Dave Grohl does not know how to read music, and plays only by ear

Dave Grohl

Grohl in July 2008

Grohl married Jennifer Leigh Youngblood, a photographer from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, in 1994 and later divorced in 1997, after separating in December 1996. On August 2, 2003, he married Jordyn Blum and they have three daughters: Violet Maye (born April 15, 2006), Harper Willow (born April 17, 2009), and Ophelia Saint (born August 1, 2014).

In 2012, Grohl was estimated to be the third wealthiest drummer in the world, behind Ringo Starr and Phil Collins, with a fortune of $260 million.

Grohl does not read music and plays only by ear.

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Grohl has been vocal in his views on drug misuse, contributing to a 2009 anti-drug video for the BBC. “I have never done cocaine, ever… Continue Reading (4 minute read)

14 thoughts on “Dave Grohl does not know how to read music, and plays only by ear”

  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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