Dave Grohl Reveals What He Learned From Kurt Cobain’s Heroin Addiction

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Dave Grohl discussed how he used the positive and negative experiences of working with Kurt Cobain in Nirvana when it came to Foo Fighters in a new Rolling Stone article. On the negative side, he learned to never try heroin, and also to share publishing with his bandmates.

Grohl’s time in Nirvana made him the successful frontman he is today. “He learned so much that he was able to use to escape a lot of mistakes,” says Pat Smear, his bandmate in Nirvana as well as the Foos. “I watched it happen with Foo Fighters – like, ‘Oh, I know why you’re doing this: Because Nirvana did it and it was good!’ or ‘I know why you’re not doing this: Because Nirvana did it and it was bad!’ ”

Grohl calls the three years from 1991 to 1994 “a crash course in the danger of a band becoming so popular so quickly.” “When the Foo Fighters started,” he says, “we made some pretty clear decisions about what to do and what not to do.” On the to-do list? “Go out and play some shows. Start from the ground up.” And the not-to-do list? Grohl laughs ruefully. “I mean  … heroin?”

Grohl has also been good about making sure the Foos never felt like a backing band. To wit: The group shares all publishing revenue equally. (Contrast this with Kurt Cobain, who renegotiated Nirvana’s contracts to retroactively give himself a bigger share.) “I think Dave learned that this is the way to keep a band happy and feeling like a band,” Smear says. “He’s naturally a generous person – but he also gets that there’s an upside.”

Dave Grohl looked back at Nirvana’s 1992 Reading Festival performance 25 years later in a new MOJO interview.

“In the 12 months since we had played the 1991 Festival so much had happened,” Grohl tells MOJO. “We had these incredible highs and incredible lows. Kurt had been in rehab, we hadn’t played together; Kurt was living in Los Angeles, Krist and I were up in Seattle. The band was just fractured in more than a few ways. We were expected to come back together to do this gig, and it was really touch and go.”

Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s child Frances Bean had been born less than two weeks previously, amid accusations regarding the pair’s hard drug use – most notoriously in a Vanity Fair profile published earlier in the month. Rumours backstage at the festival suggested that Nirvana might not show at al.

“I remember bumping into people who were saying, ‘What are you doing here?’” says Grohl. “I said, ‘We’re f**king headlining!’ They’re like, ‘Oh I thought you cancelled!’ I’m thinking, What the fuck is going on?!”