In 2002, George Harrison‘s son, Dhani Harrison, invited Dave Grohl to Concert for George, a tribute concert for his father. The show made the Foo Fighters frontman cry. It also made him realize that he’d been doing something similar; paying tribute to a fallen friend. Grohl realized he’d been mourning Kurt Cobain through music just as George’s friends did at Concert for George.
George Harrison’s son, Dhani, invited Dave Grohl to Concert for George
Grohl and Dhani met in 2002, six years after Cobain died. Grohl wrote about the meeting on his blog, Dave’s True Stories.
Foo Fighters’ guitarist, Chris Shifflett, brought Dhani over to meet Grohl, who had no idea who Dhani was at first.
“In all of our years traveling and touring, playing concerts and festivals from Mississippi to Melbourne, I can honestly say that there aren’t too many strangers in the world of Foo, but as familiar as Dhani’s face seemed, I couldn’t place where I had seen this young man before,” Grohl continued. “But, with a nagging sense of Deja vu, I felt I knew this person somehow, almost as if we had grown up together.”
Dhani handed Grohl a CD he said he’d worked on with “his father.” It was Brainwashed. “I noticed something handwritten in the lower, right corner… By George Harrison,” Grohl continued.
“Confused, I looked up at Dhani and immediately realized why he looked so familiar. As the son of the late, great George Harrison, he is the spitting image of his father. I took in his features: The unmistakable brow, the cheekbones, the shaggy, dark hair.
“I suddenly felt as if I were face to face with the ‘quiet Beatle‘ himself. And in that moment it all made sense….little did Dhani know, I had grown up with him.”
Dhani told Grohl that he was organizing a tribute concert for George. The list of performers at Concert for George astounded Grohl. “These musical giants were not only the soundtrack of my life, but many of the gods that I had bowed to ever since I picked up a guitar. In my mind, this was Valhalla,” he said.
The best part of the conversation happened when Dhani invited Grohl to Concert for George.
Watching Concert for George made Dave Grohl realize he’d been mourning Kurt Cobain through music
When Dhani invited Grohl to Concert for George, the Foo Fighters frontman said he “levitated” from excitement. He felt as if he’d been granted a lifelong wish. A week later, Grohl and the group were escorted to a VIP box. Grohl started crying when he saw the portrait of George by the stage.
After the show began, Grohl realized, “This was no longer a concert hall this was a temple… It was clear that this night was more than a concert. This was a spiritual experience.”
Then Grohl realized how the tribute concert related to his own life. Just as Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, and many more were mourning George by playing his music, Grohl had been doing the same with Cobain.
Grohl made the connection while Ringo performed his song, “Photograph.”
“As if the previous hour hadn’t already been the most life affirming jolt to my soul, Ringo’s presence and this song in particular struck an unpredicted chord within me,” Grohl wrote. “Here was a man, generously withholding his own grief of losing a dear friend and bandmate, spreading love and joy by sharing the most healing force in time of mourning: Music.
“I realized that I had been trying to do the exact same thing since that cold, cloudy morning of April 5th, 1994. The day that Kurt Cobain died. I sang along at the top of my lungs.”
The Foo Fighters’ song about Cobain’s death
Grohl was right; he had mourned Cobain through music without realizing it. He started Foo Fighters shortly after the Nirvana frontman’s death. Grohl needed music to help him grieve. Otherwise, he would have taken a break for a while. Not only did Grohl carry on, but he wrote about carrying on in a song.
“It kind of comes from the day after Kurt died,” Grohl explained. “Waking up that morning and realizing, ‘Oh, s***, he’s not here anymore. I am. Like, I get to wake up and he doesn’t. I’m making a cup of coffee. And he can’t. I’m gonna turn on the radio. And he won’t.’ That was a big revelation to me.”
The lyrics read: “Learning to walk again/ I believe I’ve waited long enough/ Where do I begin?/ Learning to talk again/ Can’t you see I’ve waited long enough?/ Where do I begin?”
“I think also in life, you get trapped in crisis, where you imagine there’s no way out,” he continued. “When really, if you dare to consider that crisis a blip on the radar, it’s easier to push through. And, yeah, I was just like, ‘I don’t want anyone to have that feeling that I had that morning.'”
Grohl had to start over after Cobain’s death and had no idea what to do. So he did the first thing he knew would make him feel better, play music. That was what Concert for George was all about too. Sometimes music helps people grieve.