As part of Dave Grohl’s never-ending Beatles love fest – At the Grammys, he called Paul McCartney a “groundbreaking visionary” and said he wouldn’t be on the stage were it not for the Fab Four – the Foo Fighters frontman played the Yellow Submarine track “Hey Bulldog” during last night’s TV tribute to the band.
The performance, for which Grohl sang and played guitar alongside Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne at a concert the day after the Grammys, got McCartney miming and singing along, Ringo Starr bobbing his head and Yoko Ono rolling her eyes back into some transcendent place as she swayed to the beat. There was a genuineness about the performance; an affection for the song that Grohl shared with the audience when he introduced it.
“If it weren’t for the Beatles, I would not be a musician,” Grohl said. “From a very early age, I loved their groove and their swagger, their grace and their beauty, their dark and their light. The Beatles knew no boundaries, and in that freedom they seemed to define what we now know today as rock and roll, for my parents, for me and for my daughter, too.” Grohl’s daughter stood in her seat and made a heart with her hands until the end of the performance.
“The song I’m proud to play with these great musicians, from the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, is not one of the Beatles’ greatest hits,” he said. “But to me, it’s a quintessential Beatles rocker. Paul’s rolling bass line. The trademark Ringo drum fills. George‘s gritty distorted guitar. And that sound that only the back of John Lennon‘s throat could produce.” Ringo patted himself on the chest, as if to say “me!” during his shout out, and McCartney nodded in affirmation when Grohl mentioned Lennon’s acidic tone. “This is for my mom’s favorite band, my favorite band, and now my daughter’s favorite band,” he said.
The notion of generational appeal said a lot about the show as a whole, dubbed The Night that Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles, as it celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first performance in the U.S. (an event that occurred three years before Grohl was born). The show featured performances by several other musicians too young to have seen the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, including the members of Imagine Dragons, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Maroon 5, alongside those who remember well (the Eurythmics and Joe Walsh).
Grohl had a way of capturing the spirit of the event, as Rolling Stone reported from the performance. In addition to singing, he played drums with Walsh and Gary Clark, Jr. on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and even got his own shout-out from a Beatle. During Starr’s performance of “Yellow Submarine,” the Beatle singled out the Foo Fighter. “Is that your girl?” he asked. “Beautiful!”