Dave Grohl Received False Kurt Cobain Death Call a Month Prior to Actual Passing
While most remember exactly where they were when they first heard Kurt Cobain died on April 5, 1994, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl reveals that when it happened he'd already been told once in his life that the singer had passed.
In Grohl's new memoir, The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music, the onetime Nirvana drummer recalls getting a devastating phone call one month prior after Cobain had overdosed at a hotel in Rome. During that call, he was told that Cobain had died.
“My knees gave out and I dropped the phone as I fell to my bedroom floor, covering my face with my hands as I began to cry,” remembers Grohl (in an excerpt shared by the New York Post).
“He was gone," Grohl continued. "The shy young man who had offered me an apple upon our first introduction at the Seattle airport was gone. My quiet, introverted roommate who I’d shared a tiny little apartment with in Olympia was gone. The loving father who played with his beautiful baby daughter backstage every night before each show was gone. I was overcome with a more profound sadness than I had ever imagined.”
But the phone call was shortly followed by another soon after in which it was revealed to Grohl that they were able to revive Cobain and that he was still alive.
“In the course of five minutes I had gone from the darkest day of my entire life to feeling born again,” wrote Grohl. “From that day forward, I built my walls higher.”
Though Cobain underwent a detox program in the month following, eventually it was reported that he took his own life on April 8 (though a police report concluded that he died on April 5).
“This time it was for real. He was gone,” adds Grohl. “There was no second phone call to right the wrong. To turn the tragedy around. It was final.”
The musician who took his next step founding and fronting Foo Fighters has spoken often about his difficulty grieving the loss of Cobain and revisiting Nirvana material over the years, and in the book he speaks about being told of Cobain's death twice within such a short period. "It was stuck somewhere deep within me, blocked by the trauma from a month before when I had been left in a state of conflicted emotional confusion,” he writes. “‘Empathy!’ Kurt wrote in his suicide note, and there were times where I would beg my heart to feel the pain he must have felt. Ask for it to break. I would try to wring the tears from my eyes as I cursed those fucking walls I had built so high, because they kept me from the feelings I desperately needed to feel.”
Now, 27 years on from Cobain's death, Grohl says he still can feel the pain of experiencing that first phone call. “To this day I am often overcome with that same profound sadness that sent me to the floor the first time I was told Kurt had died,” he writes. "“But it’s when I sit down at a drum set that I feel Kurt the most. It’s not often that I play the songs that we played together, but when I sit on that stool, I can still picture him in front of me, wrestling with his guitar as he screamed his lungs raw into the microphone.”