The name Foo Fighters came from what American World War II pilots called unidentified fireballs spotted over Germany. The Foo Fighters were the first and most successful success to emerge from the ashes of Nirvana, but the band's roots were in the years of personal recordings made by leader Dave Grohl. The former Nirvana drummer had played guitar and written songs since he was a Washington, D.C., teenager, while also playing drums in several hardcore bands. At age 17, Grohl became the drummer for the veteran punk act Scream. In 1990 he joined Nirvana, but continued to work on his own material during breaks from the road and studio. After finishing Nirvana's Nevermind, Grohl returned to D.C. to record several tracks, which were released on the cassette-only Pocketwatch.
Later that year Grohl entered a studio with friend and producer Barrett Jones to record what would become the first Foo Fighters album. Grohl played all the instruments himself.
Foo Fighters (Number 23) was released in 1995 and spawned the Modern Rock hits "This Is a Call," "I'll Stick Around," and "Big Me." Goldsmith quit during the making of The Colour and the Shape (Number Ten, 1997), the first Foo Fighters album recorded as a band, and was replaced by Taylor Hawkins (Alanis Morissette). The album contained the Modern Rock hits "Monkey Wrench," "My Hero," and "Everlong." Smear quit and was briefly replaced by Franz Stahl (Scream) and then Chris Shiflett, solidifying the lineup to date. Grohl relocated to Virginia and recorded There Is Nothing Left to Lose (Number 10, 1999) in his basement; the album included "Learn to Fly".
The New Century
In 2001 the group began recording its fourth album in Los Angeles, but stopped before finishing. Grohl took a break from band-leading by getting behind the drums again for Queens of the Stone Age's superb 2002 album Songs for the Deaf. Refreshed, Grohl gathered the Foos back together and re-recorded almost the entire album at his Virginia home studio, released as One by One (Number Three, 2002). The album further consolidated the band's place as the well-loved elder statesmen of alt-rock.
Foo Fighters: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Having commemorated their tenth anniversary with a year-plus run commencing with a double studio album hailed by the New York Times as "an unexpected magnum opus," a sold out arena tour built on that first disc's rock foundation followed by a toned down and intimate theater trek that highlighted the softer side showcased on that record's second half and capped off by a headlining gig at London's Hyde Park for a crowd of 85,000, the question looms larger than any in the Foo Fighters' career to date: What do they do for an encore?
When Grohl first started the band, its music was often compared to that of his previous group, Nirvana. Grohl acknowledged that Nirvana singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain was a major influence on his songwriting. Writing and recording songs for the first Foo Fighters album by him, Grohl wrote the guitar riffs to be as rhythmic as possible. Once Grohl assembled a full band, his bandmates assisted in song arrangements.
The members of Foo Fighters love music, whether it's the Beatles or Queen or punk rock. The lure of rock is the energy and immediacy; the need to thrash stuff around.
Campaigning and Activism
In 2000, the band generated controversy through their public support of Alive & Well, an organization that denies the link between HIV and AIDS, questions the validity of HIV tests, and advises against taking medication to counter the disease. Foo Fighter bassist Nate Mendel learned of Alive & Well through What If Everything You Thought You Knew about AIDS Was Wrong?, a self-published book written by Christine Maggiore, the organization's founder.
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