By 1990, 21-year-old Dave Grohl was already a seasoned drummer. Having cut his teeth in the smaller Arlington, Virginia hardcore band Freak Baby / Mission Impossible before getting his dream gig, drumming for D.C. punk legends Scream. Nothing gold can stay, and Scream broke up in 1990, leaving Grohl high and dry without a band.
At the same time, a Seattle band called Nirvana had gone through an endless series of drummers. Melvins’ main man Buzz Osborne twisted the arms of Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic to attend a Scream show in San Francisco. It was their first time seeing Grohl play, and Nirvana were blown away. Having recently fired Chad Canning, when they got word a few months later that Scream had broken up, Cobain and Novoselic casually invited Grohl to come up and jam. The rest is history.
The classic lineup of Nirvana would make their live debut on October 11th, 1990 at North Shore Surf Club in Olympia, Washington. The band played a staggering 20 tracks that evening, some from Bleach and others that had yet to be recorded. The rest of the set was made up of Devo, Shocking Blue, Wipers, and Vaselines covers.
A few months later, the trio of Cobain, Novoselic, and Grohl would make history when they recorded inarguably one of the most important records of all time, Nevermind. In a 2001 interview with Rolling Stone, Grohl said of the experience: “There would be times when we would really connect — smile and laugh and feel like a band. And there were times when you felt lost and questioned what you were doing there. There were times when I had to back off completely and think, ‘I’m just the drummer in this band.’ And there were other times when we’d all share something really beautiful, like a show or recording or just a vocal harmony. That’s when you really felt like you were part of something great.”
Check out footage from Dave Grohl’s first Nirvana gig right here: