Ringo Starr and Dave Grohl joined forces for an intimate new “Musicians on Musicians” interview with Rolling Stone where they both touched on mourning bandmates John Lennon, George Harrison and Kurt Cobain.
“When John went, I was in the Bahamas,” said Starr. “I was getting a phone call from my stepkids in L.A. saying, ‘Something’s happened to John.’ And then they called and said, ‘John’s dead.’ And I didn’t know what to do. And I still well up that some bastard shot him. But I just said, ‘We’ve got to get a plane.’ We got a plane to New York, and you don’t know what you can do. We went to the apartment. ‘Anything we can do?’ And Yoko just said, ‘Well, you just play with Sean. Keep Sean busy.’ And that’s what we did. That’s what you think: ‘What do you do now?’…The four of us were great friends with a couple of side issues. And it was far out. So anyway, I didn’t know how to act. And then I got back to L.A., and I grieved, and then of course you always go through the grief.”
When Harrison died from cancer in 2001, Starr said about visiting him for the final time, “He’s laying there very ill — not long. And I’ve got to go to Boston, ’cause my daughter’s having an operation. And so I said, ‘Well, you know, I’ve got to go, George,’ and he says, ‘Do you want me to come with you?’ You know, he’s dying in a bit: ‘Do you want me to come with you?’ How many people say great things like that to you, really give themselves?”
Grohl reflected on when Cobain died saying, “Well, I realized when Kurt died that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. It takes funny turns. You’ll be numb. You’ll remember the good things, then you’ll turn and remember some dark times.”
Grohl continued, “I stayed away from music for a while. I wouldn’t even turn on the radio. And then I eventually realized that music was the one thing that actually made me feel better. And music was gonna help me through that. So I started writing songs and recording them by myself. And it’s also difficult when one of your friends or someone that you’re very close to, in real life, has become something more than a human being to others. So you sit in an interview and someone asks you these questions that are really emotional, that you’d never ask another stranger.”
Grohl also touched on how rare it is for him to play Nirvana songs since Cobain’s death saying, “I haven’t played those Nirvana songs more than a few times in the last 26 years. In some ways, they’re off-limits, unfortunately. There have been a few times — at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, at a show maybe two years ago — that we got to play them. And it’s a funny feeling, because it feels like you’re back together with your friends from the band, but there’s just something missing.”