Dave Grohl’s mum teaches you how to raise a rockstar
‘Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys’
So goes the old country song, but what’s a mum to do when their baby tells them they’re dropping out of school to become a rockstar?
And how can you rock-a-bye baby into a rock god or goddess?
We are all indebted to the women who have given us life. For without them, there would be no music.Dave Grohl — From Cradle To Stage
It’s a question Virginia Hanlon Grohl, school teacher and single mum to modern rock legend Dave Grohl (whom she lovingly still calls “David” throughout), asked herself as she watched her talented, “goofy, sweet, forgetful, charismatic” son achieve unimaginable fame and fortune with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters.
For all the parenting books modern mums and dads have to plough through today, there’s none for how to raise a child who achieves even more than their own wildest teenage dreams.
So the resourceful, wise, sweet Ms Grohl – in whom you can see her equally lovely son, both physically and temperamentally – decided to ask those who knew best: the mums of some of the most famous musos in the world, from Michael Stipe’s mother Marianne to Dr Carolyn Williams, Pharrell’s mum.
There are stories from Mike D’s art-loving mother who “didn’t understand music at all”; “Hurricane Amy” Winehouse’s mum, Janis, overcoming her own loveless childhood as she tried to help her brilliant daughter overcome her tragic struggles; and Donna Haim on suddenly becoming an empty nester when all three of her girls toured on the back of their breakout 2013 album Days Are Gone.
Even some of the stars jump in, with Dr Dre belying his gangsta rap rep with tender stories of his appreciation for his mother’s love, support, strength and creativity. Dave Grohl also writes an affectionately generous foreword.
It’s interspersed with vignettes by Ms Grohl, from “the conversation” with her teenage son about wanting to drop out to go on tour with seminal DC punk band Scream. “I was pretty sure they’d never replace the Beatles,” she writes.
She tells us about her own musical aspirations and teen bands. And she shares lots of PG-rated stories from the road, like finding herself glammed up at the Grammys or seeing her son play at the White House with Paul McCartney, standing next to Barack Obama.
The best part of many music bios is the first third. Your hero or heroine struggles with the same things that made your teen years so fraught. The same things that made their music connect so powerfully to you then – your fears and doubts, your heartbreaks and hunger.
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If you love to pore over those early days, looking for the moment that made them or changed their life, then this is the mother lode, from the people who once knew them even better than they did.
From Cradle to Stage is filled with adorable (and sometimes amusingly awkward) family photos – the best are Mike D in equestrian dress, Dr Dre and mum at Christmas, and Tom Morello’s elderly mum raising a fist at a protest – affectionate and enlightening reminisces and anecdotes, and bursting with cockles-warming maternal pride.
And best of all, Ms Grohl offers her own well-earned tips as a teacher and rockstar mum for raising kids who march – or dance – to the beat of their own drum, including channelling their energy into what they love, helping them find it rather than forcing your own expectations onto them, and always being there.
As she points out, “none of this will guarantee you’ll raise a rock star, just a more fulfilled human being.”
But as “David” acknowledges in his foreword, “we are all indebted to the women who have given us life. For without them, there would be no music.”
From Cradle To Stage is out now.