A Rocker Reborn

When you're in a world-famous rock band, having your frontman meet an unexpected demise can really be a major annoyance. At the very least, it makes you rethink your future. Take what happened when Jim Morrison OD'ed in that Paris bathtub — the remaining Doors gamely put out two albums sans Jimbo even though it was obvious the doors of opportunity were about to slam shut. Likewise, after Freddie Mercury succumbed to AIDS, Queen's reign ended abruptly, making the bandmates champions only in the past tense.

Then there was Nirvana, considered by many to be the most influential outfit of the Nineties. They were the gurus of grunge when Kurt Cobain offed himself — or when someone else offed him, depending on whatever theory you subscribe to. Fortunately drummer Dave Grohl didn't let that mishap crimp his career. Quite the contrary: Trading his drumsticks for a mike and guitar, he founded the Foo Fighters in 1995 and seized success in the process. 

Granted, the Foos aren't the most original ensemble. Their hard-edged sound is plied with a relatively soft center, echoing a template laid down by forebears like the Pixies, Sugar, and Hüsker Dü. Not surprisingly the group also bears certain similarities to Nirvana, albeit without the insurgent intent. Still, Grohl has done an excellent job of establishing his own rock-star stance and celebrity status. His face peers out from the covers of the world's leading rock rags, he has shared the stage at the Grammys with Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello, and his band basks in best sellers and sold-out shows. 

But it hasn't been an entirely smooth transition. After Grohl cut the group's first disc entirely on his own, his ability to recruit other musicians was undermined by his supposed insistence on complete creative control. Then again, being the band's main man and multi-instrumental overachiever, he would arguably have a pretty tempting tendency to micromanage.

Now 12 years on, the Foo Fighters have eight albums under their belt — including their latest, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace — and a steady lineup comprising Grohl, original bassist Nate Mendel, drummer Taylor Hawkins, and guitarist Chris Shiflett. Which makes one think that maybe, at least in the world of rock and roll, there can be life after death after all. If you're as serious and as savvy as Dave Grohl, resurrection is never out of the question.

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Lee Zimmerman