The Foo Fighters have grown to become one of America’s most beloved rock bands. Even if you’re not that crazy about their music, there’s no denying that Dave Grohl is one of best, if not the best, frontman in the business, captivating crowds and giving 100 percent at every show. Hell, Grohl won’t even let serious injuries get in the way of a performance, as evidenced by a 2015 concert in Gothenburg, Sweden, during which he took a catastrophic tumble off the stage and then went on to finish the performance on a freshly broken leg.
So, as tribute to this amazing band and their legendary frontman, we want to share with you 12 Foo Fighters facts that few people are very knowledgeable of.
12. They Use a UFO Naming Convention
The name Foo Fighters refers to a term coined by allied forces during World War II that was used to describe unidentified flying objects. Dave Grohl, who recorded the first Foo Fighters album himself, hoped the name would give him a little anonymity, but obviously that didn’t really work out.
In an interview, Grohl said, “Around the time that I recorded the first FF tape (that became the first record), I was reading a lot of books on UFOs. Not only is it a fascinating subject, but there’s a treasure trove of band names in those UFO books! So, since I had recorded the first record by myself, playing all the instruments, but I wanted people to think that it was a group, I figured that Foo Fighters might lead people to believe that it was more than just one guy. Silly, huh?”
Through no coincidence, the group’s record company, Roswell, also relates to UFOs as it refers to the New Mexico town where a flying saucer supposedly crashed in 1947.
11. After Nirvana, Dave Grohl Almost Joined Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Seven months after Kurt Cobain’s death tragically put an end to Nirvana, Dave Grohl sat in as drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, performing the songs “Honeybee” and “You Don’t Know Jack” when they played on Saturday Night Live. After the gig, Petty offered Grohl a full-time spot on the band but Grohl turned down the offer so he could start the Foo Fighters. Grohl still remains a big Tom Petty fan to this day though and once told documentarian Peter Bogdanovich “I can’t think of any band that sounds like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He’s just a badass.”
10. Dave Grohl Can Become a One Man Band for Studio Recordings
When listening to it, you’d have no way of knowing that the Foo Fighters’ self-titled debut album was basically a solo record produced by Dave Grohl. The frontman performed every single note you hear on the entire album except for the guitar track on “Afghan Whigs,” which was done by Greg Dulli.
Furthermore, despite having a full band assembled for the Foo Fighters’ follow-up album, Grohl didn’t really like what the drummer was bringing to the table so he went back in and recorded all the drum tracks himself.
9. Taylor Hawkins Used To Play in a Band With Alanis Morissette
Before drummer Taylor Hawkins joined the Foo Fighters in 1997 he was a part of Alanis Morissette’s touring band. Hawkins played with Alanis for the entire Jagged Little Pill tour and there were even rumors that there was a little chemistry between the two.
As the story goes, the Foo Fighters’ original drummer quit after Grohl re-recorded all of the drum parts on The Colour and the Shape. Needing a new drummer for the tour, Grohl snatched Hawkins from Morissette’s band. Interestingly enough, Hawkins wasn’t the only alternative rock legend to be included in Morissette’s band. Flea and Dave Navarro, who were both members of The Red Hot Chili Peppers at the time, played on the hardcore Alanis track “You Oughta Know.” Had Hawkins been as famous then as he is today, Alanis Morissette’s band probably would have gone down in history as one of the greatest ’90s supergroups.
8. They Have Fun With Their Tour Riders
Over the years the Foo Fighters have developed a funny habit for creatively utilizing their tour riders. In 2011, they famously turned the rider for their Wasting Light Tour into a full-length coloring book, complete with amusing activity pages that lightly reminded venues and promoters which foods the band members like to consume. One page asks the reader to circle items that belong in a salad, hinting that items such as a hammer, a tooth, Richard Pryor and a UFO are not appropriate.
7. Dave Grohl Likes to Play With Other Bands
With the band perpetually playing jam-packed concert schedules, Dave Grohl is undoubtedly a busy man. But when his isn’t playing with the Foo Fighters or making documentaries, Grohl likes to unwind by jamming with other bands. In the past he’s played drums for Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Killing Joke, Garbage and Tenacious D.
6. The Band Has An Odd Affiliation With Prince
In 2003, the Foo Fighters made a cover of Prince’s hot song “Darling Nikki.” Apparently, Prince wasn’t too happy at the time and told the group they should “write their own tunes.” In fact, the Foo Fighters still run into licensing issues anytime they try to include that cover in any official release, which is why it had to be cut from the group’s CD edition of cover songs.
However, four years later, in 2007, Prince covered the Foo Fighters’ track “Best of You” during his now-legendary Super Bowl halftime performance. Then, fast forward another four years, and Prince decides he wants to make all cover songs illegal. Oddly enough, this was right around the same time that Prince invited Dave to jam with him, a session during which they supposedly did a rendition of the Led Zeppelin classic “Whole Lotta Love.”
Granted, Price has always been a puzzling purple enigma, but he seems to have pretty mixed emotions when it comes to covering music.
5. The Story Behind Dave Grohl’s Trini Lopez Guitar
If you are fortunate enough to have ever seen the Foo Fighters live in concert, you might have noticed Dave Grohl using a sweet blue and white guitar at some point during the performance. That’s a Gibson Trini Lopez guitar that was custom made for him with a Pelham Blue finish. The guitar looks much like an ES-355, only with diamond-shaped f-holes. Grohl has been using Trini Lopez guitars in the studio since the band’s inception, and now this guitar in particular seems to be his favorite for playing live shows as well. In an interview with New Musical Express (NME), Grohl even went so far as to call the guitar “the sound of the Foo Fighters.”
4. The Album Wasting Light Was Inspired by Pop Disco Music
It’s a well-known fact that Dave Grohl doesn’t have much appreciation for pop music, so it might surprise you to learn that he drew influences from the disco era. Nevertheless, Grohl has openly admitted that the Foo Fighters’ 2011 album Wasting Light was inspired by two of the most popular disco groups of all time. In an interview he said: “I like loads of crazy-ass, dissonant, distorted rock ‘n’ roll, but I also love The Bee Gees and ABBA, bands whose pop choruses get bigger and bigger.”
Of course, Grohl was probably referring more to the songwriting process than the actual performances. Don’t expect to hear a Foo Fighters’ rendition of “Stayin’ Alive” anytime soon.
3. They Refuse to Do Anniversary Shows
These days, with society’s attention span shrinking faster than Kanye’s bank account after a new business venture, any band that can survive and continue making music after a decade is considered legendary. And it’s usually around the 10 year mark that you see bands start doing things like re-recording their old tracks or doing concert tours devoted entirely to their fist album. But fans probably shouldn’t expect anything like that from the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl has gone on record saying that he despises bands who revisit their old albums to cash in on fan nostalgia, dismissing them as cheap cash-grabs disguised as fan service.
That being said, as the band’s 20th anniversary approached, Grohl did consider re-recording their debut album, thinking it might be nice to give it the proper band treatment since, at the time, the group hadn’t completely formed and Grohl originally recorded it with the him playing pretty much every instrument on every track. But, in the end, Taylor Hawkins helped Grohl come back to his senses, telling him that it might be “The worst idea ever” and that fans “would f–cking hate it!”
2. Dave Grohl Never Had Any Formal Music Training
Not only does Dave Grohl hardly ever remember the names of chords, his approach to playing the guitar is very much from the perspective of a drummer. Here’s how he explains playing the riffs for “Everlong”: “The low E string is the kick drum. The A and D strings are snares. The G, B and high E are the cymbals. So you have a kick-snare relationship in the riff. Then when the chorus comes around, you wash all the high strings as you would wash a cymbal. It makes it percussive, and it gives that dynamic.”
No word on whether or not he uses the same method for his vocals.
1. They’re David Letterman’s Favorite Band
In 2000, David Letterman underwent a potentially life-ending quintuple bypass surgery. He said that during his difficult recovery, “Everlong” helped him find a good mindset and the song has had a special meaning for him ever since. So, for his first show after recovering from the surgery, he requested that the Foo Fighters be the musical guest. Just before they came out and performed “Everlong,” Letterman gave them a sentimental introduction, stating simply, “My favorite band, playing my favorite song.”
After announcing his retirement from Late Night, David Letterman decided he wanted to go out with a bang and invited some of his favorite guests to return for his final farewell show. Of all the hundreds of bands that Letterman has had on his show over the years, the Foo Fighters were the only group he considered for his final curtain call.