When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl found himself with a lot of time on his hands given that he couldn’t hit the road and play live music. So, he sat down and wrote a book.
The Storyteller isn’t your typical cradle to grave memoir, mostly given that Dave is still alive for one, but also that it doesn’t exactly cover every event in Dave’s life and career in perfect chronological order. With that said, there is still a hell of a lot jam-packed into these three hundred and fifty plus pages. We get a snapshot of Dave’s early years living in a single-parent household following his parent’s divorce. But, it’s not like his father was always in the picture anyway given that he disapproved of his son’s rebellious rock and roll dreams. The elder Grohl was a Republican speech writer, so it made sense that he expected his son would have more sensible aspirations. Dave’s unabashed love for his mother shines through in every chapter as she championed his ambitions and the two remain extremely close to this day.
I didn’t know much about Dave’s upbringing in the years before he hooked up with Kurt and Krist in 1990 and became the drummer for Nirvana. Dave spent a few years in the infamous DC punk band, Scream, as the foursome toured the United States and Europe on a razor-thin budget. A few of Dave’s stories about encountering rock stars as an impressionable musician in the 80s were true highlights – like the night he played drums for Iggy Pop in Toronto purely by being the right guy in the right place at the right time.
When he gets to his Nirvana years (1990-1994), the book explores the band’s struggle to grapple with their seemingly overnight explosion in popularity. Going from having lint-lined pockets to a bursting wallet was a huge shock to the guys in the band. While Dave played it safe (he blew his first Nirvana paycheck on a BB gun and a Super Nintendo), Kurt further spiraled into heroin addiction. Dave speaks fondly of Kurt, although he seemingly had next to no relationship with Krist given how little he’s mentioned here.
The rest of the book concentrates on his time starting and growing the Foo Fighters, developing as a versatile musician within side projects as well as his life as a husband and father. There isn’t a dull story in the book. Dave is a natural born storyteller – even if presented with a moderately interesting tale, Dave would have me hanging on his every word given how well he builds his stories to a crescendo each and every time. Nights of debauchery with Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, getting thrown in jail in Austraila, infamously breaking his leg after falling twelve feet from the stage to the floor and the childhood wonder and adoration he displays when he gets to meet one of his musical heroes are the kinds of stories you’ll find here and they’re all entertaining.
The Storyteller frames Dave as just that – a guy you would love to sit down with and hear stories of an exceptional career in rock and roll while sharing a few beers.