Thursday April 27, 2017

Raising a rock star: Dave Grohl's mother on the moms behind music's biggest names

Dave Grohl and his mother Virginia in a New York studio, speaking to CBC q's host, Tom Power.

Dave Grohl and his mother Virginia in a New York studio, speaking to CBC q's host, Tom Power. (Courtesy of Eva Fryscak)

Listen 23:53

Dave Grohl was just a teenager when he dropped out of high school to be in a punk band. In that moment, his mom Virginia had two options: to support him or say no.

Many of us may know how Dave's life turned out — he drummed for Nirvana and Them Crooked Vultures and fronts his own band, Foo Fighters — but now fans can read about Virginia's perspective on her son's success in her new book, From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars (out now).

"The school battle was pretty prominent among all rock moms that I talked to," Virginia reveals, about her experiences talking to other mothers of rock stars such as Dr. Dre, Amy Winehouse and Geddy Lee. "The complaints of the lack of focus, they all turned it towards music and went in that direction." 

For Virginia, a key element of letting her son go off and tour instead of staying in school was trust. Because of that, she says she didn't feel as worried when he was gone. She adds, "I knew he would be fine; he would be happy because what he set out to do was make music."

But tough times did arise, such as the death of Dave's Nirvana band mate, Kurt Cobain who Virginia remembers as "very charming and very smart." 

Following Cobain's suicide, which made headlines around the world, Dave returned home. The comfort of being at home, near his mom, was exactly what he needed especially to deal with panic attacks that he had developed during his time in the band as it grew bigger and more popular. "Whenever I was overwhelmed, I'd go back home," Dave reveals. "It really got me through a lot of that time." 

Now, all these years later, Dave and his mom not only spend time together at home, but also on tour. Dave even recalls a time when he walked into his band's trailer to find his mom drinking beers with pop-punk band, Green Day. Virginia laughs and responds, "You meet the nicest people on tour!"

— Produced by Chris Trowbridge