If you weren’t already convinced that Dave Grohl’s new book The Storyteller was a worthy read, the chapter he just shared about the time when he met Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in London is here to sway you. Entitled “Entering Valhalla,” Grohl posted the excerpt in his “Dave’s True Stories” blog and it’s far less of a #humblebrag than it is a tale of sheer childlike joy.
As the story goes, Foo Fighters had just played a show at London’s Wembley Arena when Dhani Harrison (the son of late Beatles guitarist George) introduced himself to Grohl backstage and invited the band to attend a tribute show for his father that he was putting together at the Royal Albert Hall the following week. Among the concert’s performers were legends in Eric Clapton, Ravi Shankhar, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. As fate would have it, the Foos had that night off on their tour. So Grohl and the band happily accepted the offer to attend as guests.
At the show, Grohl explains that he got extremely emotional when Ringo Starr played “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. 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.”
Grohl then goes on to talk about how they settled into an empty VIP Lounge, which soon became very much not empty as the show’s performers slowly trickled in. There was Ravi Shankhar “sitting in the corner eating a plate of Indian food all by himself,” the “fifth Beatle” George Martin, and then the big payoff, when Grohl meets Paul McCartney for the first time:
“What happened next will forever remain a blur. I don’t recall exactly how Paul and I were introduced, what was said, or how long we talked, but I do remember putting on my best ‘this is not the most incredible thing ever to happen to me’ face while trying to keep from making a fool of myself. I think I may have tried the ‘So, are you guys on tour at the moment?’ line, but who knows. I was beside myself, having an out of body experience, living a moment that will surely be revisited in my final hours. I would not be standing there that night, much less writing this today, if it weren’t for this man. Like so many who have made lives as musicians, his music had been a teacher when I needed instruction. A friend when I felt alone. A father when I needed love. A therapist when I needed guidance, and a partner when I needed to belong.”
There are other factoids in the story that might be lost on the casual fan. Like when Grohl mentions his “old friends” Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and how he nearly joined the band after Nirvana came to an end. But more than anything, it’s refreshing to read his recollection of how giddy he was that night meeting The Beatles. Rock stars: They’re just like us!
The Storyteller: Tales Of Life And Music is out now.