Dave Grohl's Inspiration Behind His Iconic Nirvana Drum Beats Revealed

The music world was turned upside down when in 1991 a little punk-rock trio from Seattle called Nirvana released "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the first song off their second full-length release "Nevermind." With singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain's pleading, half-screamed vocals, relentless, fuzzed-out power cords, and a melancholy yet angry spirit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is perhaps the most iconic song from the grunge period, alongside music from bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. The song would capture the slacker ethos of the era and would go on to clinch the No. 1 spot on the Billboard singles chart, according to Forbes.

Central to the success of the music, though, is the crashing percussion supplied by drummer Dave Grohl, helping to define the sound of rock drum playing all throughout the `90s. With such aggressive playing, it would be reasonable to expect that Grohl took the drum part in the song from punk rock or maybe even heavy metal. Dave Grohl revealed his inspiration behind his iconic Nirvana drum beats, however, and it came from an unexpected place.

It's disco but he likes it

It's unlikely that anyone would really guess the true inspiration behind Dave Grohl's iconic drum playing on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" among other well-known tracks from "Nevermind." The Ramones? No. Judas Priest? No. Black Sabbath? Guess again. What inspired Dave Grohl's rock 'n' rolling drumming on "Nevermind" were none other than disco era bands like Chic and The Gap Band, as Grohl told the producer and musician Pharrell on YouTube.

Pharrell is naturally surprised that one of the most lauded hard-rock drummers of our time drew inspiration from such an unlikely and danceable place, commenting in the clip after Grohl let him in on the secret, "Wow," and "all that's...disco!" For his part, though, Grohl's surprised more people haven't made the connection on their own. And when listening to the Gap Band track, "Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" — especially when compared to Dave Grohl's playing on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" — it's easy to hear what he means.