Considered to be the Pinnacle of grunge, the rock band Nirvana had to go through a series of drummers before finally selecting Dave Grohl for the role.
Cobain and Novoselic were looking for a drummer for them to record demo tapes and play small shows throughout the Northwest. Then Grohl joins in 1990 and the rest was history.
Together with the band, Grohl got his first gig the same year he joined on October 11, 1990. It was at the North Shore Surf Club in Olympia, Washington.
The First Show
The first show that David ever did with the band was one heck of a moment. Many considered the performance to be pure Nirvana as what they were best known for. It was the moment when Nirvana sounded like what it sounds now; the signature Nirvana.
The show had a rather shaky start with not one but three separate power outages. However, the band was unfazed and continued playing. They played some of their early hits like, ‘School’, ‘About A Girl, and early versions of ‘Breed’, ‘In Bloom’ and ‘Stay Away’ from their album, Nevermind.
It was such an iconic moment as they even went on that extra length by covering songs by bands such as The Wipers, DEVO, Shocking Blue, and The Vaselines. In a clip filmed during the performance, the band was seen playing to a sweaty, engaged crowd with their newly recruited drummer shirtless fully enjoying the moment.
Grohl joining the band
In 1991 with the release of their first single ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, Nirvana’s popularity skyrocketed. So, Dave joining the band was a blessing in some form. With his long flailing locks and a hulking stage presence, Dave was one of a kind.
Remembering the first time they heard Dave play, Novoselic said, ” We knew in two minutes that he was the right drummer. ”
Before joining the band, the 21-year-old Grohl was a veteran of the Washington, D.C hardcore scene, and was playing for the D.C punk band, Scream. Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic had already seen him play and after the audition, immediately recruited him.
Talking with Rolling Stone in 2001, Grohl talked about how the group was having a difficult time choosing a drummer and how he came to join them.
He said,” I think one of the reasons they wanted me was that I sang backup vocals. I don’t remember them saying, ‘You’re in the band’. We just continued.”
” Kurt was kind of a drummer himself. When he would play guitar or write songs, if you ever looked at his jaw, he would be moving his jaw back and forth, like he was playing the drums with his teeth. He heard in his head what he wanted from a rhythm, and that’s a hard thing to articulate.”
– Dave Grohl with Rolling Stone, 2001
The footage from their performance surfaced and fans just couldn’t get enough of them; especially Grohl. The footage featured him keeping the beat during a wild performance of Love Buzz, a cover of the Shocking Blue tune.
In his chats with Rolling Stone, Grohl spoke, ” There would be times when we would really connect, smile and laugh and feel like a band. And there were times when you felt lost and questioned what you were doing there.”
Grohl continued as he remembered the time he first recorded an album as a part of Nirvana, ” There were times when I had to back off completely and think, ‘I’m just the drummer in this band.’ And there were other times when we’d all share something really beautiful, like a show or recording or just a vocal harmony. That’s when you really feel like you were part of something great.”