Nirvana had already released their first album, Bleach (on which Dale Crover and Chad Channing played drums), in 1989 and soon set to work with Grohl on their follow-up album, which would be called Nevermind.
Nevermind was released on September, 24, 1991, raged to the top of the charts, and wreaked havoc on the popular music scene. Hard-hitting, yet melodic, Nevermind led the charge for grunge and "alternative" music, which also included the bands Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains. Grohl's bashing backbeats and raucous rolls with a Ringo Starr-esque touch helped elevate Nirvana as the most important rock band of the '90s.
Incesticide, a collection of B-sides and demos, followed Nevermind, with Grohl playing drums on 6 of the 15 cuts. Then came In Utero, released on September 21, 1993, and widely considered to be Nirvana's masterpiece. Unfortunately, 7 months later, Cobain killed himself, and Nirvana was done. MTV Unplugged In New York, recorded on November 18, 1993, was released after Cobain's death in the fall of 1994.
Prior to the death of Cobain and Nirvana, Grohl had been working on some music of his own. However, he was so broken up about Cobain's death that he almost quit playing music entirely. Nonetheless, Grohl persevered with the help of friends and continued making what would be the first Foo Fighers album.
Grohl played all the instruments (he has played guitar since age 10) on the album--which was called Foo Fighters and was released on July 4, 1995--except for Greg Dulli's (the lead singer of Afghan Whigs) guitar part on the song "X-Static." Grohl wanted to tour to support the album, but he had no band. He soon found the pieces, though: Pat Smear, who had joined Nirvana as its second guitarist, and former Sunny Day Real Estate members Nate Mendel (bass) and William Goldsmith (drums). Grohl emerged--or rather, burst--from the behind the drum kit to play guitar and sing for Foo Fighters.
Foo Fighters went platinum and spawned three hit singles: "This Is A Call," "I'll Stick Around," and "Big Me." Grohl's primal screaming and seemingly endless energy on stage impressed many. The band was becoming a force.
An amalgamation of live Nirvana performances became the album From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, which was released in 1996 and signified the true end of the Nirvana and grunge era. Grohl, meanwhile, went back in the studio and began recording Foo Fighters' second album, which would be called The Colour And The Shape.
This project was different for Grohl because he was working this time not only with band members, but as a band leader. During recording, however, Goldsmith decided to leave the band, so Grohl took over drum duties again (although Goldsmith did play drums on the cuts "Doll" and the slow part of "Up In Arms").
Grohl was able to find a new drummer relatively quickly. Soon after the recording of The Colour And The Shape, Taylor Hawkins, who had most recently played with Alanis Morissette, joined the band. Hawkins' photo appeared in the liner notes for The Colour And The Shape, even though he didn't play on the album.
The Colour And The Shape was released on June 20, 1997, and generated four hits: "Monkey Wrench," "Everlong," "My Hero," and "Walking After You." The Foos hit the road soon after, but in the fall of 1997, the band lost another member. At the MTV Video Music Awards, Pat Smear announced he was leaving the band, and Foo Fighters introduced Franz Stahl, one of Grohl's former bandmates in Scream, to take Smear's spot.
Touring in support of The Colour And The Shape, Foo Fighters continued to solidify their place as the kings of post-grunge rock. After being on the road extensively, the Foos rested a bit and then prepared to record another album. Stahl left the band after the tour, and Foo Fighters became a trio for the There Is Nothing Left To Lose sessions.
Grohl, Hawkins, and Mendel went to Grohl's house in Virginia to make the third Foo Fighters album in the spring of 1999. There Is Nothing Left To Lose was released on November 2, 1999, and the first single, "Learn to Fly," received an enormous amount of radio play, as did "Breakout." "Stacked Actors" and "Generator" were also released as singles.
The Foos did some light touring at the end of 1999 and early 2000 with Chris Shiflett as a new guitarist. In March, 2000, they started playing dates as the opening band for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. When this tour was over, Foo Fighters continued blazing a trail on the road on their own and with bands like Queens of the Stone Age.
In February 2001, Foo Fighters won 2 Grammy Awards: Best Rock Album for There Is Nothing Left To Lose and Best Short Form Music Video for "Learn To Fly." In March 2001, Grohl and Hawkins inducted Queen, one of their favorite rock groups, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Grohl and Hawkins joined 2 of the 3 surviving members of Queen, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, onstage for a riveting version of the Queen classic "Tie Your Mother Down."