A look back at one of the drummers that shaped Nirvana’s early Grunge sound
Former Nirvana drummer Chad Channing turns 56
Among Nirvana fans, Chad Channing is a well known name, despite the several drummers the band had before Dave Grohl, Channing still represents Nirvana’s Sub Pop phase as the drummer who shaped their sound during that period. Born on January 31, 1967, in Santa Rosa, California, Chad’s first introduction to music came after he shattered his femur in an accident during gym class at age 13, as he was unable to go to school, he filled much of his time with music. When he was out of his leg casts, his parents bought him a drum set to help build strength in his legs, soon it was clear he was a natural at that instrument.During his early days as a musician he formed bands with several musicians that would become famous in the Seattle music scene, including Jason Everman who’d briefly be part of Nirvana. He also formed the band Tick-Dolly-Row that included future Soundgarden’s bassist Ben Sheperd. It was during a concert of Tick-Dolly-Row where they shared a bill with Nirvana, who at the time were going under the name Bliss, that Channing was introduced to Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. Both were searching for a full time drummer and Channing was picked due to his energetic drumming style who fited perfectly in what Nirvana were doing at the time. In June 1988, only a couple of months after he joined Nirvana, they recorded their first single “Love Buzz”, also marking their Sub Pop debut, and the following year, in 1989, they released their debut album “Bleach” where Channing played drums on the entire album with the exception of “Floyd the Barber”, “Paper Cuts”, and “Downer” which featured drummer Dale Crover from the Melvins, who filled in temporary as a drummer for Nirvana. In 1990, during the recording of the songs that would be part of the album “Nevermind”, Cobain and Novoselic became disenchanted with Channing’s drumming, mainly because they wanted to move away from the classic slow and heavy Grunge formula and needed a more versatile drummer to follow the now more crafted Pop style songs. Channing also expressed frustration at not being actively involved in songwriting and these creative and artistic differences culminated in Channing’s departure, a mutual decision within the band. Soon after, Dave Grohl replaced Chad, and the band started to develop what would become “Nevermind”. Grohl adopted many of the same drum parts to the songs Channing had been playing for the new songs. After leaving Nirvana, Channing formed the Fire Ants who released the Stripped EP on Dekema Records in 1992. Chad finally stepped from behind the drum set to front his new project Before Cars, which released the single “Old Chair” in 2006 and their debut album “Walk Back” in 2008, where he supplies lead vocals and bass on all tracks as well as some acoustic guitar. Following the announcement of Nirvana’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in December 2013, Chad Channing was surprised to find out that he was not going to be included in the April 2014 induction, as the accolade only applied to Cobain, Novoselic and Grohl. However he did attend the ceremony, and was thanked by his replacement Dave Grohl for Channing’s contributions to the band. Today Chad Channing turns 56.
Look back at the 1990 Nirvana music video “In Bloom” featuring Chad Channing on drums
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