The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Dave Grohl

In rock n' roll, a world rife with self-proclaimed bad boys, Dave Grohl carved out a niche as rock's good guy, a happy, jubilant, music-loving bro who clearly loves writing songs, playing guitar, and rocking out on stage hundreds of nights a year for thousands of fans screaming out the lyrics to his songs. Grohl is a rock lifer, having honed his chops as one of the best drummers ever in punk and hardcore bands before joining the '90s-defining grunge band Nirvana and then moving to the front of the stage for his arena rock juggernaut Foo Fighters. Grohl is a two-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of both bands.

A lot has gone very right in Grohl's life, but that's not the whole picture of the man. Even all-time rock idols are human beings, and humans suffer greatly. Over his five-plus decades on this planet, Grohl has endured a fair amount of sadness, hardship, and shockingly horrific ordeals. Here's a look into the occasionally tragic personal life of Dave Grohl.

Dave Grohl's early years were marked by divorce

Dave Grohl's adult life has consisted largely of one success after another. His childhood was a different matter, loaded with various insecurities, inconsistency, and missteps. According to Loudwire, Grohl was born in Ohio but moved to Virginia when he was young, not long after his parents divorced. Per The Guardian, Grohl was just six years old when his parents broke up, which he believes inspired him to crave the familiarity and safety of family as an adult.

Grohl was raised almost entirely by his mother, on her own, according to Paul Brannigan's "This is a Call," although the future rock star became further estranged from his father for a time after the parent rejected his musical aspirations because he neglected his studies in favor of performing. "I was not allowed to play music because my grades were so bad," Grohl said at a speaking event in 2021 (via The Mirror). That led Grohl to threaten to run away from his family. "This began the separation between my father and I," he added.

His Nirvana compatriot Kurt Cobain took his own life

For a scant two and a half years in the early 1990s, Nirvana was the biggest thing in music, ushering in a new sound of rock with its fuzzy, punk-meets-hard-rock grunge style, built upon a foundation of Dave Grohl's thunderous but precise drumming. In April 1994, according to the New York Times, the band's lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter Kurt Cobain, troubled by mental illness and personal issues, committed suicide at his Seattle home at the age of 27. Survivors included his wife Courtney Love, young daughter Frances Bean Cobain, and his Nirvana bandmates, Grohl and Krist Novoselic, who immediately dissolved the band.

Grohl was understandably left untethered and devastated. "When Kurt died, I was lost. I was numb," Grohl said in a SXSW speech in 2013 (via Rolling Stone). "The music that I had devoted my life to had now betrayed me and broken my heart." After he took some time to reflect, Grohl self-recorded the first Foo Fighters album (via Loudwire), which proved a cathartic experience. "Kurt dying shocked me into running away from music for a while," Grohl told The Guardian. "I can understand how some people might resent me for having the audacity to continue playing music, but it'd take a lot more than that to stop me from doing it."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Dave Grohl had an ugly, long, and public feud with Courtney Love

In the wake of the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994, two people deeply affected by that tragedy viciously sniped at one another in public for nearly two decades: Cobain's widow (and Hole mastermind) Courtney Love, and Cobain's Nirvana bandmate, Dave Grohl. At the heart of the complicated dispute was the artistic legacy (and financial rewards) of Cobain and Nirvana, with his spouse and musical partner both reasonably staking a claim as the true guardian and champion of the deceased musician.

In 2001, according to The Guardian, Love sued Grohl for greater control of the rights to Nirvana songs. Grohl and the third primary member of Nirvana, Krist Novoselic, issued a countersuit, alleging that Love's filing was an act of desperation. "Faced with a waning recording and acting career, Love is using her claims to further her own career goals, not to protect Cobain's legacy," one document argued. The disagreement wasn't limited to that case. According to ABC News, Love also sued Grohl and Novoselic to prevent them from releasing previously unheard Nirvana tracks, and in 2002, per The Guardian, Grohl took a moment during a concert to call Love an "ugly [redacted] [redacted]."

At least there's a happy ending. The legal stuff was ultimately settled, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Grohl and Love smoothed out their differences, even hugging on stage during Nirvana's 2014 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He had a falling out and a feud with the first Foo Fighters drummer

Dave Grohl played every drum track on Foo Fighters' debut album (via Loudwire) but would recruit a drummer to play those parts live, and to record the percussion parts for future Foo records, too. Around the time Grohl was assembling his band in 1995, Seattle band Sunny Day Real Estate split up (according to AllMusic), and Grohl acquired the services of its drummer William Goldsmith. The arrangement fractured during the recording of "The Colour and the Shape," Foo Fighters' second album, over Grohl's pursuit of perfection. "Dave had me do 96 takes of one song, and I had to do 13 hours' worth of takes on another one," Goldsmith told the Miami New Times. "It just seemed that everything I did wasn't good enough for him, or anyone else." Following those sessions, Grohl ultimately threw out Goldsmith's tracks and recorded the drum parts himself, leading the latter to quit the band.

In a 2017 interview with The Daily Mail, Goldsmith explained his disillusion with his former bandmate. "He was a bit like the kid who is popular but is mean and everyone likes them," he said, adding that Grohl's quiet re-recording of the drums on "The Colour and the Shape" means Goldsmith makes relatively little in Foo Fighters royalties, about $2,000 a year. The animosity remains abundant. "I remember once Dave said in an interview that touring with me was like touring with a punching bag."

Dave Grohl was hospitalized for a caffeine overdose

Dave Grohl has never been publicly linked to the use of illicit substances and attests to having never tried cocaine, but he was once hospitalized to severe overuse of a readily available stimulant that can be harmful or even fatal in large quantities. In 2018, Grohl told Rolling Stone that he drinks a lot of caffeine-rich coffee. At the time of the interview, he'd just consumed six cups, which he called, "A reasonable amount to get my day started."

That's a habit that continued after a caffeine-related health scare. Around 2009, Grohl was recording with supergroup side project Them Crooked Vultures at night while still maintaining Foo Fighters activities during the day while also caring for a newborn baby, all thieves of wakefulness. "I had too much coffee, I started to get chest pains so I went to the hospital and they told me to stop drinking the coffee," he told Absolute Radio (via NME). In other words, he'd mildly overdosed on caffeine, but couldn't quit the stuff. "After I got my diagnosis that I should decaffeinate, I tried decaf for, like, a week, and I came to the conclusion that decaf blows."

Dave Grohl broke his leg during a Foo Fighters concert

Foo Fighters shows are a boisterous affair, with frontman Dave Grohl running across the stage and jumping around. At a June 2015 show in Gothenburg, Sweden, that behavior led to a frightening and painful injury. Just two songs into the Foo Fighters' set, according to Rolling Stone, Grohl took a leap from one part of the stage, aiming to land on a ramp. But he misjudged the distance and instead fell deep and hard into a mostly empty area near the stage. He couldn't get up, called for assistance, and announced via his still live mic from the ground, "I think I really broke my leg!"

Realizing he needed medical attention, Grohl announced his intention to finish the concert. "I'm gonna go to the hospital, I'm gonna fix my leg. But then I'm gonna come back, and we're gonna play for you again!" For an hour, drummer Taylor Hawkins took over on vocals and directed the remaining Foos in a series of cover songs, and then Grohl came back as promised, on a stretcher assisted by two medics. While sitting in a chair to nurse his confirmed leg fracture, he performed for more than two hours.

Foo Fighters still had to postpone some future shows so Grohl could convalesce, but when the band hit the road again in July 2015, Grohl sang and played while seated in a Foo-branded throne made up of electric guitars, per Entertainment Weekly.

Dave Grohl's first marriage ended in divorce over his infidelities

Dave Grohl married Jordyn Blum in 2003 (per The Daily Mail), with whom he has three daughters. Prior to that happily ever after, he was something of a lascivious rock n' roll cliche, admittedly stepping out on previous partners to go to bed with other women. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Grohl ended a high-profile relationship with fellow '90s alternative rock star Louise Post of Veruca Salt via a phone call. He dumped her in order to entertain an offer to couple up with movie star Winona Ryder, prompting Post to get wildly drunk before going on stage that very night.

In 1997, his brief marriage to photographer Jennifer Youngblood ended in large part due to Grohl's sleeping around, he told The Guardian. That painful schism in Grohl's romantic life led to nasty ramifications in both his personal and professional life. Pat Smear, long a cohort of Grohl's as a tertiary member of Nirvana and original guitarist in Foo Fighters, quit the latter band for nearly a decade. Smear was close friends with Youngblood, and after Grohl did her wrong, he took sides and chose her.

Years of playing live has left Dave Grohl with profound hearing loss

Dave Grohl's early punk and hardcore bands, Nirvana, and Foo Fighters may not be too stylistically similar, but they have one thing in common: Their music is at its most effective when played hard and loud. After hundreds if not thousands of shows in clubs, arenas, and stadiums standing in front of walls of amplifiers, the perpetually loud noise left Grohl with substantial, permanent, and irreversible hearing loss in the form of tinnitus, which also causes ringing in the ears. "I'm a rock musician, I'm [redacted] deaf," Grohl told "The Howard Stern Show" (via Billboard) in 2022. "If you were sitting next to me right here at dinner, I wouldn't understand a [redacted] word you were saying to me the whole [redacted] time," he said. Grohl explained that conversation is nearly impossible in crowded places and that widespread mask use and facial coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic made communication difficult. "I've been reading lips for, like, 20 years," he said.

Grohl still produces records, as he can still hear particularly musical elements, but he deals with his hearing loss on stage through the use of a special sound designer he's worked with for more than 30 years who creates a special sound mix that enables him to hear his fellow musicians clearly.

Dave Grohl's father died the same week his daughter was born

The so-called circle of life would more accurately be called the circle of death. Every day, countless people succumb to their fate as humans and pass away, and just as many, if not more, brand new human beings are born to replace them. And then they too will die one day. Birth and death are inarguably the two biggest milestones in life, and both can have a profound effect on the lives of others. Dave Grohl once experienced what was likely an emotional whirlwind when an important birth and devastating death impacted his life almost simultaneously.

According to the Dave Grohl Alley Scholarship Program (via Ultimate Classic Rock), Grohl and his wife Jordyn Blum welcomed a baby named Ophelia, on August 1, 2014. (She's the couple's third child, following daughters Violet and Harper.) Just five days later, according to an obituary published by the Holeton-Yuhasz Funeral Home, James Harper Grohl died at age 75. A former Special Assistant to Ohio senator Robert A. Taft, savings-and-loan executive, and a renowned journalist for the Scripps-Howard News Network, Grohl was also the father of three grown children, including rock star Dave Grohl. The cause of death was cancer.

Dave Grohl has witnessed multiple people go over the edge with drugs

Not just coworkers in their fight against Foo, Dave Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins were also extremely close friends. "I was like, 'Wow, you're either my twin or my spirit animal, or my best friend!' In the first 10 seconds of meeting him. And, of course, I'd seen him play the drums, and I thought he was an amazing drummer," Grohl recalled to KLOS (via Rock Celebrities). Hawkins left his position as Alanis Morisette's touring drummer to replace William Goldsmith in Foo Fighters.

In 2001, less than five years later, Hawkins' tenure in a band alongside his fast friend almost came to an end, as did his life. According to The Guardian, Hawkins overdosed on heroin and subsequently spent two weeks in a coma in a London hospital. (This wasn't the first time someone Grohl loved took drugs too far. When he was 18, he witnessed a friend suffer a cocaine-induced heart attack, and in 1994, Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain overdosed on heroin during a European concert tour.)

Grohl couldn't fathom the idea of continuing to be a musician without Hawkins by his side. "When Taylor wound up in hospital I was ready to quit music," Grohl recalled. Fortunately, Hawkins made a full recovery and both he and Grohl continued to rock with the Foo Fighters for another 20 years.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Dave Grohl's friend and bandmate Taylor Hawkins died

While touring South America in March 2022, according to Rolling Stone, Foo Fighters were scheduled to play the Festival Estéreo Picnic festival in Bogota, Colombia. The night before the event, per the Associated Press, emergency medical personnel were summoned to the Four Seasons Casa Medina, the band's hotel, after drummer Taylor Hawkins experienced chest pains. By the time they arrived, another, private ambulance was on the scene, by which point Hawkins had gone unconscious. Revival attempts were unsuccessful, and Hawkins was pronounced dead at age 50.

An initial toxicology report by the Prosecutor's Office of Colombia showed 10 controlled substances and medications in Hawkins' body at the time of his death including prescription antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills, marijuana, and opioids. An autopsy pinpointed another possible or probable cause of the musician's untimely death. According to a report obtained by tabloid The Daily Mail, Hawkins' heart weighed in excess of 600 grams, about double that of the average, healthy heart of a man his age. In the wake of the death, Foo Fighters canceled all future scheduled tour dates."Let's take this time to grieve, to heal, to pull our loved ones close, and to appreciate all the music and memories we've made together," Foo Fighters said in a statement.