How Many Drummers Did Nirvana Have?

December 16, 2023

How many drummers did Nirvana have?

Nirvana had 4 drummers before settling on Dave Grohl. The list includes:

  • Aaron Burckhard (1987)
  • Dale Crover (1987–1988, 1990)
  • Dave Foster (1988)
  • Chad Channing (1988–1990)

Dave Grohl – Main Nirvana Drummer

Early Life

Dave Grohl, the beating heart behind some of Nirvana’s most iconic tracks, was born on January 14, 1969, in Warren, Ohio. Raised in Virginia, Grohl’s passion for music was ignited at an early age. 

He quickly picked up the guitar, but it was the drums that truly spoke to his musical soul. Grohl was self-taught, banging away at pillows before ever getting his hands on a real drum kit.


Fast forward to 1990, Grohl joined Nirvana, marking the beginning of a transformative era in rock music. Before Nirvana, he played for the hardcore band Scream, honing his skills and crafting his unique style. 

With Nirvana, Grohl created rhythms that were the backbone of legendary albums like “Nevermind” and “In Utero.” Each beat, each thump, resonated with the raw emotion and angst that defined the grunge movement.

Post-Nirvana, Grohl didn’t miss a beat. He formed the Foo Fighters, stepping into the spotlight as the frontman, showcasing his multifaceted musical talent. The Foo Fighters became a monumental success, carving their path in the rock genre and earning multiple Grammy Awards.

Notable Performances

Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York: It’s impossible to talk about Grohl’s notable performances without mentioning this one. 

The raw, unfiltered energy, paired with a different, softer sound, showcased the depth of Grohl’s drumming abilities. This performance is etched in the memories of music lovers as one of the most iconic live shows ever.

Foo Fighters’ Wembley Stadium Concert, 2008 – Leading the Foo Fighters, Grohl showcased his ability to captivate an audience of 85,000, creating an unforgettable atmosphere. His drumming, singing, and guitar-playing demonstrated that he was more than just a drummer; he was a true rock icon.

Grohl’s numerous collaborations with other artists and bands also stand out. Whether it was playing the drums for Queens of the Stone Age or collaborating with Paul McCartney, Grohl’s versatility and passion were always front and center.

In the realm of drumming and beyond, Dave Grohl has etched his name in the annals of music history. He’s not just a drummer; he’s a musical legend who continues to inspire and electrify audiences around the world.

Notable Collaborations

Oh, where to start with Dave Grohl’s myriad of collaborations! Paul McCartney, Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails – the list is seemingly endless. Grohl’s adaptability and prowess have seen him jam with legends and newbies alike, creating musical masterpieces that span genres.

A standout moment? Playing with Paul McCartney at the 12-12-12 concert for Sandy Relief. Their performance was electrifying, showcasing Grohl’s ability to blend seamlessly with any musical style.

Awards & Accolades

Dave Grohl, ladies and gentlemen, is no stranger to the glitz and glam of awards nights! His shelf is laden with Grammys – a whopping 16 of them! 

That’s right, from Best Rock Album to Best Music Film, the man has won them all, reflecting his versatile talent and the impact he’s had on the music industry.

Let’s not forget his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Nirvana in 2014. A testament to his and the band’s revolutionary influence on the rock genre!


Navigating through Dave Grohl’s discography is like walking through a hall of rock fame. The man’s been everywhere! Starting with Nirvana, he banged the drums on the legendary album “Nevermind” and the raw and powerful “In Utero.”

Post-Nirvana, Grohl formed the Foo Fighters, blessing our ears with iconic albums like “The Colour and the Shape” and “Wasting Light.” Each record is a testament to his evolution as a musician, showcasing a range from acoustic elegance to hardcore rock anthems.

And let’s not overlook his side projects and collaborations, each adding a unique flavor to his musical portfolio. “Them Crooked Vultures,” “Probot,” and his work with Queens of the Stone Age – all must-listens for any Grohl enthusiast!

Navigating Dave’s musical journey is an exhilarating ride through the peaks of rock history, illustrating just why he is revered as a modern-day music legend.

Dave Grohl Drummer for Nirvana Drum Kit

Dave Grohl Drummer for Nirvana Drum Kit

Diving into Dave Grohl’s drum kit setup during his Nirvana days reveals his unmistakable preference for TAMA drum kits, with a configuration that remained consistent across different performances:

Drum Kits: TAMA Granstar, Granstar II, or Artstar II were his go-to choices, often paired with either a Superstar or Artwood snare drum.

  • Snare Drum: 8 x 14-inch
  • Rack Tom: 14 x 15-inch (A standout choice for its size!)
  • Floor Tom: 16 x 18-inch
  • Bass Drum: 16 x 24-inch (Shallow depth, big sound!)
  • Bass Drum Nuance: The shallower kick of the bass drum delivers a punchy tone with focused low-end resonance, a technique reminiscent of John Bonham’s iconic sound.

Cymbals & Hardware:

  • Cymbals: Exclusively Zildjian As – 22-inch ride, 18-inch crash, 20-inch crash, and 15-inch hi-hats.
  • Hardware: Primarily TAMA, with a custom Sonor hi-hat stand for the uniquely high placement of his hi-hats.
  • Drumheads: Remo drumheads for most, but the snare drum batter head boasted an Aquarian Hi-Energy snare drumhead, chosen for its durability against Dave’s heavy-hitting technique.
  • Drumsticks: Known for playing 5B and 2B drumsticks backward, adding to his unique and powerful playing style.

This setup is a testament to Grohl’s love for massive drums and his meticulous attention to every element, from the drumhead’s choice to the placement of his cymbals, all contributing to his iconic drumming sound.


Dave Grohl’s musical influences are like a journey through a diverse and passionate record collection:

  • The Beatles: Grohl’s early fascination with melody was sparked by The Beatles, teaching him how vocals and instruments intertwine to create unforgettable tunes.
  • Nirvana & Kurt Cobain: Joining Nirvana, Grohl was influenced by Cobain’s mastery of crafting melodies that were both familiar and refreshingly new, exemplified in songs like “Dumb.”
  • Eclectic Tastes: Beyond rock and grunge, Grohl embraced a variety of genres, appreciating everything from Motown and ABBA to disco.
  • Live Experiences: From seeing the Jackson 5 as a kid to headbanging at Monsters of Rock Metallica concerts, live music has left a lasting impression on him.
  • Real & Inspired Music: Across genres, Grohl gravitated towards music that felt genuine and inspired, whether it was a punk rock anthem or a timeless classic.
  • No Guilty Pleasures: Dave Grohl’s mantra? If you like it, listen to it – be it a Ke$ha song or a Beatles masterpiece.

These diverse influences illuminate Grohl’s belief in the authenticity and heartfelt essence of music, resonating in every rhythm he creates.


When we talk about style, Dave Grohl stands out. His drumming is intense yet nuanced, powerful yet controlled. He has a knack for adding texture and character to a song, making every beat count. Whether it’s the rolling thunder of a floor tom or the sharp crack of a snare, Dave’s style is unmistakable and has left a lasting imprint on the drumming community.

Personal Life

Dave Grohl, beyond his illustrious music career, leads a life that’s just as rich and fulfilling. Married to Jordyn Blum since 2003, the couple is parents to three daughters, Violet Maye, Harper Willow, and Ophelia Saint, who have been the light of their lives.

Aside from family and music, Grohl has managed to amass a significant net worth, estimated to be around $320 million, thanks to his multifaceted career as a musician, songwriter, and director.

But it’s not all about the fame and fortune for Dave. He’s known for his down-to-earth personality and passion for life, whether he’s rocking out on stage or enjoying precious moments with his family.


Why did Dave Grohl leave Nirvana? 

Dave Grohl didn’t leave Nirvana; unfortunately, the band dissolved following the tragic death of lead singer Kurt Cobain in 1994. Post-Nirvana, Grohl formed the Foo Fighters and continued to contribute significantly to the music industry.

Other Nirvana Drummers

Aaron Burckhard

The Early Days: Aaron Burckhard

Before the world came to know Nirvana as the grunge powerhouse, there was a time when they were just another band trying to find their sound. Enter Aaron Burckhard, the original drummer who laid down the beats during the band’s formative years.

Nirvana’s initial sound was raw, unpolished, and had a punk edge. Burckhard’s drumming was a significant part of that. His style was straightforward yet energetic, providing the necessary backbone for the band’s early tracks. 

While he might not have been with the band during their meteoric rise, his contribution to laying the foundation can’t be overlooked.

But every story has its twists. Differences in commitment levels and disagreements over the band’s direction led to tensions. 

Eventually, these differences culminated in Burckhard’s departure, making way for a series of drummers before the band settled with Dave Grohl. But as they say, every beat counts and Burckhard’s role in the Nirvana story is undeniable.

The Short Stint: Dale Crover

Enter Dale Crover, a name synonymous with the influential band Melvins. But before he made a lasting mark with Melvins, Crover had a brief yet impactful association with Nirvana. 

His ties with Kurt Cobain went back to their shared hometown of Aberdeen, Washington, making their collaboration almost inevitable.

Crover was the powerhouse behind them. He lent his drumming skills to Nirvana’s initial demos, including the iconic “Fecal Matter” tape. These pivotal sessions captured the raw energy and potential of what Nirvana could become.

Crover’s drumming influence was undeniable. His style, characterized by heavy hits and particularly controlled chaos, added depth to Nirvana’s sound. 

While his time with the band was brief, the intensity and passion he brought to those early recordings left an indelible mark, hinting at the grunge revolution that was about to take the world by storm.

Dave Foster

The Transitional Phase: Dave Foster

Dave Foster’s chapter with Nirvana might be brief, but it’s crucial to the band’s evolving narrative. Hailing from the same hometown as Kurt Cobain, Foster stepped into the drumming role during a transitional phase for the band, post-Crover and pre-Grohl.

Regarding key moments, Foster’s drumming can be heard in a few studio sessions and live performances. While his tenure didn’t produce any of the band’s mega-hits, these recordings capture a band in flux, searching for its iconic sound.

But, like many early Nirvana collaborations, Foster’s time was short-lived. Personal differences and a particular altercation outside a concert led to his exit. While his stint was brief, Foster’s contribution to the band’s journey during its formative years remains a noteworthy chapter in the Nirvana saga.

Chad Channing

Underrated Talent: Chad Channing

Before Dave Grohl’s iconic beats became synonymous with Nirvana, there was Chad Channing, a drummer whose influence on the band’s early sound is often overlooked. Joining the band in 1988, Channing brought a distinct style, blending punk’s raw energy with a more melodic touch.

Channing’s tenure saw the release of Nirvana’s debut album, “Bleach.” Tracks like “About a Girl” and “Love Buzz” showcased his ability to provide subtle rhythms and powerful drum breaks. His style was versatile, adapting to the band’s diverse range of tracks during this period.

However, musical differences emerged. By 1990, Channing parted ways with Nirvana, making room for the Grohl era. But for those who delve deep into Nirvana’s discography, Channing’s contributions remain essential, reminding us of the band’s evolving sound and the drummers who shaped it.

Chad Channing

The Evolving Sound: Dan Peters

Dan Peters, best known as the drummer for Mudhoney, had a fleeting yet memorable chapter with Nirvana. His association with the band might have been brief, but it was pivotal as they transitioned between drummers and sounds.

“Sliver,” a standout single, bears the hallmark of Peters’ drumming. With its catchy hooks and memorable beats, the track showcased Peters’ ability to blend with Nirvana’s evolving sound seamlessly. His contribution to this track alone cements his place in the band’s history.

But why such a short stint? As quickly as Peters joined, he was out, making way for Dave Grohl. The reasons were primarily logistical and musical direction differences. While Peters’ time with Nirvana was brief, his impact, especially through “Sliver,” remains a testament to his drumming prowess.


Who was Nirvana’s best drummer? 

It’s subjective to determine the “best” drummer, as each brought their unique style to the band. Dave Grohl is often recognized for his powerful and energetic drumming style, contributing to the band’s success. Still, all the drummers played a pivotal role at different times.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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