The Conversation: Dave Grohl With Michael Rapino

Dave Grohl & Michael Rapino
– Dave Grohl & Michael Rapino

Dave Grohl could have talked all night, but he had to take his daughters to dinner.

In what will certainly go down in Pollstar Live! history as one one of its most dynamic and entertaining progams, Foo Fighters frontman and Nirvana veteran Dave Grohl regaled a standing-room only crowd, along with interviewer Michael Rapino, for nearly an hour and half to close out the opening day of the conference.

It was emblematic of Grohl’s ability to keep it real, from his start as high school dropout to joining Nirvana as it claimed the zeitgeist of Gen X rock ‘n’ roll to recovering from the suicide of Kurt Cobain by starting all over with Foo Fighters. He has been at the pinnacle of rock twice in his long career but clearly remains grounded as an artist, family man, and regular dude.

With his left arm bound in a sling from recent surgery (without specifying the issue, Grohl said his arm needed “fixing” and he had undergone surgery four or five days prior), Grohl talked about his upbringing as the son of a public school teacher mother and political speechwriter father growing up in suburban Washington, D.C., and quitting school to join a punk band. How the demise of his band, Scream, led to his availability to join a college radio favorite, Nirvana, that had yet to hit it big. How sudden fame was too much to handle for its talented and charismatic frontman, Kurt Cobain. And how, as a coping mechanism, Grohl quietly recorded some tracks under a “silly” name – Foo Fighters – and released 500 cassettes that his attorney convinced him to turn into his own business.

Grohl, a 16-time Grammy Award winner, despite being interviewed by someone considered to be one of the most powerful people in the global concert industry, was self-effacing throughout and even occasionally reminded Rapino of his own Thunder Bay, Ontario, roots as any kid who loved the experience of live music – and traveled to Toronto to see Robert Plant and had his own life changed.

The story of how Grohl sort of played with Prince has been told before, but the long version – and told live – was a high point. A starstruck Grohl was invited to play with Prince and, after a mind-blowing sound check “with a drum set as big as a Mayflower truck,” the “jam with Prince,” after several false starts, never happened in concert.

Yes, he could have talked all night. But being a rock ‘n’ roll dad to his daughters, who were in attendance in the front row and whom he took recently to see emerging star Billie Eilish at the Wiltern Theater in LA, is clearly a higher point.

Watch for full coverage of Grohl’s conversation with Rapino coming soon.