When Kurt Cobain took his own life and ended Nirvana at the barrel of a shotgun in 1994, it was assumed that drummer Dave Grohl, one of the best musicians in the grunge scene, would find a new gig, basically, wherever he wanted.
He turned down a full-time offer from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers after touring with them and was rumored to be in line for the open Pearl Jam gig. instead, he reverted to his original instrument, guitar, and formed Foo Fighters with two former members of Sunny Day Real Estate — bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith — and Nirvana hired hand, guitarist Pat Smear.
From the first single, “This is a Call,” in 1995, we knew he could scream with the best of them and that maybe being behind Cobain all that time rubbed off on him. everyone was rooting for the Foo Fighters, even if it seemed like a one-shot deal.
Where: Consol Energy Center, Downtown
Tickets: $29.50-$49.50. 1-800-745-3000
But then, with the second album, “The Colour and the Shape,” the songs got better and more assured, particularly “My Hero” and “Everlong.” Mr. Grohl continued to pour that passion into songs like “Learn to Fly” and “All My Life” and now, 16 years and seven albums in, he’s one of rock’s most formidable frontmen. On the last tour, for “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace,” he pulled off a two-hour-plus show with Springsteen-like charisma.
The Foo Fighters return Friday, on tour with “Wasting Light,” for their first show at the Consol Energy Center.
With that in mind, here are the 20 most notable spinoffs, defined as one or two members of a prominent group forming another prominent group. We’re setting aside supergroups (CSNY) and solo groups (Neil Young and Crazy Horse).
• Led Zeppelin (1968): the band originally toured in late 1968 as the new Yardbirds, before getting the cease and desist, so it would be hard to not consider them a spinoff. Jimmy Page was the Yardbird and when his plans for a supergroup with Jeff Beck and the Who’s rhythm section fell through, he was stuck with a bunch of relative no-names who did all right for themselves.
• Parliament-Funkadelic (1968)/Bootsy’s Rubber Band (1976): the ’70s were a lot funkier thanks to George Clinton, who updated his ’50s doo-wop group the Parliaments into the R&B/funk ensemble Parliament and spun off a psych-rock group Funkadelic. they existed separately or as one extended family, producing such songs as “One Nation Under a Groove” and “Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker).” With Clinton’s blessing, Bootsy Collins did his own thing in the late ’70s with Bootsy’s Rubber Band, charting the R&B hit “Bootzilla.”
• little Feat (1969): Reasons vary for why singer Lowell George got booted from the Mothers of Invention — either Frank Zappa thought George would be better on his own or it was because George wrote “a song about dope” with “Willin.’ ” whatever the case, he grabbed Mothers bassist Roy Estrada and ringers like bill Payne to create this Southern funk dynamo.
• Electric Light Orchestra (1970): the move was a part of the British Invasion that never invaded the States. the impact wasn’t felt here until frontman Roy Wood, Bev Bevan and latecomer Jeff Lynne spun off to form ELO, with the idea of picking up where the Beatles left off. when Mr. Wood split after the band’s 1971 debut, Mr. Lynne took the reins and powered ELO through 19 top 20 hits and sales of more than 50 million albums.
• Wings (1971): Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles career is a bit muddled, title wise, but the idea was that Wings was a band not just his backup. Wings debuted in 1971 with “Wild Life,” with Paul and wife Linda joined by drummer Denny Seiwell and ex-Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine. when it didn’t fare well, the second and third albums, “Red Rose Speedway” and “Band on the run,” were labeled Paul McCartney & Wings. With “Venus and Mars” in 1975, it was back to just Wings, and on the tour, multiple members of the band were singing lead.
• Journey (1973): Guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Gregg Rolie split off from Santana in 1973 to form a jazz fusion group. when that didn’t go so well, they went looking for singers, eventually finding the right guy in golden-voiced Steve Perry for their fourth album, “Infinity.” “Don’t stop Believin’,” one of many hits, has become a “Glee” standard and standard-rock anthem, elevating it to the most downloaded catalog track in iTunes history.
• Jefferson Starship (1974)/Hot Tuna (1969): when the engine died on Jefferson Airplane around 1973, its bluesy core of guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady dove deeper into its side project, Hot Tuna. Meanwhile, the frontline of Grace Slick and Paul Kantner (with Marty Balin) attempted a sonic upgrade with Jefferson Starship, which had some great moments (“Red Octopus”) and at least one of rock’s most lamentable (“We Built This City”).
• Public Image ltd. (1978): Contrary to the Neil Young lyric, Johnny Rotten didn’t burn out after the Sex Pistols ditched him in San Francisco. He reverted to his birth name, John Lydon, and reinvented himself in this dark, dissonant and innovative art-punk band.
• new Order (1980): Ian Curtis hanged himself on the eve of Joy Division’s American tour, leaving the British post-punk band shocked, sad and singer-less. Although not the most charismatic individual, guitarist Bernard Sumner made an impressive shift to frontman, leading the band in a more danceable and accessible direction with songs like “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle.”
• Tom Tom Club (1981): when David Byrne started working with other musicians around the time of “Remain in Light,” the husband-wife rhythm section of Chris Frantz and Tiny Weymouth got a little frustrated and headed for the Bahamas to start a project that allowed them to toy with hip-hop and hit the dance clubs. upon the breakup of Talking Heads, it went from side project to full-on spinoff group.
• Megadeth (1983): things combusted so quickly with Dave Mustaine, he was out of Metallica before the band even recorded its debut album, on which he has a few writing credits. He formed Megadeth that same year, 1983, determined to be faster and heavier than his former band. Metallica still has the upper hand, but Megadeth, with its turbulence and constant personnel changes, has sold more than 30 million albums and is considered one of the big Four thrash bands (with Slayer and Anthrax).
• big Audio Dynamite (1984): they revolutionized rock ‘n’ roll with the Clash in the late ’70s, but by 1983 Joe Strummer and Mick Jones were clashing on everything, especially musical direction. upon being fired, Mr. Jones took his knack for incorporating hip-hop, reggae and samples to B.A.D., which made a pair of fun, funky albums before running out of steam in the late ’80s.
• Fine Young Cannibals/General Public (1984): when Britain’s leading ska band, the English Beat, split in two in 1983, General Public had the edge with frontmen Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger. instead, bassist David Steele and guitarist Andy Cox made the more lasting contribution by discovering soul prodigy Roland Gift and churning out a no. 1 hit with “She Drives me Crazy.” unfortunately, the Cannibals ended up not liking each other and split in 1992. Mr. Gift’s absence from the scene is something of a mystery.
• Fugazi (1987): Minor Threat was the flagship band of the Washington, D.C., hardcore scene in the early ’80s, establishing the straight-edge movement. Four years after its demise, intensely serious frontman Ian MacKaye formed Fugazi, expanding on the sound with elements of reggae and funk, and influences ranging from Gang of Four to Led Zeppelin. Despite lots of offers, the band has been inactive since 2003.
• Pearl Jam (1989): Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were on the path to success with Mother Love Bone when singer Andrew Wood died of a heroin overdose. they picked up the pieces by finding a singer from San Diego named Eddie Vedder who worked in a gas station. You know the rest.
• Rancid (1991): Childhood friends Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman spent three years melding hardcore and ska into ska-core in the Berkeley, Calif., band Operation Ivy. when it split in 1989 — “Too much attention unavoidably destroyed us,” Armstrong would later sing — they formed the still-active Rancid, a big player in the early ’90s punk revival.
• Wilco/Son Volt (1994): the bad news about Uncle Tupelo’s breakup in 1994 is that we said goodbye to the premier alt-country band. the good news is that now we had two bands — one led by Jeff Tweedy and one by Jay Farrar — putting out good material. Wilco, the underdog in this race, turned out to be the more innovative and enduring of the pair.
• Foo Fighters (1994): Phil Collins … Don Henley … Dave Grohl. Wildly different styles, same idea.
• Queens of the Stone Age (1997): upon the demise of Palm Desert, Calif., stoner rock band Kyuss in 1995, its big jock guitarist Josh Homme joined Screaming Trees for a stint before taking his trippy desert vibe to QOTSA two years later. the heavy, warped sound of “Rated R” and “Songs for the Deaf” have been hugely influential on the alt-rock scene. Mr. Homme can also be found in Eagles of Death Metal and supergroup them crooked Vultures.
• Raconteurs (2005)/Dead Weather (2009): Along with being one of the more gifted musicians to come along in the ’90s, Jack White is one of the more restless creative spirits. Before the White Stripes called it quits in February, he was a member of three different bands. the Raconteurs, with Brendan Benson, is more of a straight-up heavy blues-rock band, while recent supergroup Dead Weather puts kills singer Alison Mosshart out front with Mr. White on drums.
Other notable spinoffs: Atlas Sound (Deerhunter), Boxcar Racer/+44/Angels and Airwaves (Blink-182), the Breeders (Pixies), Cracker (Camper Van Beethoven), Crowded House (Split Enz), the Flying Burrito Brothers (Byrds), Gorillaz (Blur), the Hold Steady (Lifter Puller), Love & Rockets (Bauhaus), the minus five (Young Fresh Fellows), the Knitters (X), Postal Service (Death Cab for Cutie), Ratdog (Grateful Dead), Sebadoh (Dinosaur Jr), Style Council (The Jam), Sugar (Husker Du), Sunset Rubdown (Wolf Parade).
Supergroups that don’t count: Asia, Audioslave, Chickenfoot, Cream, CSNY, Derek and the Dominos, the Firm, the new Barbarians, A Perfect Circle, Shriekback, Superheavy, them crooked Vultures, Tinted Windows, Traveling Wilburys, Velvet Revolver, Wild Flag.
first published on September 22, 2011 at 12:00 am