Paul McCartney Recalls Magic of Nirvana Team-Up Backstage at Grammys

'They were a great band with Kurt'

Krist Novoselic, Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl and Pat Smear accept the Best Rock Song award during the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
January 27, 2014 1:10 PM ET

"This is my friend, Paul," said Dave Grohl.

"Hello, Dave," replied Paul McCartney.

The two were crowded onto a small stage with Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear for a backstage press conference at last night's Grammy Awards, after winning Best Rock Song together with "Cut Me Some Slack." The unlikely collaboration between the ex-Beatle and former members of Nirvana was recorded during filming of Grohl's Sound City documentary, in one of many scenes of established players recording on the studio's legendary Neve 8028 soundboard.

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Grohl invited McCartney out to jam the next time he was in Los Angeles, suggesting they rip into some classic early rockers like Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally." Grohl would bring in his former Nirvana collaborators.

"He was the one that said, ‘No, no, no, no – let's write a song. Let's write and record a new song in the three hours we have there,'" Grohl recalled.  "We did it, and we just got Best Rock Song!"

The track was created at Grohl's 606 studio in Northridge, California, with Nevermind producer Butch Vig behind the board. McCartney brought his new cigar box guitar, a gift from actor Johnny Depp, but the Beatle let his famous Hofner bass sit unused. "Which one should I play guys?" McCartney recalled. "And Dave gave me a funny look."

"I wanted to play accordion, and everyone was ‘Nooo,'" Novoselic said to laughs.

McCartney described the session on the hard-rock track as much quicker than anything on his just released New album, and didn't realize the significance of who he was playing with when he walked into 606.

"It was magic for me playing with these guys," McCartney said. "I knew who Dave was because I'd met him, and he said 'I have a couple of friends coming along.' And during the session I hear them talking: ‘Wow, we haven't played since Nirvana.' So I found myself in the middle of a Nirvana reunion."

Grohl said he's witnessed the timeless appeal of the Beatles in his own kids, ages 4 and 7, who sing along to a vinyl Beatles box set he gave them. "There aren't too many things that last forever and I honestly think what Paul and the band did will last forever," Grohl added. "It has the same effect on this generation of kids as it did on my generation. It's really important that kids understand that everything comes from what's come before and there's this lineage that's really important."

Asked about future collaborations with the Nirvana members, McCartney said, "You never know. They really are great to play with. They were a great band with Kurt. That's what I experienced – just playing with a really good band, which is a very special thing. I should know."

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