Foo Fighters emerged from the ashes of Nirvana, but the band’s true roots lay 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.
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.
Plans for another cassette release were shelved with Kurt Cobain’s 1994 suicide.
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 2002 album Songs for the Deaf.
Prior to the release of Foo Fighters’ 1995 debut album Foo Fighters, which featured Grohl as the only official member, Grohl recruited bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith, both formerly of Sunny Day Real Estate, as well as fellow Nirvana touring bandmate Pat Smear as guitarist to complete the lineup.
The band began with performances in Portland, Oregon.
Goldsmith quit during the recording of the group’s second album, The Colour and the Shape (1997), when most of the drum parts were re-recorded by Grohl himself. Smear’s departure followed soon afterward.
The group followed that release with the two-disc In Your Honor (2005), which was split between acoustic songs and heavier material.
Foo Fighters released its sixth album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, in 2007.
In 2010, it was confirmed that Smear had officially rejoined the band after having toured with Foo Fighters as an unofficial member since 2005.
In need of a replacement for Goldsmith, Grohl contacted Alanis Morissette’s touring drummer Taylor Hawkins to see if he could recommend anybody.
Grohl was surprised when Hawkins volunteered his own services as drummer.
Hawkins made his debut with the group in time for the release of its second album, The Colour and the Shape, in May 1997.
The album included the singles “Monkey Wrench”, “Everlong” and “My Hero”.
In October 2007, Foo Fighters started its world tour in support of Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace.
The band performed shows throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia, including headlining the Virgin Mobile Festival in Baltimore on August 9.
At the European MTV Music Awards in 2007 Pat Smear confirmed his return to the band.
In August 2010, the band began recording their seventh studio album with producer Butch Vig, who had previously produced the two new tracks for the band’s Greatest Hits album.
The album was recorded in Dave Grohl’s garage using only analog equipment.
The album won five Grammys and was nominated for six. Vig said in an interview with MTV that the album was entirely analog until post-mastering.
Pat Smear was present in many photos posted by Grohl on Twitter and a press release in December confirmed Smear played on every track on the album and was considered a core member of the band once again, having initially left as a full-time member in 1997 before returning as a touring guitarist in 2006.