10 fun facts about Foo Fighters

Here's what you need to know about the veteran band

Foo Fighters: This is a photo call
Author: Julian MarszalekPublished 21st Feb 2020
Last updated 13th May 2020

With Foo Fighters about to celebrate 25 years of action, and news that their tenth album is imminent, now is a good a time as any get to re-acquainted with these masters of hook-laden and melodic hard rock...

Dave Grohl pondering on how birds learn to fly

1) How did Foo Fighters get their name?

Following the demise of Nirvana after Kurt Cobain’s tragic death in 1994, drummer Dave Grohl was considering his options. Indeed, rumours suggest that Pearl Jam offered him the drummer’s stool, and he reluctantly declined Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers’ overtures after he performed ‘Honeybee’ and ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels’ with the celebrated heartland rockers on US comedy show ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1994.

Instead, he decided to record songs that he’d written and demo’d while still in Nirvana. With the recordings done and dusted, Grohl decided to name the project Foo Fighters, which is taken from the term for UFOs used by the US military in 1940s.

Adding to the UFO theme, Grohl then named his record company ‘Roswell’, after the site where extraterrestrials are said to have crash-landed in 1947.

2) Did Dave Grohl really play all the instruments on Foo Fighters’ eponymous debut album?

Almost, but no. Afghan Whigs’ mainman Greg Dulli popped up to play guitar to ‘X-Static’, but apart from that, Dave Grohl played everything else on every track on the album. So whenever you hear ‘This Is A Call’, ‘I’ll Stick Around’ and ‘Big Me’ among others, be safe in the knowledge that Dave Grohl is playing the guitar, bass and drums. Oh, and he’s producing as well. Did this man ever sleep back then?

3) Does Dave Grohl play with other bands?

Speaking of that lack of sleep, Dave Grohl has managed to find the time to play with a heap of bands while still leading Foo Fighters.

As far back as 1994, he played drums with the Backbeat Band, who supplied the soundtrack to the biopic of The Beatles’ pre-fame years in Berlin. The band featured Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner covering Paul McCartney’s vocals, Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli standing in for John Lennon’s, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and producer Don Fleming on guitar, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills on bass and Dave Grohl playing pre-Ringo Starr drummer Pete Best’s parts.

Most famously, he played drums on Queen Of The Stone Age’s third album, ‘Songs For The Deaf’, in 2002. He had so much fun that Foo Fighters were put on hold while he went on tour with them.

He played guitar on David Bowie’s 2002 album, ‘Heathen’, where the pair covered Neil Young’s ‘I’ve Been Waiting For You’. Dave has also likened Foo Fighters' 10th album to Bowie's album 'Let's Dance'.

The following year, he played drums on Killing Joke’s second eponymous album. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also found time to play drums on every one of comedy duo Tenacious D’s albums - ‘Tenacious D’ (2001), ‘The Pick of Destiny’ (2006), ‘Rize Of The Fenix' (2012) and ‘Post-Apocalypto’ (2018). And Nine Inch Nails – let’s forget about Trent Reznor’s industrial groovers.

Taking things a little bit further, he formed supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones in 2009.

The deepest blues are black

4) Have they done any famous cover versions?

Foo Fighters love a cover version. Among the best are Gerry Rafferty’s 'Baker Street', Wings’ ‘Band On The Run’ and AC/DC’s mighty ‘Let There Be Rock’.

But they’ve also done some pretty unusual covers, too. These include Tubeway Army’s ‘Down In The Park’ and Prince’s ‘Darling Nikki’. It seems that the Purple One wasn’t too thrilled about that one. In a bizarre twist, Prince then covered ‘Best Of You’ as part of his 2007 superbowl set.

5) Has anyone else covered songs by Foo Fighters?

They sure have. In addition to Prince, Stereophonics have had a go at ‘Best Of You’, while ‘Times Like These’ has been covered by Ryan Adams (and remember not to mistake him the Groover From Vancouver, Bryan Adams, or else all hell will break loose!).

Elsewhere, Paramore recorded a version of ‘My Hero’ for – what else? – the soundtrack to ‘Superman Returns’.

Best of all is ‘Learn To Fly’ by Rockin’ 1000, a collection of a thousand Italian musicians who performed the cover in the hope of getting Foo Fighters to play the city of Cesena. And the great thing is that it worked: touched by their video, Foo Fighters went over and honoured their request.

Foo Fighters looking very la dee da

6) Foo Fighters love the Reading Festival

Foo Fighters have played the Reading Festival an incredible seven times. Their first appearance was in 1995 and their last show there – and its sister festival in Leeds – was in 2019. We think it’s safe to assume they’ll be back there for more.

7) Is there really a new Foo Fighters album on the way?

You better believe it! Speaking of the new Foo Fighters record, Dave Grohl recently said: “We just finished making a record. Some of those songs, the best ones happen in 45 minutes. Then there’s other songs — there’s a riff on the new record I’ve been working on for 25 years. The first time I demoed it was in my basement in Seattle.”

8) Foo Fighters are an award-winning band

Over their 25-year history, Foo Fighters have won five BRIT Awards (Best International Group in 2008, 2012, 2015 and 2018 and Best International Album for ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’) and a staggering 12 Grammy Awards, include four in the Best Rock Album category for ‘There Is Nothing Left To Lose’ (1998), ‘One By One’ (2004), ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’ and ‘Wasting Light’ (2008), and three awards for Best Hard Rock Performance for the songs ‘All My Life’ (2203), ‘The Pretender’ (2008) and ‘White Limo’ (2012).

Kerrang! Magazine are partial to Foo Fighters, having awarded them six times for Best Album (‘Foo Fighters’), Classic Songwriters (2000), Hall Of Fame (2002), Best Single for ‘Best Of You’ (2005), Best International Band and Best International Live Act (both 2018).

Dave Grohl: these days he has a beard

9) Taylor Hawkins used to play for Alanis Morissette

Having re-recorded all the drum parts for Foo Fighters’ second album, ‘The Colour And The Shape’, Dave Grohl asked Alanis Morissette’s drummer, Taylor Hawkins, if he could recommend someone for the job after original tubthumper William Goldsmith quit the band. Hawkins put himself forward and has kept the drum stool warm since 1997.

10) Dave Grohl has his own signature model guitar

Having been a huge fan of Gibson’s Trini Lopez signature guitar, the legendary guitar manufacturers made the new Dave Grohl model guitar, the DG-335, in 2007. On top of that, he worked closely with Gibson in getting the guitar just how he likes it.

Scroll through to see Dave Grohl through the years...

Dave Grohl with Nirvana - 1991

Nirvana's Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic in a toilet in 1991. Where else?!

Dave Grohl with Nirvana - 1992

Nirvana's Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic backstage at the MTV Video Awards in 1992

Dave Grohl with Nirvana - 1993

Nirvana perform at MTV Live and Loud in December 1993.

Dave Grohl - 1994

Dave Grohl at Sony Studios in Culver City, California, United States in June 1994 - the year he formed Foo Fighters in the wake of Kurt Cobain's death

Dave Grohl - 1995

Dave Grohl performs in Brixton in November 1995

Dave Grohl - 1996

Dave Grohl performs with the Foo Fighters at Phoenix Festival, Stratford Upon Avon, in 1996

Dave Grohl - 1997

Foo Fighters perform at Tibetan Freedom Concert in New York in 1997.

Dave Grohl - 1998

Just a photo of Dave Grohl with a dolphin on holiday in the Gold Coast, Australia in 1998

Dave Grohl - 1999

Dave Grohl works as a cashier at Tower Records to support their album release in 1999.

Dave Grohl - 2000

Foo Fighters perform at The Bridge School Benefit held in the Shoreline Amphitheater, California. Lovely hat!

Dave Grohl - 2001

The Foo Fighters perform at V Festival in 2001.

Dave Grohl - 2002

Foo Fighters perform at MTV New Year's Eve Pajama Party at the MTV Times Square studios in New York City. December 31, 2002. Nice glasses Dave!

Dave Grohl - 2003

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and wife Jordyn Blum during Spike TV Presents The 2003 GQ Men of the Year Awards

Dave Grohl - 2004

Performing at the Rock in Rio Festival in Lisbon in 2004.

Dave Grohl - 2005

Foo Fighters performing live at Earls Court, London in December 2005.

Foo Fighters - 2006

Foo Fighters pose with Brian May at The O2 Silver Clef Awards in 2006.

Dave Grohl - 2007

Dave Grohl at Britain Live Earth Concert in 2007.

Dave Grohl - 2008

Dave Grohl performs at the pre-Grammy Awards party in 2008

Dave Grohl - 2009

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs on VH1 Storytellers on October 28, 2009

Dave Grohl - 2010

Dave Grohl poses with Glenn Five, Steve 'Lips' Kudlow and Robb Reiner of Anvil.

Dave Grohl - 2011

The Foo Fighters perform at Wembley Arena in 2011.

Foo Fighters - 2013

Foo Fighters at the 'Sound City' film premiere, Los Angeles in 2013.

Dave Grohl - 2014

Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins, Dave Grohl, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear attend the premiere of HBO's "Foo Fighters Sonic Highway", in New York in 2014.

Dave Grohl - 2015

Foo Fighters' Performs at the Music Festival 'Rock Am Ring' in Mendig Germany in 2015.

Dave Grohl - 2016

The Foo Fighters at the Grammy Awards in February 2016.

Dave Grohl - 2017

Foo Fighters storm Glastonbury Festival in 2017

Dave Grohl - 2018

Dave Grohl performing with the Foo Fighters at the Cal Jam 18 Pop-Up Event at the Hollywood Palladium, LA

Dave Grohl on Sesame Street - 2019

Mr Grohl appeared on the 50th anniversary episode of Sesame Street, singing a joyous, rock-tinged tune called 'Here We Go Song' with Big Bird and Elmo as various iconic backdrops from across the USA appeared on the green screen. Of course, Dave is no stranger to Jim Henson's creations as he once had a drum-off with Animal from The Muppets.

The Foo Fighters' tenth album - 2020

In August 2019, drummer Taylor Hawkins confirmed that the Foo's latest album would be coming in 2020, telling RockSound, "From what I've heard from our fearless leader Dave Grohl, he has a lot of demos that he's worked on and I think we'll start, once this tour is over. I think not too soon after that we'll start the process of putting the songs together as a band."

WATCH | Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl on his broken leg: "Paul McCartney fixed me up with doctor"

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