There’s a famous, uncredited joke that goes, “What was the last thing the drummer said before he was kicked out of the band? ‘Hey, I’ve got a song idea.’” In this case, that long-recycled trope was proven false, as Grohl was more than ready to take over frontman duties as the lead Foo.
The band’s debut release, 1995’s self-titled album, was an entirely Gohl affair, with the rocker writing and recording the entire LP himself (save for a guest guitar spot by Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs). Foo Fighters’ lineup would grow over the years to include bassist Nate Mendel, guitarists Pat Smear and Chris Shiflett, drummer Taylor Hawkins and keyboardist Rami Jaffee.
With nearly a dozen albums to their credit spanning more than a quarter century, Foo Fighters have proven to be one of the most prolific rock bands of their generation. The group remains one of the most powerful draws in music, selling out stadiums across the globe. Here are five reasons they deserve to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Rising From Nirvana’s Ashes
Foo Fighters’ creation will forever be linked with the end of Grohl’s previous band, the already Rock & Roll Hall of Fame-enshrined Nirvana. Given that group’s abrupt end following the death of Kurt Cobain, the drummer’s next project was guaranteed to have a massive public spotlight on it. Has any artist launched a successful second act under such pressure? Perhaps the solo efforts that followed the Beatles‘ breakup, but each Fab Four member had previously been featured on vocals, and their individual songwriting styles were well known among Beatle fans. Grohl, for all his prodigious drumming, had never been front and center on a Nirvana track. And though the rocker shared songwriting credits on a few of the band’s tracks, fans didn’t associate him with a distinctive voice or style. As such, Grohl was given the unenviable task of playing leading man for the first time while under intensive scrutiny from the music-loving public. That he not just met but exceeded the massive expectations placed upon him is remarkable.
Commercial and Critical Success
The Rock Hall is quick to note that sales figures do not guarantee enshrinement, but these numbers bare repeating nonetheless. Foo Fighters’ first seven albums all sold a million copies or more in the U.S. That’s a remarkable run of consistency, especially during a time when the means of consumption – CD sales, digital downloads, streaming – was rapidly changing. Across that span, Foo Fighters have received a dozen Grammy Awards, including Best Rock Album on four separate occasions. U2 are the only rock band in history to have taken home more Grammys.
They’re a Generational Talent
Foo Fighters rank in the Top 5 for having the most No. 1 songs in the history of Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. Two artists ahead of them – Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day – are already in the Rock Hall. An entire generation of fans has grown up with Foo Fighters as the leading torchbearers of rock. The Foos’ longevity and success is even more impressive when you consider the fact that some of their most beloved tracks never even topped the chart. “Everlong,” the group’s hugely popular single from 1997’s The Colour and the Shape, peaked at No. 3, while “Times Like These” from 2002’s One by One topped out at No. 5.
Electric or Acoustic, They’re Equally Powerful
There’s no question Foo Fighters know how to blow the roof off a stadium, but the band’s power is equally jaw-dropping when they’ve decided to go unplugged. Acoustic versions of “Everlong” and “Times Like These” became unexpected hits, leading the band to record 2005’s In Your Honor, a double album that featured heavy, electric tracks on one disc and mellow, acoustic tracks on the other. Though critical response was mixed, fans ate it up. In Your Honor remains the band’s second best-selling album; it was soon followed by Skin and Bones, the group’s first live LP. The 2006 release showcased the group performing acoustically with an expanded backing band, including strings, harp and accordion, adding new depth to their catalog of tunes.
Respect of their Peers
If a band’s quality is reflected by the company it keeps, Foo Fighters are in rarefied air. Paul McCartney, Rick Nielsen, Joe Walsh, John Paul Jones and Brian May are among the many famous rockers who have made guest appearances on a Foo Fighters song. Lemmy Kilmister was a longtime friend of Grohl’s and cameoed in one of the Foos’ music videos. Meanwhile, members of Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Led Zeppelin and Gun N’ Roses have performed in concert with the band. Oh, and Prince famously covered one of their songs during his epic Super Bowl halftime show in 2007. That’s a pretty impressive list of of supporters!