In describing how he came up with his shock-and-roll performance persona, Alice Cooper says that in surveying the late 1960s landscape of “rock heroes,” he just wanted to be the first blood-guts-and-madness “rock villain.”
Off-stage, Alice is renowned as one of the friendliest, most open, and caring individuals you could ever hope to meet.
That’s one pleasant and positive case, then, of an artist whose private life is almost the exact opposite of what he puts on under the spotlight. We’ve certainly all heard of superstar loudmouths who go the other way: they talk a good game about peace, love, and understanding, and then abuse everyone around them like angry, spoiled, egomaniacal Roman emperors.
In the case of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl, though, their “genuinely great guy” images get continually backed up by kindness, generosity, and expressions of appreciation for friends, family, and fans—even when nobody’s looking.
Which of these contenders, then, is truly contemporary music’s most genuinely cool dude? We pit the Boss against the Foo in a run-through of recent knockout nice moves to determine who is The Nicest Guy in Rock.
Bruce Helps a Brother (in Law) and a Brother (in Music) Out
Less than 24 hours after blowing the roof off Madison Square Garden with U2, Bruce Springsteen took the stage with Timepiece, a scrappy local combo playing Wonder Bar in (where else?) Asbury Park, New Jersey on August 1, 2015.
Timepiece is the musical project of Michael Scialfa, the brother of Patti Scialfa, who just happens to be Mrs. Bruce Springsteen.
Wonder Bar has proven to be quite the Bruce hangout for summer 2015, as the Boss also hopped on stage in July to jam with Joe Gruschecky for two monstrous hours that included the Springsteen classics “Adam Raised a Cain,” “Atlantic City,” “Because the Night,” and “Light of Day.”
Gruschecky is a Pittsburgh special education teacher and Bruce’s longtime friend.
Dave Grohl Returns a Thousand-Fold Love—Italian-Style
The most remarkable rock-related viral video of all time hit the Internet on July 30, 2015, and the world watched in awe of the Rockin’ 1000—one thousand Foo Fighters fans from Cesena, Italy—performed the Foos’ “Learn to Fly” with joy, exuberance, and an entire army of singers and musicians.
Millions viewed the profoundly moving video instantly. Among them were the intended recipients, the five members of the Foo Fighters, who heard the request of project organizer Fabio Zaffagnini and his 999 fellow rockers, asking that the Foos visit their city and play a concert.
Bruce Answers the Call for Musicians on Call
After Michael Solomon lost his fiancée to sarcoma cancer, he established the Kristin Ann Carr fund in her name to raise money and awareness in finding a cure, as well as Musicians on Car, an amazing charity that “brings live and recorded music to patients in healthcare facilities.”
Kristina Ann Carr was also the daughter of Barbara Carr, Bruce Springsteen’s manager for the past 35 years. Therefore, this is a family issue for the Boss.
In May 2015, Bruce played a surprise Musicians on Call benefit with his Seeger Sessions band, alerting the world to this remarkable program and rocking out a terrific show at the same time.
Send Sweet Videos to Foo Fighters? Dave Grohl Never Forgets
A story emerged in July 2015 from 2002, when Dave Grohl was playing drums on tour with Queens of the Stone Age. Dave remembered a little girl with cerebral palsy whose brother sent videos of her dancing to Foo Fighters. He picked them out of a crowd behind the venue and hung out for 20 minutes. The Guardian UK’s Helienne Lindvall wrote of the one particular Grohl act of extraordinary coolness:
My friend Giles has a sister with severe Cerebral Palsy who is a massive Foo Fighters fan. After watching them at Reading one summer, Giles and his sister waited outside the artist area hoping to get a glimpse of Grohl. Sure enough, eventually he appeared, strolling on his own across the field. As he saw Giles’s sister, he walked up to her and asked: “Aren’t you the girl who has sent us pictures of you dancing to our music?”
As she nodded yes, he gave her a big hug with a beaming smile and spent 20 minutes chatting to her before eventually wandering off to the canteen.
A few weeks later, Giles and his sister went to see Queens of the Stone Age at the Astoria. After getting a pass to watch the gig from the side of the stage, they again saw Grohl beaming as he saw her standing there during the gig. After the set, he had another chat with her and invited her to the following day’s video shoot, where he spent time with her between takes.
All this happened without a camera – apart from Giles’s – or publicity person in sight. Maybe he just realized what a huge impact it would have on her life and self esteem.
That spirit arose again earlier this year, when Grohl stopped a Foo Fighters show to hand drum sticks to a blind fan in the audience.
Springsteen Stands Up for Heroes
Bruce Springsteen has long advocated for and raised money on behalf of U.S. military veterans. In November 2014, The Boss became an unofficial Five-Star General in conjunction with the charity Stand Up for Heroes—and had a blast doing it.
Springsteen offered auction prizes that included a one-hour guitar lesson, a ride in his motorcycle sidecar, the shirt off his back(!), and the real piece de resistance, a lasagna dinner, cooked by Bruce himself, to be shared in Springsteen’s home.
In total, the package raised over $600,000. The lasagna itself brought in a spicy $300,000!
Dave Grohl: Charity’s Billion Dollar Baby
According to the website Look to the Stars, Dave Grohl has raised in excess of $1 billion for a vast array of charities.
(Hey, uh… all those links there make it convenient for anybody to donate to these eminently worthy causes, as well).
Bruce Springsteen: The Fixer
Bruce Springsteen anonymously pays for strangers’ home repairs in his native Monmouth County, New Jersey.
In 1989, Bruce set up and funded a program simply called The Foundation that, for its first ten years, was never publicly acknowledged as being Bruce-related. Each year, The Foundation helps local residents cover costs in making necessary fixes to their homes.
When reports surfaced in 1999 that Bruce anonymously backed The Foundation, the organization’s director said: “It’s just his way, he’s always been kind of like that. He doesn’t need to tell them it’s him for it to work.”
Dave Uncages His Inner Drummer for Cage the Elephant
Aside from the Foo Fighters full-time, Dave Grohl is also occasionally active with Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Probot, and, as recently announced, the hardcore combo, B’last! and Alice Cooper’s Hollywood Vampires.
Back in 2011, Grohl also became a member of Cage the Elephant for two nights.
Cage was slated to open for the Foo Fighters in Atlantic City when his appendix burst shortly before show time. Grohl contacted the band’s manager, said he was available to fill in, and, yes, he got the gig.
“I had to pinch myself,” said Cage the Elephant guitarist Lincoln Paris. “I turned around and Dave Grohl is playing the drums. It’s an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Nobody can replace Jared. But… it’s Dave f—ing Grohl. If you’re going to be replaced by anybody, it might as well be the best.”
Artie Lange Gets a Natural High: A Call from Springsteen
Stand-up comic, former Howard Stern sidekick, and New Jersey native Artie Lange has wrestled with, and gotten more than once gotten pinned down by, addiction and mental illness over the past decade or so.
Sadly, because of today’s tabloid media, we all know too much about the huge-hearted comedian’s heroin habit, suicide attempt, and personal turmoil. What no one learned until Lange authored his 2013 memoir Crash and Burn, though, is that his all-time idol reached out to help Artie when the funnyman was just starting to come back from his absolute lowest nadir. That would be Mr. Bruce Springsteen. They chatted for over an hour.
“He could tell what it meant to me,” Artie said. “It helped save my life.”
Dave Grohl Is Your Security
Violence repulses Dave Grohl, and the physical safety of his fans is first and foremost in the head Foo Fighters’ mind. He will, in fact, put the brakes on everything at any given moment to make sure everyone on hand is having a blast without getting hurt.
Case in point: the incredible, invigorating 2011 video of a Foo Fighters gig where Grohl witnesses a fight break out in the audience. He stops the band, demands a spotlight be put on the jerk who started the trouble and calls for security guards to toss him from the arena.
“No-no-no-no-no-no-no!” Grohl shouts. “You don’t f—ckin’ fight at my show, you a–hole! Hey, look at me! Look at me, mother—cker! Look at me! Get the f—k out of my show right now! Get the f—k out! Right now! You don’t come to my show and fight, you come to my show and dance!”
Two years earlier, Dave noticed a little boy near the front at Them Crooked Vultures show. Concerned about him getting hurt in the crowd, Grohl came out from his drum kit, brought the kid on stage and let him hang out up there for the remainder of the gig. It made for yet another fantastic video.
And the Nicest Guy in Rock Is…
You tell us. Take it to the Comments Section and let fly. Just remember… BE NICE!