Dave Grohl has explained why he rejected an offer from Tom Petty to join the Heartbreakers after the success of a TV collaboration in 1994, instead pursuing his then-new Foo Fighters project.
Grohl was still struggling to deal with the recent death of Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain when he guested on drums on Saturday Night Live with Petty, performing “Honey Bee” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”
Petty followed with a phone call, Grohl recently told Howard Stern on SiriusXM. “I did Saturday Night Live with Tom Petty, and we had so much fun and we all got along so well,” Grohl said. “I was like, ‘Wait, why would it be me?’ … He could get like a world-class drummer, like any dude.” He described Petty as “very cool, low-key and down-to-Earth.”
Asked if he took the invitation to join the Heartbreakers seriously, Grohl said: “Yeah. We played SNL and afterwards, basically, he was like: ‘Man, that was good. It would be a shame if that’s the only time we do it.’ Then he called me at home, and he’s like, ‘Well, look, if you want, here’s how we’d do it: You get your own bus. We don’t tour too hard. … If you’re into it, let’s go out and do it for a little while.'”
There were at least two reasons to refuse. “I’d just started doing this thing,” Grohl said, referring to Foo Fighters. “And I just felt weird about going back just to the drums, because it would just have reminded me of being back in Nirvana. It would have been sad, for me personally. It would have been an emotional thing to be behind the drums every night and not have Kurt there. So I was like, ‘Nah, fuck it. I’m going to try this other thing.”
Grohl earlier refuted the suggestion that he was also invited to join Pearl Jam after Nirvana collapsed: “I don’t know where the Pearl Jam thing came from,” he said. “I knew those guys, but they never called and asked me to play drums with them. I jammed with them once on stage in like Australia or something like that – but no, they didn’t call.”
Dave Grohl on His Heartbreakers Invitation