Dave Grohl delivered the keynote speech at SXSW in Austin on Thursday, an address he called "without a doubt, my musical life's greatest honor." During his speech, Grohl covered everything from his early exposure to the 1980s Washington D.C. punk scene to his rise to rock stardom in Nirvana and then rebirth with Foo Fighters. He even used an acoustic guitar and a pair of old cassette recorders to demonstrate how he made his first one-man-band bedroom recordings as a child, and he delved into the experience of directing his recent documentary, Sound City. But most of all, Grohl's speech was about how "the musician comes first."
"There is no right or wrong – there is only your voice," Grohl told the attendees, according to a Billboard recap. "Your voice screaming through an old Neve 8028 recording console, your voice singing through a laptop, your voice echoing from a street corner – it doesn't matter. What matters most is that it's YOUR voice. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it's f***ing gone… Who knows how long it will last. It's there if you want it."
Grohl spoke of Nirvana's rise to fame and the "guilt" the group felt with its success. He also got emotional in sharing how he couldn't bear the thought of playing music in the wake of Kurt Cobain's suicide, but ultimately, the 14-day solo recording session that became the first Foo Fighters album was a healing process for him.
"I was writing songs about starting over," Grohl said. Essentially, he encouraged artists to "remember that simple reward of just playing music. You are still and will always be that person at your core, the musician and the musician comes first."
Later on Thursday night, Grohl also played an epic, three-hour and 20-minute set with the Sound City Players. The show featured Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty, Rick Springfield and more, backed by a house band made up mostly of Foo Fighters. Nicks was on hand to perform the new song "You Can't Fix This," as well as more familiar fare from her solo catalog and Fleetwood Mac's. Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk laid down the rhythm for "She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress On)" and "Time Slowing Down," and Springfield played a string of catchy hits, including "I've Done Everything for You" and "Jessie's Girl."
Later, Grohl switched to drums as Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear came onstage, along with Slipknot singer CoreyTaylor and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen, for a mini-set of hits such as "Surrender." Finally, Fogerty came out to end the night with a quick spin through some Creedence Clearwater Revival songs such as "Born on a Bayou," "Bad Moon Rising" and "Proud Mary" before ending the show with an energetic version of "Fortunate Son."