41 Dave Grohl guest spots ranked from worst to best
The history of Dave Grohl's special appearances
Dave Grohl: ex Nirvana drummer, Foo Fighters frontman, and very busy guy. Throughout his career, Dave has found time for an eye-popping amount of big-name collaborations, and if Gene Simmons has anything to do with it, another one could be on the cards.
The outspoken Kiss frontman told Rolling Stone recently that he’d like to hear Dave’s vocals on the Lamb Of God track 512, and looking back at Dave’s track record of guest spots, it’s not all that outlandish.
We’ve ranked 41 of Dave’s collaborations from worst to best here, so you don’t have to.
41. Bad Boyfriend, from Garbage’s Bleed Like Me (2005)
A less-than-memorable track that must have been a doddle for Dave, Bad Boyfriend is somewhat buried on his impressive CV.
40. Zac Brown Band, Day For The Dead, CMA Awards (2013)
Dave lent his sticks to the bluegrass-inspired Zac Brown band. It's a cheery track, but won't appeal to anyone except die-hard country fans.
39. Juliette and The Licks’ Four On the Floor (2006)
Dave shows off some punk rhythms, but the sound of actress Juliette Lewis’s punk outfit is overdone, dated and cringeworthy in places.
38. Beatles biopic Backbeat, with Thurston Moore, Mike Mills and Greg Dulli (1993)
Given that Backbeat is a film about The Beatles, it’s odd in that the soundtrack features no songs actually written by The Beatles. Paul McCartney – a good friend of Dave’s – rubbished the film on its release, saying it took away his ‘rock and rollness’. The personnel is impressive, but it’s not Dave’s most groundbreaking moment.
37. Cage The Elephant tour (2011)
If the first person you think to call when you’re suffering from acute appendicitis is Dave Grohl, you’re doing something right. Bluesy garage-rockers Cage The Elephant are small fry compared to Dave’s other collaborations, though – perhaps he was lured by their self-confessed love of Nirvana?
36. RDGLDGRN (2013)
This Virginia indie band managed to bag Dave's skills on their track I Love Lamp on their self-titled EP (that they recorded at Sound City studios, where Nirvana laid down Nevermind), but as indie outfits go, they're a pretty dreary project for the multi-skilled Dave.
35. Peter Yorn – For Us (2006)
Peter Yorn, on the other hand, knows how to do indie a bit better – his lo-fi garage style was fitting for Dave's dabble into less structured rock, but there are far more high-profile collaborators on the list.
34. Puff Daddy’s It’s All About The Benjamins Rock Remix (1997)
Dave hit the skins on this track from No Way Out, an album from an era when Sean Combs was a little more certain of his nickname. It might not be a hardcore rock fan’s cup of tea, but props to Dave for not pigeonholing himself. FYI, it’s now just Diddy.
33. Paul McCartney’s guest drummer at Anfield Stadium (2008)
As part of Liverpool’s stint as the European Capital of Culture, Dave drummed for Paul McCartney as he played a number of old Beatles hits. They’re an unlikely pair, and Dave – there’s no need to headbang to Beatles songs.
32. Paul McCartney’s guest drummer at The Grammys (2009)
Dave got a little too heavy-handed while playing a repertoire of Beatles tracks for Paul, who's stage show packs less of a punch as he gets older. But we'll let them off, because they're great pals.
31. Saturday Night Live ‘Crisis Of Conformity’ sketch (2010)
In a cheesy wedding-themed sketch, Dave shows he can still look cool as a silver fox in a grey wig, as he takes on the role of an embarrassing dad in a past-it punk band that nods to Corrosion Of Conformity, of whom the drummer, Reed Mullins, is a future Grohl collaborator. Never let it be said he doesn't like to have fun!
30. The Late Show with David Letterman (2015)
For David Letterman’s last ever show, he enlisted his favourite band – who dropped their commitments to play for him after his open heart surgery in 2000 – to soundtrack a montage of Late Show nostalgia. They were even allowed to play past the midnight curfew – a luxury not afforded to many bands.
29. Tenacious D’s Rize Of The Fenix (2012)
The subversive humour of Tenacious D is in full supply here, but after dressing up as the Devil for Jack Black and Kyle Gass, Dave's drum cameo is tame by comparison.
28. Watch This with Slash and Duff McKagan (2010)
A rare bum note for Dave and the Guns N’ Roses veterans – it’s a prime opportunity for them to show off, but the result sounds a little too much like The Hives jamming with Slash.
27. Cat Power’s You Are Free (2003)
Dave took a step back from the drums to play bass as well as drums on the track Shaking Paper, again showing off his multitasking skills. He also shows off a softer side to his drumming on the lo-fi, folksy record, but it falls behind his other guest spots on the bombastic scale.
26. David Bowie’s Heathen (2002)
Dave once again dropped the sticks in favour of strings to provide guitar for I’ve Been Waiting For You, a Neil Young cover on Bowie’s 2002 album. It’s not exactly classic Bowie or an original track, but it’s another impressive name on Dave’s long list of side projects.
25. Supergroup with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Steven Van Zandt at the Grammys (2003)
When the late Joe Strummer was honoured at the Grammys, Dave joined forces with other big names to perform a synchronised cover of London Calling, that looked for all the world like four men in a line playing Guitar Hero. For a bunch of accomplished musicians, it could have been so much more.
24. Tenacious D, The Pick Of Destiny (2006)
Dave donned the silly devil costume for his pals Tenacious D, but we’d all seen him in the Tribute video by this point, making it slightly less funny the second time around.
23. SXSW speech (2013)
A rare non-musical entry into Dave's back catalogue of appearances, his SXSW speech sees him talking passionately about his heroes, and the importance of trusting your own voice when making music. What matters most is your voice,’ he said. ‘'Cherish it. Respect it. Stretch it and scream until it's gone.' Sound advice.
22. Duet with Norah Jones on Maybe I’m Amazed (2010)
Dave tones down the rock frontman persona to sing this ballad with the smoky-voiced Norah Jones at the Kennedy Centre, in honour of his mate Paul McCartney. If the Foo Fighters work dries up, he's definitely got a career as a wedding singer in the bag.
21. The Prodigy’s Invaders Must Die (2009)
Dave revealed in a previous interview that he loves The Prodigy, so presumably he was stoked to appear on the tracks Stand Up and Run With The Wolves. That doesn’t mean he’s a fan of Smack My Bitch Up, though – he said the song presents him with an ‘ethical dilemma’.
20. Johnny Depp’s Hollywood Vampires (2015)
It's well documented that Mr Grohl loves a supergroup, and that Johnny Depp can play guitar quite well (as he proved when he turned up on stage with Marilyn Manson last year), so this project should pack a punch.
19. Tenacious D’s Tribute video (2001)
We all know Dave’s a trooper who’ll do anything, but he nailed this cameo, horns and all.
18. Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne’s solo project, King Buzzo (1992)
Dave – under the pseudonym Dale Nixon, provided guitars, drums, vocals and production to Buzz Osborne’s solo project, and gets to open up with a two-minute long drum intro, so we’re guessing he enjoyed himself.
17. Mike Watt’s Ball Hog or Tugboat? (1994)
Minutemen founder Mike Watt’s debut solo album is a dark and slightly avant-garde affair, and was one of Dave’s early forays into more diverse musical areas. Mike is also kind of a big deal, and Dave joins an impressive list of collaborators on the album including Henry Rollins, Eddie Vedder and Sonic Youth.
16. Joins Queens Of The Stone Age when Joey Castillo leaves (2012)
Dave's appearance on Songs For The Deaf in 2002 made him an obvious choice to replace Joey Castillo when he left the band before they started recording ...Like Clockwork. Josh Homme revealed that Dave was re-joining QOTSA in an interview with Zane Lowe on Radio 1.
15. Hosts Chelsea Lately on E! (2013)
Once again, Dave showed himself to have a good sense of humour while filling in for Chelsea Handler, as he took part in skits and threw in some good-natured self-deprecation. He won the gig after guest-hosting the show the previous year.
14. Bl’ast’s For Those Who’ve Graced The Fire! with Black Flag’s Chuck Dukowski (2015)
Bl'ast! know how to do angry, unpredictable punk, and so does Dave, it would appear. He's no stranger to collaborations with hardcore's early proponents, having guested on The Melvins’ Buzz Osborne’s solo album and performed a secret set at Washington’s 9.30 club with Bob Mould. Dave remixed a Bl’ast! track, Blood! in 2013, and is now replacing Joey Castillo for the latest EP on Rise Records. Anyone got a sense of deja vu?
13. Sound City (2013)
Anything that gives an insight into Nirvana's history is musical porn for rock lovers, and this is a must-watch. It’s a who’s-who of rockers who recorded at the legendary, but ramshackle, Sound City studios in LA, and allows Dave to show his geekier muso side in his debut as a film director. Is there actually anything he can’t do?
12. Killing Joke’s second self-titled album (2003)
He really does get all the good jobs, doesn’t he? It’s something of a testament to Dave’s musical ability and versatility that he can hop from working with Cat Power to Bowie to Killing Joke with such ease, and this appearance even made Dave a new mate – Killing Joke frontman Jaz Coleman later made a guest appearance on a Foos tour.
11. Pocketwatch, a cassette-only album under the name Late! (1992)
The beginnings of the Foo Fighters' signature, slightly discordant melodies can be heard on this cassette-only album, and copies now sell for over $300 on eBay, so it’s fair to say this is something of an important rock relic. The 1992 release also means it came before cassette tapes acquired any sort of hipster connotations.
10. Ghost’s first EP, If You Have Ghost (2013)
Turning his hand to more occult metal, Dave featured on the enigmatic Swedish band’s first EP, and also gave rise to one of rock’s great modern rumours. Apparently, Dave has played live with Ghost, wearing the mask and cape of the other Nameless Ghouls.
9. Krist Novoselic and the Stinky Puffs (1994)
The Stinky Puffs – despite counting Kurt Cobain as a fan – aren’t a band that stood the test of time, but Dave’s live performance with them is poignant in that it was his and Krist’s first time playing together since Kurt Cobain’s death.
8. ‘Nirvana reunion’ with Pat Smear and Krist Novoselic (2014)
Pat Smear and Krist Novoselic reunited with Dave when they performed at the 56th Grammys – and won Best Rock Song – for the Paul McCartney collaboration Cut Me Some Slack. Despite the reunion being a heartfelt affair, Dave said they ‘knocked out [the song] in a couple of hours’ while ‘jamming’. Casual.
7. Teenage Time Killers with Randy Blythe, Reed Mullin and Neil Fallon (2015)
Another supergroup on Dave's bulging resume was this noisefest with Lamb Of God's Randy Blythe, Clutch's Neil Fallon, and Corrosion of Conformity’s drummer Reed Mullins. Dave described is as ‘hardcore karaoke with a bass’ to Rolling Stone, which sounds like they had as much fun making it as we did listening to it.
6. The Foo Fighters first major tour – doubling up as Mike Watt’s backing band (1995)
While supporting Mike Watt on the Ringspiel tour, Dave also doubled up as a member of his backing band along with Eddie Vedder. Not only did Dave show some impressive multi-tasking skills, but he also built enough interest in the Foo Fighters to enable go on their own tour in the following months, which saw them visit the UK and play Reading Festival for the first time.
5. Probot with Lemmy, King Diamond, Max Cavalera, Wino and Cronos (2004)
It’s supergroup time again! Dave’s '80s throwback project only released one album, but that one record was a sonic punch in the mouth featuring a bunch of metal legends that only Dave could get together. It sounds a little dated now, but on its release, it was metal entirely on Dave’s terms.
4. Them Crooked Vultures with Josh Homme and Jon Paul Jones (2009)
Only Dave Grohl could get a former member of Led Zeppelin into a band with him. The album came four years after the initial idea, and proved that whenever Dave forms a supergroup, he means business.
3. Nine Inch Nails’ With Teeth (2005)
Another appearance that proved Dave’s credentials as the go-to guy for the world’s biggest rock musicians. The list of albums he doesn’t feature on is probably shorter.
2. Tony Iommi’s solo album (2000)
Adding to the list of rock royalty he’s been in the studio with, Dave stepped in to the guest spot on Goodbye Lament, a track on Tony Iommi’s solo epic Iommi. Phil Anselmo, Henry Rollins and Ozzy Osbourne also made appearances, making this the first in a list of supergroup-style projects for Dave.
1. Queens Of The Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf (2002)
Given that Songs For The Deaf is probably QOTSA’s most memorable and best-known album, and the one that gave us the multi-award winning No One Knows, we’d forgive Dave for looking back smugly, dusting off his hands and saying ‘Yep, that was me.’