Helltrout (Dave Foster)
Foster played with Nirvana for a very brief period in 1988 and never entered the studio with the band. And were it not for Kurt Cobain’s unsent letter to drummer Dave Foster appearing in his book, Journals, most people would be completely unaware that he ever drummed for Nirvana.
According to Cobain, Foster’s “cultural background” differed too much from his and Novoselic’s; plus, because of the fact that he lived in Aberdeen, Washington — hours from the band, who were then rehearsing in Tacoma — frequently missed practice, and had a temper that landed him in trouble with the law on multiple occasions, he simply did not fit in with Nirvana.
Despite his differences from the rest of the band, Foster’s drumming was praised by Cobain. On March 18, 1988, he played with the band during the very first show at which they billed themselves as “Nirvana,” which you can listen to here. And since his days with the band, he has played with Suckerpunch, Psycho Samaritan, and Helltrout.
Shrinebuilder (Dale Crover)
The longtime drummer of the Melvins played on numerous occasions with Cobain. In 1985, prior to Nirvana, Cobain and Dale Crover recorded Illiteracy Will Prevail, the demo tape of their short-lived punk rock band Fecal Matter, which existed until 1986.
Later, despite his commitment to the Melvins, Crover would have two separate stints in Nirvana. First, in 1988, Crover filled in on drums following the end of Aaron Burckhard’s tenure with the band. He can be heard on Nirvana’s first-ever studio demo recordings from January 23, 1988 (tracks from this 10-song session appear on Bleach, Incesticide, and With the Lights Out). He left shortly thereafter, recommending Dave Foster as his replacement.
In August 1990, after Chad Channing had left the band (but during a time when Dan Peters was not available), Crover once again filled in on drums while Nirvana toured the West Coast with Sonic Youth. Peters would play a single show with Nirvana in September, and then Dave Grohl would step in as the permanent — and final — drummer.
But Crover’s musical output goes beyond the Melvins and Nirvana. Since 2008, Crover has drummed for the metal supergroup Shrinebuilder, playing alongside Al Cisneros, Scott Kelly, and Scott “Wino” Weinrich. Shrinebuilder released their self-titled debut album in 2009.
“Pyramid of the Moon”
Before Cars (Chad Channing)
Chad Channing’s current band is Before Cars, with whom he has been playing since 2008 — but instead of drumming, he plays bass and guitar and provides vocals. I’m also fairly certain the guy doesn’t age — he looks like he stepped out of a 1990 Nirvana promo photo. Check out this 2014 interview with the band.
Before Cars released their latest full-length album, How We Run, in 2013, and released a single, “Fin,” in March of 2014.
“Trip to Mars”
Earth (Lori Goldston)
You probably remember Lori Goldston as the cellist who performed with Nirvana during their 1993 MTV Unplugged session. However, she actually served as a touring member with the group from 1993 into 1994.
Goldston has played with a ton of bands and musicians, including David Byrne of Talking Heads, Parenthetical Girls, The Dead Science, the Black Cat Orchestra, and Spectratone International. In 2011 and 2012 she appeared on the albums Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I and II by Earth, fronted by Kurt Cobain’s friend Dylan Carlson.
“Sigil of Brass”
Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie (Big John Duncan)
“Big John” Duncan is most famous for being the guitarist of The Exploited from 1980 to 1983. He also served as a tour technician for Nirvana from 1992 to 1993, and joined the band onstage as a second guitarist on numerous occasions.
Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie is the only band on this list with which a Nirvana member or touring musician performed prior to playing with Nirvana. However, Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie is notable largely due to the fact that they included Shirley Manson, who would later become the front woman of Garbage (whose drummer Butch Vig produced Nirvana’s Nevermind).
Foo Fighters (Dave Grohl, Pat Smear)
What started as a one-man project for Dave Grohl has become a band that has now been around for two decades and counting. During that time, Grohl has evolved into one of rock music’s most iconic front men, while Foo Fighters have released seven studio albums, two compilations, a live recording, and nearly 40 music videos. They have picked up four Grammy Awards for “Best Rock Album,” and have sold more than 10 million albums in the United States alone.
Nirvana’s final second guitarist, touring member Pat Smear, played with Foo Fighters from 1995 to 1997, and then rejoined the band in 2006. In 2012, Smear, Grohl, and Novoselic joined former Beatle Paul McCartney in 2012 to record “Cut Me Some Slack” and play several live performances.
Live performance of “This Is a Call”