This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl

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This Is a Call, the first in-depth, definitive biography of Dave Grohl, tells the epic story of a singular career that includes Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and Them Crooked Vultures. Based on ten years of original, exclusive interviews with the man himself and conversations with a legion of musical associates like Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, DC punk legend Ian MacKaye, and Nevermind producer Butch Vig, this is Grohl’s story. He speaks candidly and honestly about Kurt Cobain, ...
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This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl

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This Is a Call, the first in-depth, definitive biography of Dave Grohl, tells the epic story of a singular career that includes Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and Them Crooked Vultures. Based on ten years of original, exclusive interviews with the man himself and conversations with a legion of musical associates like Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, DC punk legend Ian MacKaye, and Nevermind producer Butch Vig, this is Grohl’s story. He speaks candidly and honestly about Kurt Cobain, the arguments that almost tore Nirvana apart, the feuds that threatened to derail the Foo Fighters’s global success, and the dark days that almost caused him to quit music for good.

Dave Grohl has emerged as one of the most recognizable and respected musicians in the world. He is the last true hero to emerge from the American underground. This Is a Call vividly recounts this incredible rock ’n’ roll journey.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

BuffaloNews, 9/23/11
“Getty Images Offers a thorough—if unauthorized—biography touching on all aspects of Grohl’s career, and paints a fully detailed portrait of the man. Brannigan’s knowledge of his subject is encyclopedic, based on his own interviews, and worth celebrating simply for the manner in which he is able to place Grohl’s work in the context of post-punk history.”

Booklist, 11/1/11
“Brannigan not only offers a penetrating portrait of Grohl the man but also presents an indelible portrait of the American underground-rock scene.”
Kirkus Reviews, 11/15/11
“Brannigan salutes a musician who’s surfaced, prosperous and sane, from the perils of an extended punk-rock adolescence that not all of his friends survived. Reverent and informative.”

Alternative Press, December 2011
“[A] well-researched bio…A fascinating read, This Is a Call doesn’t skimp on entertaining anecdotes, juicy gossip or evidence of Grohl’s immense songwriting talent.” 

Mojo, December 2011
“Grohl and his groups [are] dissected with gumption.”

New YorkDaily News, 10/28/11
The leader of the Foo Fighters comes off as music’s most affable man, but it turns out there’s more turmoil in the ranks than it seems.”

Q Magazine, January 2011
“Quite an achievement…Brannigan draws on his own interviews with Grohl, among others, to plot a compelling journey…A big-hearted, fascinating read.”, 11/30/11
“There is a lot to like about this book in which Brannigan gives us a real insider’s view of Grohl and his rise to the top…The stories are interesting in that they show Grohl as not just a rock hero but as a huge admirer of music who basically just wanted to join the scene that moved him so. There are also more than a share of personal stories that humanize Grohl and his various band mates exposing their vulnerabilities perhaps more than ever before.”, 11/30/11
“[Brannigan] manages to paint a picture of the musical atmosphere that tracks Grohl’s beginnings in punk, through his place in grunge history with Nirvana and up to the Foo’s latest album, ‘Wasted Light.’ The book is filled with vivid details of the different worlds while following Grohl’s growing influence on them…Brannigan throws color into moments and sets musical scenes that you can actually hear…Brannigan knows exactly where to put in a quote and when to use his own knowledge and criticism to push the story forward. His writing has the rhythms and attitudes of the music he describes…A book worth reading for its scope as a series of snapshots of a legendary musical journey.”

New YorkJournal of Books, 11/29/11
“Brannigan’s biography of musician Dave Grohl and his era, reaches ambitiously out of bounds for the conventional pop bio, cradling its subject in layers of context, political and social history…Brannigan’s excellent segues, characterizations, and lyrical zip ensure This Is a Call occasionally tips but never topples under its own weight. The result is an educational and highly entertaining read…Brannigan loops a fascinating narrative around a compelling and likeable character…This is high quality, street cred music journalism, artfully meshed with undoubted musicological and cultural history grunt.”
New Music Michael, 12/6/11
“Brannigan’s book is an exceptional companion piece to the documentary, though certainly has the ability to stand alone as an extraordinary work of the history of Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters, and Nirvana, as well as a host of other local scenes and the music world in general…Most of us already know a lot of the stories that go along with Nirvana, but certainly not to the extent, and not to the depth that Brannigan covers…if you’re a fan of Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters, Nirvana, punk music, hell just music in general, you’ll want to get this book for yourself and dogear the pages.”
Publishers Weekly, 12/12/11
“[An] engaging and insightful bio…Brannigan puts Grohl's influences, inspirations, and early musical career into context…Those who want to get a better understanding of the musician will find this an entertaining and perhaps educational read.”, 12/12/11
“Some rock biographies stand tall above others, revealing much more than a straight chronology of recording and touring. This is a Call is one such book…It draws on a decade of frank interviews with Dave Grohl and friends, and is peppered with fascinating nuggets about Grohl’s own thoughts on his ascent to megastardom. From Grohl being the “goofy” hardcore drummer with Scream, through stardom behind the drumkit with the troubled Nirvana, to his blossoming as the guitar-toting frontman of Foo Fighters, This is a Call tells Grohl’s story with style and candor…One of the definitive rock books of 2011.”
San FranciscoBook Review, December 2011
“Brannigan’s knowledge of the underground punk scene fills out this Dave Grohl biography. He essentially traces the evolution from the Sex Pistols to Nirvana, via Washington D.C., to create an entertaining retelling of the history of hardcore punk.”, 12/13/11
“The first serious attempt to place Grohl and his body of work in the context of rock history…A thoughtful and entertaining rock biography that easily stands among classics by the likes of Mick Wall, Nick Kent, and Neil Strauss…Brannigan, ever the rock journalist, goes far beyond simply telling stories—he prefaces the key periods of the book with engaging essays on how various musical movements grew, what the attitudes were that informed those movements and how they fit into the rock and roll landscape…Impeccably-researched, thoroughly entertaining, and packed with rich new insights, This is a Call will enjoy a place among the absolute best music biographies of the past twenty years.”
The Music Mamas, 12/6/11
“A must-read for music fans.”
CalgaryHerald, 12/13/11
“A well-told testament to a true believer’s perseverance.”
Blurt Online, 12/22/11
“Offers both a journalistic and fan perspective on the Nirvana/Foo Fighters icon, along with a keen eye for detail and context…While This is a Call is clearly about Grohl, Brannigan does a commendable job of putting everything into context beginning with quite possibly the best written documentary of the D.C. punk and hardcore scene Grohl was raised in…[A] well-researched, passionately written book by an author who is a clearly an unabashed fan, but still objective enough to give an unvarnished look at a great band that has struggled through some rough waters at times but ultimately righted the ship.”
Record Collector, January 2012
“Dave Grohl’s tale covers so many bases after 30 or so years in the business that it takes a biographer of consummate skill to get it all down on paper without missing anything out. Fortunately, ex-Kerrang! editor Paul Brannigan has what it takes…What lingers most is the expert way in which so many disparate slices of history are interlaced. After reading This Is a Call, you’ll know much more than you did before about the way that US hardcore merged into Seattle grunge, and how rock shed its skin in the 90s…It’s info such as that which makes this book essential.”
Bookviews blog, January 2012
“The ups and downs of Grohl’s life will no doubt be of interest to rock fans…The biography is quite a ride.”, 1/5/12
“Fans of Grohl’s work, up to and including his appearances with Them Crooked Vultures, will get plenty of name-dropping and behind-the-scenes insights from a writer who has known Grohl since 1997 and does a good job of pulling together many sorts of musical and personal minutiae…Brannigan delivers a nicely written biographical sketch of Grohl.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 12/17/11
“Brannigan…scored amazing access to his subject and the people with whom Grohl worked…Brannigan explores Grohl's early punk influences in great detail and the meteoric rise of Nirvana, offering a frightening insight into the music industry…Grohl's road to success post-Nirvana is an inspiring, honest story.”
New York Times Book Review, 1/22/12
“A rich history of recent pop music as it moves from punk and hard-core to ­grunge to indie bands…Students of that period will find much to dwell on here.”
AOL Noisecreep, 2/13/12
“The book vividly recounts Grohl's incredible, one-of-a-kind rock 'n' roll journey.”
“As a summation of Grohl’s career to date, This Is A Call is packed with information; the extensive discography is another plus. Dave Grohl fans will welcome this comprehensive look at Grohl’s life and work.”
Stuff I Like blog, 2/16/12
“Brannigan does a good job in This Is A Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl of bringing him alive, putting his personality upfront for us, and showing that Grohl has become a kind of spokesperson for quality music.”
CharlestonPost & Courier, 2/12/12“Cool descriptions of the '80s underground punk movement.”

Rock Cellar Magazine, February 2012
“A richly-detailed (and endlessly entertaining) insider account of the eventful career of the Foo Fighters front man and ex-Nirvana drummer…This is a Call presents a side of Grohl that the fans and public aren’t always allowed to see.”

Warren Tribune Chronicle, 2/18/12
“Brannigan doesn’t turn Grohl into a saint, but he does create a portrait of a man whose love of music is absolute.”
Midwest Book Review, February 2012
Any rock music collection will find this an outstanding and popular choice.”
Slug, April issue
“A refreshing and thorough look into the life and psyche of one of the most vital and relevant forces in rock music today. Get it, ‘cause it’ll probably rank as the definitive one.”

, August 2012
“Grohl’s story is some tale to tell…[and] Brannigan tackles it adeptly.”

Curled Up with a Good Book, 8/21/12“Illuminating…This is the first fully-fleshed look at the musician…Brannigan looks at a young Grohl finding his way as a musician and follows him as he becomes part of Nirvana, one of the most influential bands of the grunge movement. A large part of the book is dedicated to this period, and the author makes sense of the phenomenon. This Is a Call is a well-written book.”

HudsonValleyNews, 1/30/13
“If you’re a fan of that kind of music and the guys that make it, you’ll want to gobble up This Is a Call.”, 3/15/13
“The definitive biography of the most prolific—and popular—drummer of his generation…This Is a Call is mandatory reading material for any self-respecting rock aficionado; one need not be a Grohl disciple to appreciate the fruits of Brannigan’s tireless research or elegiac prose. Thorough, thoughtful, brisk, riveting, and revelatory, This Is a Call is not only the tale of one man’s transformation from monster drummer to the bearded front man regarded as “the nicest guy in rock,” but also a crucial capsule summary of the peripheral persons and events that would impact all facets of rock, metal, punk, and hardcore today.”

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

A music lover from an early age, Dave Grohl is known for his boundless energy, positive attitude, and enthusiasm. Whether drumming for Nirvana or fronting the Foo Fighters, he has endured as one of rock's living legends. Brannigan, former editor of UK metal magazine Kerrang!, painstakingly details Grohl's rise to prominence in this engaging and insightful bio. Interviewing childhood friends, current and former band mates, musical peers, and "The Nicest Man in Rock" himself, Brannigan puts Grohl's influences, inspirations, and early musical career into context. Digressions on the history of punk, particularly the Washington, D.C. hardcore scene in which Grohl cut his teeth, may distract some readers from the primary tale of Grohl's life, but fans of the Foo Fighters who are unfamiliar with the importance of bands like Bad Brains and Minor Threat in Grohl's musical education will likely find plenty of new music to explore. Those looking for dirt and confessions won't find either here; Grohl is an affable, occasionally opinionated subject, but in Brannigan's hands the drummer/guitarist is more interested in moving forward than dwelling on past slights. Casual readers may find the focus on Grohl's early years myopic, but those who want to get a better understanding of the musician will find this an entertaining and perhaps educational read.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Reviews
Former Kerrang! editor Brannigan's scattershot attempt at presenting a definitive biographical portrait of reluctant rock star Dave Grohl. The author's unauthorized bio of Nirvana drummer turned Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl is his first book, and in some ways it reflects the author's lack of experience. Brannigan allows his subject's personal history to be swallowed up by the larger cultural history that his bands helped to shape. For example, when broaching the subject of Grohl's early interest in punk, the author provides a mediocre textbook history of punk rock, followed by a surface-skimming overview of the Washington, D.C., hardcore scene that would eventually lure Grohl into its clutches. Grohl was a high-school dropout touring with hardcore bands by the time he was 17; yet he was rarely the dominant personality in any of his bands, from his younger days in hardcore outfits Dain Bramage and Scream, to his drumming duties in world-conquering grunge band Nirvana. Brannigan begins to deal with Grohl's tenure in Nirvana during the peak of that band's success around 1992. Even in his own post-Nirvana project Foo Fighters, it wasn't until almost a decade into this second career that he finally embraced his public role as bandleader. Brannigan, obviously stretching his limited access to Grohl, takes a bio-by-the-numbers approach to the Foo Fighters legacy. We're privy to a few mild controversies and personality clashes during the making of each album, as well as the predictable listing of critical notices from the rock press and Grohl's always-brief side of things. If this book is a reliable measure, Grohl is a simple, uncontroversial, not-particularly-quotable guy who saves his self-expression for his music. If nothing else, Brannigan salutes a musician who's surfaced, prosperous and sane, from the perils of an extended punk-rock adolescence that not all of his friends survived. Reverent and informative, but too distanced from its subject.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306821424
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 2/5/2013
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 165,465
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Former editor of Kerrang! magazine Paul Brannigan is a respected authority on the punk scene in Washington, DC, where Dave Grohl cut his teeth. He has written about Grohl for Mojo magazine and lives in London.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

Foreword ix

Learn to fly 1

This is a call 23

Chaotic hardcore underage delinquents 53

Gods look down 79

Negative creep 118

Lounge act 148

Smells like teen spirit 169

I hate myself and I want to die 205

I'll stick around 230

My poor brain 255

Disenchanted lullaby 281

Home 314

These days 334

Sources 355

Bibliography 373

Discography 375

Index 381

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2011

    If you're searching for the backstory....

    I've am a massive Dave Grohl, Scream, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, QOTSA and TCV fan. This book was excellent, extremely detailed and gives the long and winding story of the punk underground scene and evolution of music that has influenced Dave and all the many, many, many projects and musicians he has been involved with.
    It is not a personal story from the standpoint of juicy details and gossip of his private life. If that's what you're after, you will be disappointed.
    This Is a Call is well-written, pieced together from first-hand experience and interviews of the author as well as other public records, interviews, and some quite private moments.
    I enjoyed knowing a bit more about how Dave Grohl's musical life was shaped, and how deeply rooted music is in his marrow. It is, in the rarest and truest sense, a calling. And for those of us who appreciate his musical talent, we are all better for it.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

    just a great book about a once in a lifetime good quality musici

    just a great book about a once in a lifetime good quality musician.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2013



    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Just a sampling

    Isnt a enough... need this book now! It is from humble beginnings that great talent had, is and will be born. Such is the case of Dave Grohl.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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