Dave Grohl becomes Nirvana’s Drummer

On September 21st, 1990 Krist Novoselic and Kurt Cobain picked Dave Grohl up from Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport. He stayed with Kurt Cobain in his “Hellhole” apartment in Olympia and auditioned for the band a few days later. He got the job, with Krist Novoselic later stating, “We knew in two minutes that he was the right drummer.”

This search had been a long and tortuous one and came at the end of a frustrating summer for Nirvana.

Aaron Buckhard, Nirvana’s first Drummer

Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic had got together and started playing. In early 1987 they started playing with a neighborhood kid called Aaron Buckhard. There was no audition, as Aaron put it, “They said they needed a drummer and I was a drummer”

However, by October 1987 Aaron Buckhard, got a new job as assistant manager of Aberdeen’s Burger King. With the job taking up more of his time he was not prepared to make the trip to Nirvana’s rehersal space in Krist’s basement in Tacoma and he was out of Nirvana. “I thought Kurt’s songs were great, but I never thought there would be a market for them”, said Aaron Buckhard later.

In an attempt to find a new drummer Kurt (or Kurdt as he spelled his name then) decided to place an advert in the Seattle Rocket for a drummer –

Underground Attitude, Black Flag, Melvins, Zeppelin, Scratch Acid, Ethel Merman.
Versatile as heck.
Kurdt 352-0992

By December they still had not found a drummer so started rehearsing with Dale Grover as an interim solution. Soon after they went into Reciprocal Studios with Jack Endino to record their first demo. However in January Dale Crover left to go back to play with the Melvins again soon after Kurt’s 21st birthday.

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Before leaving Dale Crover had recommended a hard-living drummer by the name of Dave Foster to Kurt and Krist.

Dave Foster did not look like the Washington punk that Kurt wanted, but when he mentioned that Dave should, “Get with it” he got and angry retort, “It’s not fair to make fun of the short-haired guy, I’ve got a job!”

He also had the misfortune to get into a fight and beat up the son of the mayor of Cosmopolis. So along with 2 weeks in jail, losing his driver’s license and having to pay thousands for his victim’s medical expenses he was also fired from Nirvana. In actual fact he was not fired, Kurt simply stopped asking him along to practices and asked Chad Channing instead.

Chad Channing

Chad Channing joined Nirvana as things began to happen for them. They recorded “Love Buzz” the first single released on Sub Pop’s record of the month club and their debut album “Bleach” also for Sub Pop. They also embarked on a tour across the US in the back of a van and the relationship between Kurt and Chad began to break down.

By the time Nirvana went to Madison to record the follow-up to “Bleach” with Butch Vig at his Smart Studios, although the two respected each other, they could not find common ground on a musical level. He and Kurt’s relationship became very strained during the sessions in Madison.

Kurt had often complained that he was the focal point of the band, with all the stress on him, but whenever Chad had offered to help with the songwriting process his ideas had always been ignored, which irked him. Also, Chad’s style of drumming did not gel with the music Kurt wanted to make. “Chad was a softer style drummer, but he changed to become harder and more rhythmic.” said Krist Novoselic, “He didn’t like doing that.”

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Soon after the Smart Studios sessions at the end of May, Chad Channing left Nirvana.

The Hunt for a Drummer Continues

Nirvana used Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters, to record and release the song “Sliver” on Sub Pop (ironically one of the only songs with a writing credit for Chad Channing), with “Dive” from the Smart sessions on the B-side (you can find both on “Incesticide”) However this was only a temporary arrangement and Nirvana were left looking for another drummer.

Dave Grohl Joins Nirvana

Dave Grohl was looking for a new band following the break-up of his band, Scream. The Washington hardcore punk band’s band Scream had split up mid-tour in LA. Dave Grohl found himself a long way from home in Washington DC, and did not have the money to get back to the east coast. So he called his friend Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins, who was living in LA and he introduced Dave to Nirvana.

Nirvana had seen Scream play in San Francisco and liked the way Grohl played, Kurt Cobain frequently compared him favorably with Led Zeppelin’s legendary sticksman, John Bonham. Very quickly he gelled with Nirvana and their summer of frustrations with being unable to play and problems with Sub Pop was at an end.

Now Nirvana were a band again and they set off on a tour of Europe during the fall of 1990. It would also not be long before they had sorted the issues with their record label to as they were now actively pursuing a major label deal.

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