Last week, CBS aired Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince, all-star musical special filmed following this year’s Grammy Awards in January.
Alongside the two-hour broadcast, The Recording Academy shared a number of interviews with the participating musicians on their favorite Prince memories to its YouTube page. In one of these videos, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl explains how he wound up jamming with the artist in an empty L.A. Forum.
As Grohl explains in the clip, during Prince‘s 21-night residency at the Forum in 2011, he and a group of his friends took a party bus to the arena to catch a show. By the time Grohl and his crew got to the arena, Grohl and his crew were admittedly “hammered.”
When they arrived at the venue, the band’s security guy, who also worked with Prince, let Grohl know, “[Prince] knows you’re here, he’s gonna call you up to jam.”
An inebriated Grohl quickly backed away from the idea: “I’ve had one too many already, I’m not going up there with Prince like this. Anybody else in the world I would jump up onstage and make a mess, but Prince? No way.”
Continues Grohl, “After the show, [their security guy] says, ‘Hey, he wants to meet you.’ I said, ‘Alright,’ and so he goes ‘stand over here.’ … And I open up this curtain and there’s Prince and Sheila E. And I’m just like, [mind-blown explosion sound], my ’80s brain exploded. We start talking and he said, ‘Yeah, we should jam sometime.’ I said, ‘Absolutely’.”
After discussing schedules for when they would collab (Grohl: “It’s your show, you’re here for a month”), they landed on the following Friday.
Grohl goes on to explain that he excitedly called his manager that Monday to tell him about how he was going to jam with Prince. After his manager informed him that they had given Prince his number to coordinate, Grohl waited in anticipation for the next several days. Prince, however, never called.
By the time Thursday rolled around, Grohl was still in the dark. When he arrived at the Forum, he was informed that Prince wasn’t sound-checking that day. Still unsure if the collab was going to happen—and what they were going to play if so—Grohl made his way out onstage to make sure that his gear was at least on the stage.
As Grohl explains, “I was talking to my guitar tech, and … [Prince] just, like appears. And he goes, ‘Hey, man! What’re you doing here?’ And I said, ‘I thought we were gonna jam!’ And he goes, ‘You wanna jam?’ And I go, ‘Yeah.’ And he goes, ‘You wanna play drums?’ And I go, ‘Yeah!'”
“So I sit down, I start playing. And he goes to the bass player, ‘Gimme the bass,’ and now we’re playing together and he’s kind of checking me out. And he’s, like, throwing hand signal chord signs. … And it turns into this thing. Empty arena, dude. Nobody was there. I was like, ‘This is amazing.'”
After they finished the song and Prince complimented Grohl on his “heavy foot,” Prince picked up a guitar and started playing “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin, so Dave jumped in and did his John Bonham thing. “I’m like, ‘Oh God, this is the best band I’ve ever been in in my life, this is unbelievable.”
Prince seemed to feel the same way. According to Grohl, after they finished, Prince, “was like, ‘man, that’s amazing! We should do that!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah we should do that!'”
“And he goes, ‘What’re you doing next week?'” concludes Grohl, “And I never saw him again.” Watch Dave Grohl tell the full story about his empty Forum jam with Prince below:
Dave Grohl Talks Jamming w/ Prince In An Empty Arena
[Video: Recording Academy / GRAMMYs]
One of the more buzzed-about moments from the memorable Let’s Go Crazy special was Foo Fighters’ grunge-inflected reading of Prince’s “Darling Nikki”, which they recorded for their 2011 album, Medium Rare. Before the song, Dave Grohl joked that he was pretty sure Prince never liked their version very much. Of note, Prince was no stranger to covering Foo Fighters himself, as he famously worked a cover of “Best of You” into his iconic Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2007.
Watch a clip of Foo Fighters performing “Darling Nikki” at the Grammy Salute to Prince below:
Foo Fighters – “Darling Nikki” [Prince cover, partial]