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This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl Hardcover – November 29, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Q, January 2012

"Brannigan draws on his own interviews with Grohl, among others, to plot a compelling journey that begins in Washington's punk clubs with Grohl's group Scream living with female mud-wrestlers, before exploring the chaos that was Nirvana, and ending with Foo Fighters headlining stadia. A big-hearted, fascinating read."

Litreactor.com 12/13/11

"Impeccably-researched, thoroughly entertaining, and packed with rich new insights, This is a Call will enjoy a place among the absolute best music biographies of the past twenty years"

Buffalo News, 9/23/11
“Getty Images Offers a thorough—if unauthorized—biography touching on all aspects of Grohl’s career, and paints a fully detailed portrait of the man. Brannigan’s knowledge of his subject is encyclopedic, based on his own interviews, and worth celebrating simply for the manner in which he is able to place Grohl’s work in the context of post-punk history.”

Booklist, 11/1/11
“Brannigan not only offers a penetrating portrait of Grohl the man but also presents an indelible portrait of the American underground-rock scene.”
Kirkus Reviews, 11/15/11
“Brannigan salutes a musician who’s surfaced, prosperous and sane, from the perils of an extended punk-rock adolescence that not all of his friends survived. Reverent and informative.”

Alternative Press, December 2011
“[A] well-researched bio…A fascinating read, This Is a Call doesn’t skimp on entertaining anecdotes, juicy gossip or evidence of Grohl’s immense songwriting talent.” 

Mojo, December 2011
“Grohl and his groups [are] dissected with gumption.”

New York Daily News, 10/28/11
The leader of the Foo Fighters comes off as music’s most affable man, but it turns out there’s more turmoil in the ranks than it seems.”

Q Magazine, January 2011
“Quite an achievement…Brannigan draws on his own interviews with Grohl, among others, to plot a compelling journey…A big-hearted, fascinating read.”
Loudwire.com, 11/30/11
“There is a lot to like about this book in which Brannigan gives us a real insider’s view of Grohl and his rise to the top…The stories are interesting in that they show Grohl as not just a rock hero but as a huge admirer of music who basically just wanted to join the scene that moved him so. There are also more than a share of personal stories that humanize Grohl and his various band mates exposing their vulnerabilities perhaps more than ever before.”
NeonTommy.com, 11/30/11
“[Brannigan] manages to paint a picture of the musical atmosphere that tracks Grohl’s beginnings in punk, through his place in grunge history with Nirvana and up to the Foo’s latest album, ‘Wasted Light.’ The book is filled with vivid details of the different worlds while following Grohl’s growing influence on them…Brannigan throws color into moments and sets musical scenes that you can actually hear…Brannigan knows exactly where to put in a quote and when to use his own knowledge and criticism to push the story forward. His writing has the rhythms and attitudes of the music he describes…A book worth reading for its scope as a series of snapshots of a legendary musical journey.”
New York Journal of Books, 11/29/11
“Brannigan’s biography of musician Dave Grohl and his era, reaches ambitiously out of bounds for the conventional pop bio, cradling its subject in layers of context, political and social history…Brannigan’s excellent segues, characterizations, and lyrical zip ensure This Is a Call occasionally tips but never topples under its own weight. The result is an educational and highly entertaining read…Brannigan loops a fascinating narrative around a compelling and likeable character…This is high quality, street cred music journalism, artfully meshed with undoubted musicological and cultural history grunt.”
New Music Michael, 12/6/11
“Brannigan’s book is an exceptional companion piece to the documentary, though certainly has the ability to stand alone as an extraordinary work of the history of Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters, and Nirvana, as well as a host of other local scenes and the music world in general…Most of us already know a lot of the stories that go along with Nirvana, but certainly not to the extent, and not to the depth that Brannigan covers…if you’re a fan of Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters, Nirvana, punk music, hell just music in general, you’ll want to get this book for yourself and dogear the pages.”
Publishers Weekly, 12/12/11
“[An] engaging and insightful bio…Brannigan puts Grohl's influences, inspirations, and early musical career into context…Those who want to get a better understanding of the musician will find this an entertaining and perhaps educational read.”
Gibson.com, 12/12/11
“Some rock biographies stand tall above others, revealing much more than a straight chronology of recording and touring. This is a Call is one such book…It draws on a decade of frank interviews with Dave Grohl and friends, and is peppered with fascinating nuggets about Grohl’s own thoughts on his ascent to megastardom. From Grohl being the “goofy” hardcore drummer with Scream, through stardom behind the drumkit with the troubled Nirvana, to his blossoming as the guitar-toting frontman of Foo Fighters, This is a Call tells Grohl’s story with style and candor…One of the definitive rock books of 2011.”
San Francisco Book Review, December 2011
“Brannigan’s knowledge of the underground punk scene fills out this Dave Grohl biography. He essentially traces the evolution from the Sex Pistols to Nirvana, via Washington D.C., to create an entertaining retelling of the history of hardcore punk.”
LitReactor.com, 12/13/11
“The first serious attempt to place Grohl and his body of work in the context of rock history…A thoughtful and entertaining rock biography that easily stands among classics by the likes of Mick Wall, Nick Kent, and Neil Strauss…Brannigan, ever the rock journalist, goes far beyond simply telling stories—he prefaces the key periods of the book with engaging essays on how various musical movements grew, what the attitudes were that informed those movements and how they fit into the rock and roll landscape…Impeccably-researched, thoroughly entertaining, and packed with rich new insights, This is a Call will enjoy a place among the absolute best music biographies of the past twenty years.”
The Music Mamas, 12/6/11
“A must-read for music fans.”
Calgary Herald, 12/13/11
“A well-told testament to a true believer’s perseverance.”
Blurt Online, 12/22/11
“Offers both a journalistic and fan perspective on the Nirvana/Foo Fighters icon, along with a keen eye for detail and context…While This is a Call is clearly about Grohl, Brannigan does a commendable job of putting everything into context beginning with quite possibly the best written documentary of the D.C. punk and hardcore scene Grohl was raised in…[A] well-researched, passionately written book by an author who is a clearly an unabashed fan, but still objective enough to give an unvarnished look at a great band that has struggled through some rough waters at times but ultimately righted the ship.”
Record Collector, January 2012
“Dave Grohl’s tale covers so many bases after 30 or so years in the business that it takes a biographer of consummate skill to get it all down on paper without missing anything out. Fortunately, ex-Kerrang! editor Paul Brannigan has what it takes…What lingers most is the expert way in which so many disparate slices of history are interlaced. After reading This Is a Call, you’ll know much more than you did before about the way that US hardcore merged into Seattle grunge, and how rock shed its skin in the 90s…It’s info such as that which makes this book essential.”
Bookviews blog, January 2012
“The ups and downs of Grohl’s life will no doubt be of interest to rock fans…The biography is quite a ride.”
InfoDad.com, 1/5/12
“Fans of Grohl’s work, up to and including his appearances with Them Crooked Vultures, will get plenty of name-dropping and behind-the-scenes insights from a writer who has known Grohl since 1997 and does a good job of pulling together many sorts of musical and personal minutiae…Brannigan delivers a nicely written biographical sketch of Grohl.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 12/17/11
“Brannigan…scored amazing access to his subject and the people with whom Grohl worked…Brannigan explores Grohl's early punk influences in great detail and the meteoric rise of Nirvana, offering a frightening insight into the music industry…Grohl's road to success post-Nirvana is an inspiring, honest story.”
New York Times Book Review, 1/22/12
“A rich history of recent pop music as it moves from punk and hard-core to ­grunge to indie bands…Students of that period will find much to dwell on here.”
AOL Noisecreep, 2/13/12
“The book vividly recounts Grohl's incredible, one-of-a-kind rock 'n' roll journey.”
“As a summation of Grohl’s career to date, This Is A Call is packed with information; the extens...

About the Author

The former editor of Kerrang! magazine, Paul Brannigan is a respected authority on the punk scene in Washington, DC, where Dave Grohl cut his teeth. He has written about Grohl for Mojo and Q magazines and lives in London.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (November 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306819562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306819568
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #835,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me start by saying that I am a huge Dave Grohl fan, so I am very biased. Also, I prefer autobiographies much more than biographies and many of my criticisms center around the fact that the book would be much better if it was written by Dave himself, I know that's not quite fair, but I think that the author could have done a better job (hence only 3 stars).

The first few chapters on Dave's early life (up to about page 120) were dull and lacked coherence. The author seemed more interested in name dropping other bands in the "underground DC punk scene" than talking about Grohl's life. I didn't buy the book to hear about how good other underground punk bands were during this time. I understand that they were a major influence on him, but just say that, no need to go into exhaustive detail in naming each band and the front-man/guitarist/drummer etc.I wish he would have talked more about Grohl's early life.

The book really comes to life when Grohl joins Nirvana. The author dedicates quite a large portion of the book to this part of his life, even though Grohl's stint as the drummer only lasted a few years. I didn't mind this, however, since Nirvana was such a great band and I enjoyed learning more about them.

The majority of Grohl's musical career has been during his time as the Foo Fighter's front man (16 years and counting) and yet this is only about a third of the book. The author decided to just sum up most of what was done in the Foo Fighters in short, sometimes bland, paragraphs. Despite this, I greatly enjoyed learning more about this time and I look forward to Grohl eventually writing and autobiography.

All in all I am happy that i read it, just because I am such a huge Dave Grohl fan, but it does leave something more to be desired.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Three days ago I bought "This is a call.." and for the first time in a very long time I found it hard to put my book back down. I didn`t buy it because I`m a dedicated follower of Grohl (although I do love his music) but simply because I had been reading a lot of classic literature and I needed something contemporary for a change. I never read many biographies, so I didn`t quite know what to expect, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

While reading the first few chapters, when we're getting to know the young Dave and the musical era he grew up in, I felt like I was getting a very detailed, yet never boring lesson into punk rock history. Not only learning about the music that inspired him, but also about the various bands he was a part of and the way his passion for music kept growing. Very interesting for me (since I wasn`t even born back then) to get an idea of what times were like in the 70s and 80s (music wise).
Equally interesting is it to read about this passionate young guy who has no idea what lies in store for him as he joins Nirvana. I can`t even imagine what a whirlwind it must have been!
Brannigan spends ample amount of time on Grohl`s band mates as well, which in my opinion ads more dept to the book.

After reading this book and having seen put together all the work that Grohl has created, you can`t be anything else but impressed. I found it really inspiring to read about a person who is so talented and dedicated to follow his dreams and stay positive and down to earth at the same time.

What I enjoyed the most though, was listening to (a lot of) the songs mentioned in the book while reading. I thoroughly enjoyed listening again to those songs I already knew and loved (but now with more context to place them in) and of course also listening to the songs I didn`t know before.
In the end, it`s all about the music.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree with another reviewer's three-star rating of this book. While well written and researched, I really wish that the book contained more of an inside peek into Grohl's motivations. Also, as previously pointed out, the book starts out slowly and tends to gloss over the last five years of Foo Fighters' history.

I agree that Nirvana is an important band and I enjoyed learning more about Grohl's role in it. Still, Grohl has spent more than five times as long in FF as he did in Nirvana. I feel as if the emphasis of the book should have been less about Grohl's environs and more about the man himself.

This is an interesting read and I blew threw it in four days. It's just that a book with this title should primarily focus on the man, not on the DC punk scene and the inner workings of Nirvana, a band whose history has been well documented in other books.
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Format: Hardcover
I could not agree more with Whynotzoidberg's review--If I wanted to read a book about Black Flag, the Sex Pistols, or the countless other bands from the 70s and 80s the book namechecks in the first hundred-plus pages, I would. With so many irrellavent details (Cobain's girlfriends, origins of random bands Dave never played in), I feel like the author is trying to impress readers with his music knowledge rather than talk about Dave. Which is fine, with a differnt title and book jacket.

First half of the book gets zero stars, second half is far superior--I would almost recommend just skipping to page 146 to start the book. Not surprised this book is unauthorized, despite the author's frequent mention of time spent with Dave.
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