspicuous.
Kurt considered Grohl to be his family and encouraged him to write songs and wanted him to achieve big in life. Still, when it comes to songwriting, Grohl secretly wrote several songs for Nirvana but enjoyed taking the back seat.
.@bostoncalling!!! We cannot wait to finally see you Memorial Day Weekend 2022!!! 🤘
Tickets are on sale now. Get yours at https://t.co/HOZG6px0yl pic.twitter.com/6bBNendCFE
— Foo Fighters (@foofighters) May 26, 2021
Who sings Nirvana songs for the Foo Fighters?
If Foo Fighters perform any song once performed by Nirvana, they were most often sung by drummer Taylor Hawkins prior to Hawkins’ death, with Dave Grohl moving to the drums or guest vocalists such as Joan Jett or Grohl’s daughter Violet.
But really, it’s rare for Foo Fighters to just play a Nirvana song.
What’s more likely (but still rare) is for him to get together with former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and guitarist Pat Smear who joined Nirvana in 1993 and play a few Nirvana songs.
But Dave still doesn’t sing them.
He’ll play drums since that was his role in Nirvana. And then again, someone else in the band or a guest vocalist will sing in place of Kurt Cobain.
And those vocalists include Pat, Krist, Chris Shiflett, Taylor Hawkins, or guests like I mentioned, including Joan Jett and Grohl’s daughter Violet who was born in 2006.
Dave Grohl and others at Kurt Cobain’s funeral pic.twitter.com/ckcU74L9iT
— Dan (@tooooder) July 20, 2019
What Foo Fighters song is about Kurt Cobain?
Dave has never felt comfortable talking about Kurt’s tragic suicide, but he once revealed that Friend of a Friend was an observation of Kurt and Krist.
There aren’t many occasions when Dave likes to talk about Kurt’s death. He describes the period as dark because he couldn’t listen to the radio after the tragic incident. He said in an interview:
“It broke my heart to hear music. I wrote songs: Marigold and Friend Of A Friend. It was an observation of Kurt and Krist, and I.”
The track hints at several habits of Cobain, like playing an old guitar that belonged to Kurt’s old friend, his drinking habits, etc.
According to Grohl, the lyrics describe Cobain’s habits:
He plays an old guitar
With a coin found by the phone
It was his friend’s guitar
That he played.
He thinks he drinks too much
Cause when he tells his two best friends
I think I drink too much
The Learn to Fly singer reminisces on time following Kurt’s death:
“Well, I realized when Kurt died that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. It takes funny turns. You’ll be numb. You’ll remember the good things; then you’ll turn and remember some dark times.”
Contrary to common sentiments, Dave has not dedicated any particular song paying tribute to Kurt officially, but Friend of a Friend does include pieces from Cobain’s life.
I love how Dave Grohl plays the Hi-hat and bass at the same time in “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam” on Unplugged. He’s a legend pic.twitter.com/Zh24Vi8usg
— Brad Tarczon (@BradTarczon) June 7, 2021
Does Dave Grohl ever play with Krist Novoselic?
Remaining Nirvana members Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, and Krist Novoselic have reunited in live concerts on a few occasions, but it is rare. The 1st time was when Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
But the next one after that was in 2018.
And it’s not always a reunion to play Nirvana songs. Fans witnessed an unusual sight when Dave Grohl recently appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live to cover X’s 1980 track “Nausea” along with his daughter Violet.
Grohl brought Krist Novoselic to play on the bass. But the group denied it as a formal Nirvana reunion.
The trio likes to keep their meetups a private affair, but the band guitarist Pat Smear let it out on Howard Stern upon asking whether he misses being in Nirvana:
“Every once in a while, me and Krist and Dave get together, and we play as if we’re Nirvana.”
Happy Birthday Pat Smear (Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Germs) #PUNK #ROCK #GUITAR @foofighters pic.twitter.com/9EURC9yjDr
— Rock Birthdays (@RockBirthdays) August 5, 2015
Is Pat Smear still in Foo Fighters?
While he had left the band in the past, Pat Smear continues to be a band member in Foo Fighters since returning full-time in 2010.
The original Foo Fighters were: Dave Grohl (Vocals and Guitar), Pat Smear (guitar), Nate Mendel (Bass), William Goldsmith (drums). All three can be spotted in the “Big Me” track from their debut studio album “Foo Fighters.”
But then the lineup changed to Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, Franz Stahl (Guitar), and the late, great, Taylor Hawkins (Drums) because Dave felt that “Goldsmith wasn’t the kind of drummer Foo Fighters needed.”
Dave began re-recording the drums for his next album, pissing off Goldsmith and Smear, eventually forcing Pat and Goldsmith to leave the band.
After some time, Smear returned to the band, but Dave still held auditions to search for a new guitarist. Ironically, no one got recruited.
Pat was missing from the next albums:
- One by One
- In Your Honor
- Silence and Patience
The band continued with this new lineup for a long time.
Finally, things were sorted, and before making their seventh album-Wasting Lights (2011), which the band made in Dave’s Garage produced by Butch Vig,
Pat Smear returned as a full-time member taking the duty of the rhythm guitarist for the band from 2010 to the present.
The band has released three more albums since then: “Sonic Highways,” “Concrete and Gold,” and “Medicine at Midnight.”
The most recent lineup of the Foo Fighters was:
- Dave Grohl (Vocals and Guitar)
- Pat Smear (Rhythm Guitar) from 2010 to present
- Nate Mendel (Bass)
- Rami Jaffee (Keyboardist)
- The late Taylor Hawkins (Drums)
- Chris Shiflett (Lead Guitar)
The band has yet to announce if/how they will continue following the tragic death of Taylor Hawkins in March 2022.
Dave Grohl had enjoyed a respectable reputation during his stay in Nirvana.
Dave went on to form his own band Foo Fighters, including former Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear and some new members joining the band. Although most music lovers miss their rare official Nirvana reunions, Pat Smear reveals that the trio gets together on occasion.
While Dave feels uncomfortable singing any Nirvana songs, he likes to sit behind the drum kits, trying to relive the old memories and letting several others sing Kurt’s songs.
Photo which requires attribution:
Foo Fighters at Goat Island by Mel is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, color-adjusted, and had a text overlay added.