Dave Grohl on “the most triumphant moment” for Nirvana

Dave Grohl

Nirvana was never intended to become one of the world’s biggest bands. While Kurt Cobain may have appreciated the concept of being a rockstar admired by his peers, no one could have guessed. He would change the landscape of rock and roll overnight, bringing grunge to the people in a way that few artists could. Even though Dave Grohl was content behind the drum kit half the time, he knew one show would be pivotal.

Nirvana, on the other hand, was always a bit of a shambles on stage. Before Grohl joined, the Seattle outfit was known for being a trainwreck or a spectacle, depending on the night. Cobain would hurl himself at the drumkit when something wasn’t to his liking.

After years of working with original drummer Chad Channing, Cobain felt they needed more power. He recruited Grohl from his work with the hardcore band Scream. Grohl introduced a lot more chops to the band’s gigs, showcasing superb supporting vocals behind Cobain’s howl. He provided a John Bonham-style backbeat to every tune.

When they began performing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘ while preparing for Nevermind, they believed they had something major. It’s palpable to sense the tension in the room as the band eventually breaks into the future rock hymn. This happens at their first gig, performing the song at the OK Hotel in Seattle.

Once the band’s single achieved mainstream fame, Cobain began to retreat. Fans’ wild excitement forced the cancellation of several of the band’s gigs. However, after spending time performing in various theaters and punk squats, the band finally made it to the big leagues. The Reading Festival organizers invited them to perform in 1992.

Despite the legendary explosion of the performance, Dave Grohl couldn’t shake his doubts. He wondered whether the band would even be performing at all. Grohl arrived on the day of their concert with tense nerves. This was despite several press statements saying that Cobain was attending rehab for heroin addiction.

Years later, while discussing the song with BBC, Dave Grohl said, “The night before that, we had rehearsed for the first time in a long time.” [The] rehearsal didn’t go well. Despite barely having rehearsed, we shredded every note when we hit the stage, making it a night for the history books.

Although the band left the event as the leaders of the new school of rock music, Cobain would begin to retreat. He started distancing himself from recording music in the following years. Despite the tremendous popularity of In Utero, Cobain despised going on stadium tours to promote the album. Eventually, he overdosed on the road before his untimely demise in 1994. Nirvana’s entire career had them walking on eggshells, but for that one hour on the Reading stage, no other band could compete.

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