Dave Grohl Recounts Seeing David Bowie For the First Time, And the Art of Saying ‘No’

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Dave Grohl Recounts Seeing David Bowie For the First Time, And the Art of Saying ‘No’

When you’re Dave Grohl, two-time Rock And Roll Hall of Fame inductee, you don’t so much rub shoulders with the rich and famous. You are the rich and famous.

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But the Foo Fighter, like the rest of us, has his heroes. Right at the top of the heap is the late, great David Bowie.

Speaking on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s 7.30 program, Grohl recounted the first time he laid his eyes on Bowie, the Man Who Fell to Earth.


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Bowie was headlining a festival in England, Grohl was on the bill, lower down. “I stood in the photo pit and looked at him and it was like seeing an alien,” he recounts. “You know, it was like seeing a UFO for the first time, like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s real’. That’s something I’ve never seen before.”

Grohl would not only meet Bowie, he’d form a friendship with the Thin White Duke, and spend time with him in the studio.

“And then getting to meet him,” he tells 7.30 host Leigh Sales, “all of that feeling coming down to Earth, realizing, ‘Oh, my God, what a gentleman! What a brilliant, sweet, kind, outrageously funny person.’ And then I recorded a song with him. This [was] years ago, and watching him step in front of a microphone and begin to sing and you realize, ‘Wow, that voice – that’s real, that just comes out of his mouth, that iconic voice.’

“The great thing about it is that it really humanizes everything. We’re like, ‘Wow, that’s a real person.’ It’s reassuring, but at the same time, you’re like, ‘That’s a hero.’ That’s not just another person. That’s David Bowie.”

Sales also quizzed Grohl about his experiences with Elton John and Paul McCartney; growing up with regular “teenage insecurities”; learning drums by beating pillows; his mom, the teacher and author Virginia Grohl; and the trick to staying grounded when life is up in the clouds.

“All of that other stuff is kind of an illusion, the television stuff, the platinum records,” he continues. “They’re flattering rewards, but ultimately the real stuff is over here. And as long as you can keep the real stuff over here, then whenever that becomes too much, you just go that way. One of the biggest lessons in all of this, for any young artist, if they come to the point where their life is complicated by that other stuff …you just say ‘no.’ It’s all you have to do. It’s one of the best lessons I ever learned. When someone asks you to do something and you don’t feel comfortable doing it, just say no. It’s easy.”

Foo Fighters are currently touring the Americas, with a date tonight (March 15) at Foro Sol in Mexico City. The Foos’ stacked calendar will see the band criss-cross the Atlantic before taking their show to stadiums across Australia and New Zealand later in the year. 

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