Foo Fighters: All About the Members of the Iconic Rock Band
Foo Fighters was established in 1997 and has had several different members since
With 15 Grammys, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and hits songs like "Everlong," "Learn to Fly" and "All My Life," the Foo Fighters are one of the most popular rock bands around.
After the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, the band's drummer, Dave Grohl, formed Foo Fighters — first as a solo project and then with bandmates. The original lineup consisted of Grohl, Pat Smear, Nate Mendel and William Goldsmith. However, a few years later, the band's best-known lineup came to be: Grohl, Mendel, Chris Shifflet and Taylor Hawkins. Smear later rejoined the band in 2010, and Rami Jaffe joined in 2017.
Foo Fighters has been hugely successful, critically and with fans. Among their 15 Grammy Award wins are a record-setting five wins for best rock album. They won the award for 1999's There Is Nothing Left to Lose, 2002's One by One, 2007's Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2011's Wasting Light and 2021's Medicine at Midnight.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021. This marked Grohl's second time being inducted, as he was previously honored as part of Nirvana in 2014. Also in 2021, Foo Fighters became the first-ever recipients of the U.S. Global Icon Award at the MTV Video Music Awards.
"Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen for having us here tonight," Grohl said, accepting the award while surrounded by his bandmates. "It's quite an award to receive. We've been a band for 26 years, so it feels pretty good."
Not long after celebrating these honors, Hawkins, the band's drummer since 1997, died on March 25, 2022. The group paid homage to him with a tribute concert in London that September.
They also shared a message about Hawkins on Dec. 31, 2022, and let fans know that they intended to continue on as a band.
"Without Taylor, we never would have become the band that we were–and without Taylor, we know that we're going to be a different band going forward," the message read. "We also know that you, the fans, meant as much to Taylor as he meant to you. And we know that when we see you again–and we will soon–he'll be there in spirit with all of us every night."
In May 2023, the band revealed their newest member, drummer Josh Freese. The group made the announcement during their Foo Fighters: Preparing Music For Concerts livestream.
Here's everything to know about each member of Foo Fighters, including their personal lives and other projects.
Dave Grohl, 54
Dave Grohl was born David Eric Grohl in Warren, Ohio, on Jan. 14, 1969, but was raised in Virginia.
Grohl started in the band Scream before joining Nirvana as a drummer in 1990. Cobain and Krist Novoselic had previously worked with several other drummers, including on their debut album, Bleach, which did not feature Grohl.
Following Cobain's death in 1994, Grohl created Foo Fighters as a solo project and released the self-titled debut album in 1995. When the album proved successful, Grohl expanded Foo Fighters into a band. The band, where he serves as lead singer and guitarist, has now released 10 studio albums spanning 26 years.
In addition to Foo Fighters, Grohl has also worked with other artists, including in the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones.
Being a rock musician for so long has taken a toll on Grohl, especially because he said he doesn't like to use in-ear monitors during concerts. During an interview on The Howard Stern Show in 2022, he described himself as " "f------ deaf" and said, "I've been reading lips for 20 years."
Outside of music, Grohl has made documentary films, including Sound City (2013) and Sonic Highways (2014). He released his memoir, The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music, in 2021. The book includes memories from his childhood, as well as from his career in music with Nirvana and Foo Fighters.
"There is a common thread that runs throughout everything that I do [and that's] storytelling," the musician said in a press release. "Whether in song, documentary film or on the page, I have always felt compelled to share moments from my life," he continued. "This inclination is a huge part of what excites me creatively but also as a human being."
Grohl has been married twice: to Jennifer Leigh Youngblood from 1994 to 1997, and to Jordyn Blum since 2003. Together, Grohl and Blum have three daughters: Violet, Harper and Ophelia.
Oliver Taylor Hawkins was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb. 17, 1972, but grew up in Laguna Beach, California.
Prior to joining the Foo Fighters, Hawkins played for other bands and was a touring drummer for Alanis Morissette. He joined the Foo Fighters in 1997 after William Goldsmith left the group. The first album he was featured on was 1999's There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
"I got ahold of his number and I said, 'Hey, I heard you guys are out of a drummer right now,' " Hawkins told Entertainment Weekly of contacting Grohl about joining the band. "And Dave said, 'Yeah. Do you have any good recommendations?' And I was like, 'Well how about me you a------?' "
During his career with Foo Fighters, Hawkins also performed with other musicians, including the band Coheed and Cambria, and he started his own band called Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders.
In March 2022, Hawkins died at age 50. The band was in Bogotá, Colombia, for a concert when Hawkins complained of chest pains. An ambulance was sent to his hotel, but attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. Later, Colombian authorities shared that a "toxicology test on urine from Taylor Hawkins' body preliminarily found 10 types of substances, including: THC, tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines and opioids."
Foo Fighters and other musicians paid tribute to Hawkins at a concert in London in September 2022. "For those of you who knew him personally, you know that no one else could make you smile or laugh or dance or sing like he could," Grohl said at the show. "And for those of you that admired him from afar, I'm sure you've all felt the same thing."
At the concert, Hawkins' teenage son, Oliver Shane, played drums during the song "My Hero." In addition to Oliver, Hawkins and his wife since 2005, Alison Hawkins, had two other children: Annabelle and Everleigh.
Pat Smear, 63
Foo Fighters guitarist Pat Smear was born Georg Albert Ruthenberg in Los Angeles on Aug. 5, 1959.
Prior to joining Foo Fighters, Smear was involved with two other bands. He was a founding member of the punk band the Germs in the 1970s. He went on to perform with Nirvana on tour. When Grohl morphed Foo Fighters from a solo project into a band, Smear was among the first members.
"Some time after Dave got Nate [Mendel] and William [Goldsmith] up in Seattle together he called me in L.A. and said 'Hey do you really want to do this thing?' I said 'Yeah!' " Smear told Entertainment Weekly. "And I remember driving to the airport and stopping at Black Market Music, which was this cool used musical-instrument store that was on the way. I bought an amp pad there and carried it on the plane and then showed up at rehearsal."
Smear was a member of Foo Fighters from 1995 to 1997. He rejoined the band on tour in 2005 and as a full-time member in 2010. He has also released solo music, including two studio albums: Ruthensmear in 1987, and So You Fell in Love with a Musician... in 1992.
Nate Mendel, 54
Nate Mendel, the Foo Fighters' bass guitarist, was born in Richland, Washington, on Dec. 2, 1968.
Before he joined Foo Fighters, Mendel was a founding member of the indie rock band Sunny Day Real Estate, which came together in 1992. He released two albums with the band, 1994's Diary and 1995's Sunny Day Real Estate.
Drummer William Goldsmith was also a member of Sunny Day Real Estate, and in 1995, they both left their band to join Foo Fighters. Mendel told Entertainment Weekly that Sunny Day Real Estate was "in the process of disintegrating," so he contacted Grohl, with whom he had mutual friends, to see if Grohl would be interested in himself and Goldsmith joining his new band.
"I just called him out of the blue having met him a couple times, like, 'There's a rhythm section floating around and you may need one,' " Mendel said.
Mendel and Sunny Day Real Estate reunited a couple of times over the years, but he also stayed in Foo Fighters throughout. Other than Grohl, Mendel is the musician who has been with the band the longest. Mendel has produced solo music and developed side projects including his 2015 album If I Kill This Thing We're All Going to Eat for a Week released under the name Lieutenant.
Mendel married his wife, Kate Jackson, in 2014 and the couple have twins.
William Goldsmith, 50
Drummer William Goldsmith was born on July 4, 1972, in Seattle, Washington.
Like Mendel, Goldsmith was a founding member of Sunny Day Real Estate and left the group to join Foo Fighters in 1995. He also rejoined Sunny Day Real Estate a few times over the years when they reunited, but unlike Mendel, he is still a current member of the band.
Goldsmith's time with Foo Fighters was brief. He left the group in 1997 after being featured on the album The Colour and the Shape, which came out that year. In addition to continuing to perform with Sunny Day Real Estate, he's also been in other bands, including The Fire Theft — which was formed by Sunny Day Real Estate members — and his latest band, Assertion.
In a 2017 interview with the Daily Mail, he talked about his time with Foo Fighters and explained that he left after he found out that much of his drumming was re-recorded for The Colour and the Shape. Goldsmith felt this wasn't adequately communicated to him by Grohl or the producers.
"The next thing you know all of the work I had done was gone except for one or two of the tracks," the drummer said.
"The way things were handled, and what was done to me, I do think that staying in that band would have made me feel like my soul was destroyed and I would have likely ended up dead," he continued, noting that he had turned to drugs and alcohol because of the pressure he was under.
He also shared that he didn't make music for attention or money. "The reason I started playing music was because it was a spiritual form of protest," he said.
The outlet reported that Goldsmith has three children. "The way I look at it now is if it hadn't have happened the records I made afterwards wouldn't have been made and I wouldn't have had the children I have," he said.
Franz Stahl, 60
Guitarist Franz Kenneth Stahl was born in Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia, on Oct. 30, 1962.
Stahl was a founding member of the hardcore punk band Scream before he joined Foo Fighters. He and Grohl met when the latter joined Scream as a teenager.
After Scream broke up in 1990, Stahl played with other groups until 1997 when he joined Foo Fighters as Smear's replacement. He was touring with a musician in Japan when he found out about the chance to join the band from his brother and Scream bandmate Pete Stahl.
"I was in Tokyo when my brother called me and said, 'Hey, Dave might be calling you because I think they might need a guitar player,' " Stahl told The Washington Post in 2011. "So that same day, Dave called me at my hotel and asked me if I wanted to be in the Foo Fighters. Of course, you don't have to twist my arm. It was crazy."
He then flew to New York City, where he had one day of rehearsal before performing at Radio City Music Hall. "It was such an insane 48 hours," he said.
Stahl's time with the band was short-lived. According to NME, he was fired from the group. Grohl later said, "It just seemed like the three of us were moving in one direction and Franz wasn't."
Stahl told the Washington City Paper in 2012 that "it didn't end well" with Foo Fighters and that he didn't see Grohl for years. But, eventually, they both put it behind them and worked together when Stahl was recording an EP.
"To be honest, we haven't really talked about it. But at some point down the road we started texting each other and chatting," he said. "I'd certainly say we're on much better terms than we were before."
Scream reunited in 2010, and Stahl remains a member of the band today. He has also made music for movies, TV and commercials.
Stahl is a father and has shared photos of his daughter on Instagram.
Chris Shiflett, 52
Christopher Aubrey Shiflett was born in Santa Barbara, California, on May 6, 1971.
The guitarist joined Foo Fighters in 1999 following the recording of their third album There Is Nothing Left to Lose. He went to an audition for the band following the departure of Stahl. Shiflett told Entertainment Weekly about the audition process.
"I sat there for what felt like an eternity, but it was probably about 15 minutes, just psyching myself out going 'Oh, f---. They're in there just vibing with whoever's in there that totally just killed it. That guy's for sure getting it,' " Shiflett explained. "And then the door opened and the guy walked out, and I went in there to do my audition and Dave just said, 'Oh my God Chris, you saved us! That guy wouldn't leave.' "
Shiflett has been in the band ever since. Before joining, he was a member of the punk bands No Use for a Name and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. He continued to be a part of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes during his time in Foo Fighters, but is no longer with the band. He's also released music as a solo artist. His newest album, Lost at Sea, will be released in 2023.
As reported by the Santa Barbara Independent, Shiflett and his wife, Cara Shiflett, have three children.
"My kids help keep it real — at home, I'm just Dad," he told the publication. He said that when he told his youngest son that he was going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he responded, "That's cool! Hey, can you make me some eggs?"
Rami Jaffee, 54
Keyboardist Rami Jaffee was born on March 11, 1969, in L.A.
Jaffee was in another popular rock band prior to joining Foo Fighters. From 1989 to 2005, he was the keyboardist for the Wallflowers and was in the band when it won two Grammy Awards in 1998 for the hit "One Headlight."
Jaffee first began performing with Foo Fighters in 2005 after leaving the Wallflowers.
"I was in the Wallflowers from 1989 until kind of recently; that's another tumultuous story," Jaffee told Entertainment Weekly. "Me and Jakob [Dylan, the Wallflowers' frontman], we weren't seeing eye to eye. Once Dave and the [guys] finished the regular touring on In Your Honor around 2004, he called and said, 'Hey, why don't you come and play some keyboards and we'll do an acoustic tour of theaters, sitting down and all that?' "
From then on, Jaffee continued performing with the band and became a full-time member in 2017.
"But as far as becoming an official member, that just literally accidentally fell into place on our last record, Concrete and Gold," the musician continued. "Every time there was a photoshoot in the last 15 years, you'd see me, like, meandering on the side. Dave I guess finally had a meeting with the other guys and said, 'Let's just put him in the damn band already.' "
Jaffee has also worked as a session musician with other artists, including Johnny Cash, Macy Gray, Everclear and Melissa Etheridge. According to an interview with The Malibu Times, Jaffee has a daughter, Tovy, from an 11-year marriage that ended in 2002.
Josh Freese, 50
Born on Dec. 25, 1972, in Orlando, Florida, session drummer Josh Freese is Foo Fighters' newest drummer. He will be taking the reins following the death of Hawkins.
The band announced the news in May 2023 during their Foo Fighters: Preparing Music For Concerts livestream, which was of a studio session recorded at Studio 606. At the beginning of the video, the band is seen preparing to rehearse, however, they are interrupted by cameos from Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith, Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee and Tool's Danny Carey. Freese, who is wearing a nametag with his first name on it, then interjects and says, "Um, excuse me ... Guys, could we just like, I don't know, play a song? Or two, something."
Freese comes from a strong musical background; his dad was a tuba player and the musical director for the Walt Disney Company, while his mother was a classical pianist. He got his start at a young age, performing in the cover band Polo at Disneyland's Tomorrowland Terrance. At just 14 years old, he told the Los Angeles Times that he wanted to "become a household name."
He went on to be a successful session and touring drummer, working with the likes of Good Charlotte, Travis Barker, Kelly Clarkson, Sting and Paramore, among others.
As for his personal life, he and his wife, Nicole, have four children.
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