Can Dave Grohl Read Music?

If you’re a fan of rock bands like Scream, Nirvana, and the Foo Fighters. You should definitely know who Dave Grohl is. If you haven’t, read on to learn more about this amazing musician.

While you’d think most musicians are taught and able to read notes to play. The fact of the matter is, not all do. In fact, Dave Grohl does not read music at all. Instead, he plays by ear and this is a skill only gifted musicians have.

Who is Dave Grohl?

David Eric Grohl was born on January 14, 1969 in Warren, Ohio to Virginia Jean and James Harper Grohl. He spent most of his childhood years in Virginia, Ohio. After his parents’ divorce at the age of 7, he took an interest in music. He enrolled in guitar lessons at the age of 12 but grew tired of the routine and decided to learn on his own instead. (Source: Drummer World)

Contrary to what most may think, he did not start his career in Nirvana. He first started touring as the drummer of Scream, and when the band broke up in the late 80s, he relocated to Seattle. (Source: Drummer World)

By 1990 Grohl joined Nirvana. But he was exclusively a drummer during this time. In an interview with CBS, he tells Anthony Mason “I didn’t like my voice, I didn’t think I was a songwriter, and I was in a band with one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. I didn’t really want to rock the boat.” (Source: CBS News)

After Kurt Cobain’s suicide, Grohl began working on music and playing for other bands. By 1995 he formed the group Foo Fighters that was composed of members from other bands too. By this time Grohl put his drumming days behind and started playing lead guitar and singing. (Source: Drummer World)

Grohl is not only a musician, he also dabbled in TV and Filmmaking. He co-hosted in a couple of shows and even appeared in episodes of The Muppets and Sesame Street. (Source: Loudwire)

He directed and produced the documentary Sound City, which premiered in the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. He also directed the eight-part docuseries; Sonic Highways that premiered on HBO in 2017. His most recent project is What Drives Us that is set to be released on April 30th of this year on Amazon Prime. (Source: Pitchfork)

Getting Personal with Dave Grohl

Grohl married Jennifer Leigh Youngbloodback in 1994. But they finalized their divorced in in 1997. He got married again in 2003 to Jordyn Blum. He and Jordyn have 3 daughters and currently live in Los Angeles, California. (Source: The Guardian)

Grohl has been very opinionated about his advocacies. He has done an anti-drug campaign with the BBC back in 2009 where he said “I have never done cocaine, ever in my life. I have never done heroin, I have never done speed.” (Source: Ultimate Classic Rock)

He is also very supportive of the LGBTQ+ community since the 90s. He has supported the White Knot campaign and has been quoted saying “I believe in love and I believe in equality and I believe in marriage equality. (Source: E! Online)

He is an advocate for gun control, especially after the DC sniper attack. He believes that the United States should be tougher with gun laws. He has grown up around guns having been from in Virginia, but he is willing to give it all up if everyone else would. (Source: Jam! Showbiz)


Like most great musicians Dave Grohl has changed the lives of many. But there’s definitely more to him than fame and fortune. He is wildly talented, that you wouldn’t even know that he can’t read music.

14 thoughts on “Can Dave Grohl Read Music?”

  1. brock_lee

    That’s the joke. “How do you get a rock guitarist to stop playing? Put the sheet music in front of him.”

  2. briantheunfazed

    This is more common than you’d think.

  3. brock_lee

    I’d bet 80+% of rock guitarists cant read music. Hell, I’ve been playing 40 years and cant read a note.

  4. Ponasity

    This is only impressive to non-musicians

  5. Brokebutfree

    my dad was a jazz musician and couldn’t read, although he tried to learn in his 40s

    I can read but I’m not 1/4 the musician he was

  6. UnpopularOpinionAlt

    He plays by hands, I can see it right in the thumbnail

  7. Decimit_

    The vast vast VAST majority of musicians can’t read music. Reading music isn’t like reading a language where you use it all the time and it’s a standard part. It’s rarely needed in most musicians lives. It is a very specific thing that you either need all the time or never and there is very very VERY little crossover.

    And most people when they say someone “plays by ear” they know little to nothing about music and are not musicians. They think that means someone can hear the song and just play it. That’s not how it works. The musician basically figures it out. You find a note or a chord, then it’s easy to tell if the next note is higher or lower. It’s easy to tell if it’s major or minor. Then it’s fairly easy to figure out the scale.

    There is also a thing called “tablature” which basically is a written format to tell you what note or chord to play and shows you how to play the song on your instrument like a guitar or bass. Yes, it’s basically reading music at that point, but it’s like the simple version. Music written in the traditional way in staffs can convey a lot more information but requires a lot more practice and knowledge to interpret.

    This headline basically describes almost every guitar player and every bass player you have ever heard of. It describes almost every musician in blues, rock, pop, country, metal, and every over modern music format. Of course there are exceptions, but they are not common. To find people that read music you need look into classical music, orchestra musicians, some jazz musicians, and some composers.

    Long story short, I’ve heard that statement so many times in my life and I guess it’s a pet peeve of mine. It means nothing, some people think it’s impressive when they know nothing about the topic, and it’s thrown around like it’s not the most common thing in the world of music.

  8. LowButton8

    I’ve played guitar for almost 20 years and have recorded professionally and I can’t.

  9. FinesseOs

    Guitar Teacher here, can read very well but:

    Yes he can’t “read”, but he certainly knows chord nomenclature and logistics, which I’d say is way more integral to the creative process- He can write/read a chord chart, he can construct forms and tune structures, he can communicate with his bandmates on terms they all understand etc. What’s he gotta read/write for within in his musical context? If he’s got a riff that other people are picked to play he could just tab it for them and likely communicate it faster that way regardless.

    Knowing how to read to any kind of high degree of skill is severely over weighted as a skill if you’re not a session musician, classical interpreter or playing tightly arranged tunes in a jazz/fusion band. Knowing a little bit is really worthwhile for theoretical understanding, having a way to represent intervals visually while you learn basic major scale theory/chord construction etc.

  10. goes2111

    Eddie Van Halen also I believe.

  11. Captain-Cadabra

    Um, that’s 90% of all pop/rock/country musicians.

    They *do* know what chords they’re playing, sometimes what key they’re playing in.

    They *don’t* know what individual notes they’re singing or playing, and very rarely read sheet music.

    Not inferior to classical/jazz musicians, just different.

  12. KittenPics

    A more intriguing topic would be rockers that CAN read sheet music.

  13. not-a-real-comment

    Same here. But I also can’t play music either.

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