Dave Grohl has now joined the long list of musicians so successful, they had to compile all the details of their storied lives into a book. Dave Grohl: The Storyteller – Tales In Life & Music, Grohl’s first book, hit the shelves yesterday (October 5th), and to celebrate, he’s taking these stories on tour — sort of.
Appearing at New York City’s Town Hall on Tuesday, October 5th (the second of five live dates promoting the book), Grohl essentially went through an oral history of his life, highlighting stories from the book alongside other personal anecdotes, and pausing throughout to play songs on two different guitars and (of course) a drum kit.
As the audience filed in and Grohl took the stage, he sat on the floor, electric guitar in hand, and played along to The Beatles’ “Eight Days A Week,” a fitting reminder to the crowd of where it all started for one of the 21st century’s biggest rockstars. He shared in-depth details of his childhood growing up in Springfield, Virginia, discussing his father, who was a conservative news writer in the 1970s, and his mother, a public school teacher and singer herself.
“I didn’t have much, but I had enough,” he repeated throughout the evening, referencing both his lower-middle class upbringing and his tenacity and determination to create music without instruments (at one point, Grohl wanted to play the drums so badly, that he would make drum sounds with his teeth).
He continued to outline the way his parents’ divorce and his identity as a troublemaker/noisemaker/daredevil led to his overwhelming obsession with music. Those who watched Foo Fighters’ HBO mini series Sonic Highways might remember his special relationship to the music of Chicago — that when visiting his cousin Tracey, who was a bonafide punk rocker, he went to a Naked Raygun show at the legendary Cubby Bear and felt the rush of live punk music for the first time.
This was a profoundly formative experience for Grohl, who became inspired by the Do-It-Yourself ethics of punk, the raw energy of live music, and the fact that even with just four chords, he had the ability to make something powerful and visceral.
Eventually, Grohl claims he found himself at a crossroads around the age of 17 — hometown punk heroes Scream had invited Grohl to join the band, meaning he’d have to drop out of high school and commit to touring in a van full time (with a per diem of $7 a day, which frankly is astounding, even in 1987). Nevertheless, he followed his heart and began drumming for Scream across the continent and even in Europe.
One of the best stories of the evening came from this chapter of Grohl’s life: in the late ’80s, when touring in Toronto with Scream, Grohl and his bandmates learned that Iggy Pop was set to play a record release show that evening before them, and they were told explicitly by the venue and promoters that they weren’t allowed to watch. That is, until Grohl and Scream’s bassist, Skeeter Thompson, were called upon to fill in for Iggy Pop’s band. Grohl was happy to even be playing on the same night — let alone the same stage — as Iggy Pop, but to be able to play alongside him was a “wildest fantasy” moment, and you can still feel the joy he experienced when given that opportunity.