After Kurt Cobain died in 1994, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl came to a crossroads. He received many job offers, but he did what nobody expected. Instead of being a drummer for the rest of his life, Grohl entered the recording studio and recorded an album of his own music. He played all the instruments but wanted to stay anonymous. What better way to throw everyone off by naming his one-man-band Foo Fighters?
Although, on second thought, Grohl isn’t sure Foo Fighters was the right name.
Dave Grohl named Foo Fighters after a term allied pilots had for UFOs
In an interview with Clash, Grohl explained how he named Foo Fighters. The name comes from the term World War II allied forces had for UFOs.
“Around the time that I recorded the first FF tape (that became the first record), I was reading a lot of books on UFOs,” Grohl said. “Not only is it a fascinating subject, but there’s a treasure trove of band names in those UFO books!”
“So, since I had recorded the first record by myself, playing all the instruments, but I wanted people to think that it was a group, I figured that FOO FIGHTERS (WW2 term for UFOs) might lead people to believe that it was more than just one guy. Silly, huh?”
During WWII, the allied forces coined Foo Fighters as a term for the strange phenomenon pilots spotted in the sky. At the time, they thought it was a German secret weapon. According to Radio X, the phenomenon was dubbed “foo-fighters” by Donald J. Meiers, a radar operator in the 415th Night Fighter Squadron.
Meiers took the name from a comic strip called Smokey Stover. Smokey was a fireman, or “foo fighter,” who arrived at incidents in his “Foomobile.”
Goliath writes that the group’s record company, Roswell, also relates to UFOs. The town of Roswell, New Mexico, is famous for being the site of a supposed UFO crash in 1947. In 1996, Grohl and his then-wife, Jennifer Youngblood, made a cameo on The X-Files. Grohl must like UFOs.
The Police’s Stewart Copeland also inspired Foo Fighters’ name
When Grohl came up with Foo Fighters, someone closer to Earth also inspired him. UFOs aside, Grohl’s main mission for the name was to throw everyone off the scent that he’d recorded the album by himself.
In 2021, Grohl told Howard Stern that The Police’s drummer, Stewart Copeland, gave him the idea to name his solo career Foo Fighters. For that, Grohl initially wanted Copeland to induct the band into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“This band started with this demo tape that I did… I went into the studio for five days, I played all the instruments, I recorded 13 or 14 songs – just for fun. I made cassettes, and I called it ‘Foo Fighters’ because I didn’t really want everyone to know it was me.”
Grohl continued, “I thought maybe if I give someone a cassette, maybe they think it’s a band, they’ll be surprised when they find out it was just one person and that it was me. Coming out of Nirvana, I didn’t want to, like, say, ‘Hey, I got a solo project!’ So I called it Foo Fighters.
“When I was young, someone gave me a record by an artist named Klark Kent. It was this kinda weird fringe thing… It sounded a lot like The Police, because it was actually Stewart Copeland, the drummer of the Police. He made this record under the name Klark Kent.
“He didn’t put his name on the record. When you first got it, you were like, ‘Wow, who’s Klark Kent? This is kinda rad!’ Then someone was like [whispering], ‘That’s Stewart Copeland!’
“That’s really the thing that inspired me. I think Stew would be a great guy to induct the band. And if you’re ever hung about with Stewart, he can make a f***ing speech!”
Grohl hates the band’s name
After recording Foo Fighters in 1995, the band’s frontman slowly started putting his band together. However, as the band garnered success, Grohl started hating the name more and more. Grohl wishes he never named the band Foo Fighters.
In 2014, he told 60 Minutes (per Rolling Stone), “Had I imagined that it would last more than a month-and-a-half, I might have named it something else. It’s the dumbest band name ever.”
We’d loved to hear what Grohl would have named the band instead. Either way, fans love Foo Fighters.