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The Storyteller - Dave Grohl (2021) | Book Review

by Elena Brand

Known as ‘that guy from Nirvana’ and as the founder and front man of the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl proves that his skills as a writer go beyond lyrics and melodies. The Storyteller is Grohl’s first memoir in which he unpacks the sometimes ugly, but primarily funny and endearing, series of events that led to him being a multi-platinum-selling artist. From mowing lawns in rural Virginia (so he could afford blunts and records), to bodyguards that are out to kill him, to Sir Paul McCartney performing for his wife and daughters in the privacy of his home, Grohl conveys his memories, his emotions, and his love for music through anecdotes and witty charm.

In The Storyteller, Grohl remembers his first live gig, Naked Raygun, on a family trip to Chicago at age 13. Inspired by this, he becomes a guitarist in various bands during high school and teaches himself to play drums. In his junior year, Grohl sees a flyer from the local band Scream who are looking for a new drummer. Having impressed the band, he has to decide between going on an international tour at 17 or staying in high school. Luckily for us, he chose to drop out. With a raw and honest presentation of what touring and van-life in the 80s’ punk scene was like, Grohl expresses sympathy over bassist Skeeter for repeatedly ditching the band, which led to Scream’s eventual demise. When making ends meet in an LA coffee shop, his friend tells him that Nirvana is in between drummers. After a long phone call where Grohl and Kurt Cobain bond over music, he decides to take off to Seattle, joining the band that would together produce commercial successes such as ‘Come as you are’ and ‘Smells like Teen Spirit.’

photo courtesy of Simon and Schuster

With global success came what would shake the music scene for decades to come. In the chapter ‘He’s gone’, Grohl describes how he dealt with the news that Cobain had overdosed in a hotel room in Rome in March, 1994:

‘In those months after his passing (…) I turned off the radio. What was once my greatest joy had now become my life’s greatest sorrow. It was the first time in my life that I rejected music. I just couldn’t afford to let it break my heart again.’

Retreating to a desolate country cottage in the southwest of Ireland, Grohl tries to escape the sudden death of his friend. Driving a rental car through the Irish countryside, he notices a hitchhiker with none other than Kurt Cobain on his T-shirt. Finally realising that he cannot outrun the past, Grohl goes on to start the solo project Foo Fighters and forms a band with whom he was inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ this year.

The Storyteller oozes authenticity. In a manner of your favourite uncle telling you stories about his crazy life, Dave Grohl shares an intimate perspective into the music business and fatherhood, and reveals the inside scoop on meeting his favourite artists such as Iggy Pop, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, AC/DC, Little Richard, Joan Jett, and many, many more.


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