It was exactly 19 years ago today that Foo Fighters released “This Is a Call,” their very first single. Former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl began recording demos just months after Kurt Cobain died, playing nearly all the instruments himself. He never imagined there would be a wide audience for the music, and at the time he was seriously considering becoming the new drummer in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
“I was this close to joining,” he told Rolling Stone in 1995. “When they rehearsed they treated me like I was in the band. It was such an honor. But I figured that I was 26 years old and didn’t want to become a drummer for hire.”
Instead, he focused on his own music. The early Foo Fighters songs were recorded in a Seattle studio with producer Barrett Jones. The vast majority of the tunes were written while Grohl was still in Nirvana, though “This Is a Call” came afterwards. As the tape started circulating through the industry and picked up buzz, Grohl decided it was time to hit the road. He recruited former Nirvana touring guitarist Pat Smear and the rhythm section of Sunny Deal Real Estate, who had just broken up.
The new group toured the country in a van like absolute maniacs that year, playing over 120 shows. Debut single “This Is a Call” dropped on June 19th and they played it on Letterman two months later. (Here’s video of that performance, which was their first on national television.) The single peaked at Number Two on the Modern Rock Track chart, though they wouldn’t have a crossover hit until “Big Me” in early 1996. That song turned them into MTV favorites and they’ve been one of the most popular rock bands on the planet ever since. It all began nineteen years ago today.