Foo Fighters' guitarist Pat Smear made it official last night; he's leaving the band.
Smear, who played with Foo leader Dave Grohl in Nirvana toward the end of that legendary band's career, announced that he was quitting the group on live TV, during the warm-up show for last night's MTV Video Music Awards in New York. The band performed "Monkey Wrench" atop the Radio City Music Hall marquee, and when they returned for a second song, "Everlong," Smear dropped the bomb. "The last song we played was my last song with the band," Smear said casually. "I would like to introduce you to Franz Stahl, who will be taking over. Thank you." A smiling Smear then quietly made his way across the stage and the band got to work. Stahl, who played with Grohl in his pre-Nirvana band, Scream, did an admirable, if workman-like job in his new role. For his part, Grohl seemed non-plussed, if a little annoyed, as he spat the lyrics to the song out.
Ironically, in the new nightmare-like video for "Everlong," hero Grohl is constantly battling an evil-looking Smear, repeatedly smacking him with an over-sized hand as Smear tries to harm Grohl's video girlfriend, new drummer Taylor Hawkins (Alanis Morissette) in a blond wig. Hawkins replaced former drummer, William Goldsmith (Sunny Day Real
Estate) earlier this year. Smear made no mention of the leave-taking less than an hour later when he presented an award with friend and fashion hound, Cindy Crawford.
In a statement released just prior to the awards show, Smear wrote, "Although I am leaving the Foo Fighters, making music is my passion and I am really excited to begin new projects of my own, musical and otherwise. I truly appreciate everyone's kindness and support. I look forward to sharing more with you in the future."
Smear, Grohl and Krist Novoselic, the surviving members of mega-rockers Nirvana, reunited last Saturday at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival, where they played a couple of covers for the thousands in attendance.
For his part, Stahl, who started the Washington, D.C.-based hardcore band Scream with his brother Pete Stahl in the mid-'80s, later joined by Grohl on drums, said, "Ultimately, it's great to be back playing with Dave. Being friends again in a musical sense. I think my brightest moments playing music were with Dave. I saw when Taylor joined the Foo Fighters, there was a spark, an infusion of energy that reminded me of the time Dave came over to the basement to audition for Scream."
The Foo Fighters camp had been aggressively fighting Smear's departure rumors since just after Goldsmith's exit. Denials of the apparently done-deal continued up until just last week, when rumors surfaced that the guitarist's performances on the most recent leg of the band's tour to promote their second album, The Colour and the Shape, would be his last. [Fri., Sept. 5, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]