Dave Grohl's stealth talent first materialized in his hometown of Washington, D.C., where he was a long-haired punk and metal kid who lionized Kiss, Black Sabbath and Black Flag. After drumming in local hard-core band Scream, he famously passed an audition for Nirvana and remade himself, almost by accident, into a star. As the longtime Foo Fighters front man, he's one of the rare '90s alt-rockers with longevity. Even more rare, he often suppresses his ego to join other bands as a role player. His resumé:
SCREAM At age 18, Grohl pushed this band to a higher level upon joining it in 1987. His drumming on "Fumble" (recorded in 1989 and released four years later) has that baseball-bats-against-tree-trunks quality that Grohl would make so distinctive in Nirvana.
NIRVANA Like the rest of the world, Grohl didn't expect Nirvana to be anything more than a little punk band from Seattle. "I remember Dave talking about how much it cost to make it, like 'How are we ever gonna make that money back?' 'cause they'd done a major-label record," front man Pete Stahl recently recalled to Spinner.com. But it was Grohl's presence that gave singer Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic their final boost to "Nevermind."
FOO FIGHTERS Unbeknown to everybody except those who'd heard a mysterious demo tape during the later days of Nirvana, Grohl was not only an experienced songwriter but a talented one. Grohl spent a week in 1994 in a friend's basement, recording what would become the band's debut. The catchy and heavy "Foo Fighters" was the first shot in a career of hits for the goateed and personable Grohl, including "Everlong" and "Learn to Fly."
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE After eight years with Foo Fighters, Grohl needed a separate outlet just for drumming, and he started to publicly praise this 5-year-old metal band from Seattle. Front man Josh Homme invited Grohl into the band, and he provided the recognizable backbeat on its best album, 2002's "Songs for the Deaf."
THEM CROOKED VULTURES Grohl and Homme played secret recording sessions with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones in 2005. The sleek, funky and dark trio popped up for a show at Chicago's Metro four years later, and released its self-titled debut last year. "Within the first couple of minutes of playing, I knew it," Grohl told BBC 6 Music. "We had already found one of those moments where we were like, 'This is perfect.'"
WHO Foo Fighters
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WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Sunday, Madison Square Garden
INFO $49.50-$69.50; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com