Kurt Cobain Almost Banned Dave Grohl From Performing Nirvana's 'Unplugged' Show

Grohl's skin-bashing didn't appeal to frontman for an acoustic session.

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Marking the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's iconic "Unplugged" record, MTV unveiled exclusive footage of behind-the-scenes state of affairs, confirming that Dave Grohl for nearly booted from the gig for being too much of a skin-basher. As producer Alex Coletti noted, "up until the day [of the concert], there was talk of Dave not playing at all in the show. Kurt wasn't happy with the way rehearsals were going; he didn't like the way Dave sounded playing drums with sticks. "Dave's a heavy hitter, and the thing about 'Unplugged' is, if the drummer doesn't get it under control, it makes it a bad-sounding electric show, instead of a good-sounding acoustic show," Coletti explained, noting that he eventually even bought Grohl a pair of wire brushes to soften the hit. "And, typical Dave, he just went 'Oh cool, I never had these before!'" the producer said. So the tension was at an all-time high basically until the very beginning of the show. Dave ultimately did handle the drumming duties and the album became one of the classics. However, on one of the songs, the "Pennyroyal Tea" track, Kurt decided to go on his own. It might seem a bit staged while watching it live, but the brief chat between Cobain and Grohl regarding the drummer's participation was where the decision was actually made. "That song meant a lot to him," said director Beth McCarthy-Miller, "it was very personal, wand he wanted to feel simple and raw, just him singing his heart out. Any other instruments were getting in the way of the emotion of the song for him. Dave plays drums like Animal from 'The Muppet Show,' and Kurt knew that, he was very deliberate about it. He wanted it to be his song." Check out documentary clips and the "Pennyroyal Tea" performance below and let us know what you think in the comments.

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    crazyhorse174
    "...that Dave Grohl for nearly booted from the gig for being too much of a skin-basher." Does not compute...
    lou.tjahjono
    Just a fancy, or confusing, way of saying he was drumming too loud.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    if you watch the Nevermind Classic Albums episode Butch Vig talks about how hard it was for Dave to track the drums on "Something In The Way" because he naturally hits hard.
    Intersting
    Actually, it was hard for him to track the drums because Kurt insisted on not using a click track, the tempo is all over the place.
    VertigoViking
    He didn't insist on it. The song was basically recorded while Cobain was playing it all by himself. And then they added everything else later. That's why the tempo is all over the place.
    BwareDWare94
    Not fancy. The inclusion of "for nearly" is completely out of place and makes zero sense.
    Ultima2876
    It's a slight mistake - 'for' instead of 'was'; "confirming that Dave Grohl was nearly booted from the gig for being too much of a skin-basher."
    UncleBluck
    How could Curt do that...didn't he know Dave was soon to become GOD....at least in the imaginations of the average UG bloggers.....
    rebreh
    Kind of the ultimate tribute in my opinion. No you can't play with us cuz you go too damn hard in the muthaf&^%in paint
    ehbacon
    personally I thought that meant they were mad at him for taking his shirt off or something. \_([u]" )_/
    USCENDONE BENE
    Kurt was very picky when it came to this show. You can watch other rehearsals (The Man Who Sold The World comes to mind) from the unplugged show where he gets annoyed at the way Pat Smear was playing and how it was distracting Kurt from his own performance. If you read Heavier Than Heaven, Charles Cross contends that Cobain was very self-conscious about this show and really wanted it to sound good. They also nearly dropped the Meat Puppets covers until they got the Kirkwood brothers in to help. I think that Nirvana's Unplugged show was just poorly prepared for overall if they only decided on the day that Grohl should use brushes. Sensationalist headline again
    GenerationKILL
    "oh cool, I've never had these before!" Who else lol'd at the visual they got of Dave being stoked for wire brushes? Dave was laid back and cool, even back in the day!
    beastpenis
    Has anyone not heard this story before? Tomorrow UG Headline: "Ringo Starr not Original Beatle's Drummer"
    Tantamount
    As is the case with NIRVANA, we're lucky to have anything at all. Thank god this show was captured before he died. Just makes me wonder how many other remarkable gems he would have gone on to create had he lived. Such a terrible and tragic waste
    Dime6String
    Why all the bashing on Kurt Cobain lately? O.o
    Brandon1993
    I think it may be because they're up for induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
    BwareDWare94
    I'd say it's because there's a large group of fans who know that the other three bands from the big four of grunge were significantly more talented than Nirvana and therefore dislike that Nirvana gets all the glory, to this day.
    abacus!
    Significantly more talented musicians, yes. Significantly more talented songwriters? Not a chance.
    BwareDWare94
    Ten, Superunknown, and Dirt are significantly better than anything Nirvana ever released. Yes, they were absolutely better songwriters.
    Hungry_Hameds
    No, they weren't. Musically they were better yes, McCready, Cantrell and Thayill are all better guitarists than Kurt, Cornell, Vedder and Staley are all better singers, Grohl is the best drummer, but overall yes the other 3 are musically better. But as a songwriter, Kurt was the man. Release by PJ is an amazingly well written song, so is Down in a Hole, but Kurt wrote at this level pretty much for every song, not the odd track. I love all 4 bands, but you're wrong sir.
    leo4sf
    I agree with 90% of this. With the exception that Matt Cameron is a WAY better drummer than Grohl.
    Tantamount
    Even if those guys were "better guitarists" than Cobain, Grohl was hands down the best drummer.
    mitch311
    I dunno, Sean Kinney and Matt Cameron also kick ass. They all of have their own styles though so there's no hands down "best"
    bobmarley_fan
    I like Sean Kinney. And while we are talking about acoustic sets It was Sean Kinney's Idea for AIC to make an acoustic album. So by the time they did their MTV unplugged Sean Kinney already had two acoustic albums under his belt.
    Iommianity
    Nah, Dave isn't better than Matt Cameron. They're both solid drummers cut from the same cloth, but Matt's definitely a better drummer. The stuff he does on Soundgarden's sludgier tunes or anything with whacked out time signatures proves that. Music isn't a contest so being technically better doesn't mean you're musically superior, but if you dig deep and compare the two Dave's about doing a lot with a little.
    AwesomeOne3
    So, Dave Ghrol almost didn't play for the unplugged show because he was to much of a skin basher. They complained that he was too loud, Nirvanas a loud band, but I do think tat Dave needs to take it down a notch for the unplugged show. Plus I can't believe its been 20 years of that show
    Brands99
    well could you imagine dave playing in an acoustic show the way he plays live at massive concerts????? it would have been a disaster! still love the album!
    USCENDONE BENE
    Also, this video from the making of Nevermind covers how this was an issue within the band before Unplugged, see the part where Butch Vig talks about the drum takes: