From a broken leg to chugging beers, Grohl is having a viral moment.

By Eric Renner Brown
September 03, 2015 at 01:25 PM EDT
C Flanigan/WireImage

The calendars have flipped to September, meaning the annual dogfight for the song of the summer has, more or less, ended. And, unlike “Crazy” in 2006 or “Call Me Maybe” in 2012, there isn’t a consensus pick for the season’s jam. With “See You Again,” Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth dominated the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 from April 25 to July 18—excluding a one-week interruption by Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”—but that song feels more like a spring holdover bolstered by Furious 7‘s box office success. And while OMI’s “Cheerleader” and The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” have contested the top slot in recent weeks, the former lacked typical song of summer ubiquity and the latter, along with the freshly-released Beauty Behind the Madness, appears more likely to be the opening salvo in a fall where every day is the Weeknd. Throw in the slew of songs EW’s staff thinks should’ve ruled the airwaves, and the scene fractures even more.

That’s where Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters frontman and apparent master of the Internet, comes in. During a summer that firmly rejected monoculture, Grohl threw a monkey wrench into the narrative, owning social networks and the web on a daily basis like he’s been waiting for times like these all his life. And it should’ve never happened: Just weeks after closing out David Letterman’s final show and embarking on a huge stadium tour, Grohl fell from a stage while performing in Sweden, shattering his leg. He canceled a string of European tour dates, casting doubt on the Foo’s massive 20th anniversary bash. But Grohl stuck around and answered the call for seasonal musical omnipresence, designing a special performance throne during his drugged-out recovery and proceeding to demolish stages—and retweet counts—throughout the country (and Italy).

Forget the Weeknd and OMI: Dave Grohl going viral was the real song of this summer. Here’s how 2015 became the summer of Dave Grohl.

June 12: The fracture heard ’round the world

About three weeks into the Foo Fighters European tour, Grohl fell from the stage at Gothenburg, Sweden’s Ullevi Stadium during the second song of the band’s set, breaking his leg. “When it happened, I didn’t feel a thing,” Grohl later told EW. “I tried to get up and walk and my ankle collapsed under my weight. … But it still didn’t hurt. I was just laughing. I couldn’t believe it happened.” Grohl’s injury initially forced the band to cancel two tour dates, before scrapping the remainder of their European jaunt, which included a headlining slot at Glastonbury Festival. Florence + The Machine filled in for the Foos, covering “Times Like These.”

July 4: (Re)born on the Foo-th of July

After Grohl’s injury, concern immediately began to circulate that the Foo Fighters would have to cancel their 20th anniversary Fourth of July blowout that had been in the works since November 2014. Booked for RFK Stadium in Grohl’s hometown of Washington, D.C., the band had recruited stars featured in HBO’s Sonic Highways docuseries including Joan Jett, Buddy Guy, and LL Cool J—and Grohl didn’t let the gig fall apart.

“Four or five days after surgery, I thought, ‘We’re going to do that Fourth of July show and I can’t just sit on a stool like Paul Simon or whatever, I have to make it look cool,'” Grohl told EW. “I picked up the hotel stationery and made this primitive drawing that had arrows and descriptions, had the Foo Fighters logo, and said ‘lasers and s—.'” The day of the show, Grohl jammed on Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” with members of Pearl Jam and Blind Melon, using a folding chair as a prop for his leg, but it was the evening’s unveiling of the epic throne that became an overnight sensation. Grohl explained to the D.C. crowd that he “was high as a f–king kite” on painkillers when he designed the seat.

July 15: New York Chili

“At the Fourth of July show, when the screen dropped and I was sitting on that f—king throne and 50,000 people’s jaws dropped, I thought, ‘OK, we’re going to stay on tour, this is going to work,” Grohl told EW shortly after the gig. And, indeed, they went Super Saiyan for the rest of their long-planned string of summer dates. One early viral highlight was the Foo’s encore—a rarity already—for the first of two shows at New York’s Citi Field, when the group invited Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith onstage for a cover of the Faces’ “Stay With Me.” As drummer Taylor Hawkins recalled the 1999 tour with the Chili Peppers where the Foos learned to be a band, Grohl interjected, “It’s certainly when we learned to party!”

July 19: Surgeon nation army

For the Foo Fighters concert at Fenway Park, Grohl invited his orthopedic surgeon Lew C. Schon onstage to perform the White Stripes’ stadium classic “Seven Nation Army” with the band. “Holy sh-t, that’s actually my doctor,” Grohl told the crowd after the doc belted out White’s iconic lyrics. “What a badass.” Rock stars? Kids everywhere are now dreaming of becoming rock doctors.

July 30-31: The Italian job

The Foo Fighters hadn’t scheduled 2015 gigs in Italy, even before Grohl broke his leg. That was a serious issue for the country’s apparently robust Foo Fighters fan base, which issued a video early this year lobbying the band to perform there. They upped the ante in late July, dropping a video with 1,000 Foo fans rocking out to “Learn to Fly” on a massive field in Cesena. Always one for spectacle, Grohl responded with a YouTube video of his own, assuring fans in Italian that, “We’re coming, I swear. We’ll see each other soon. Thank you so much. I love you.” He’s a man of his word: The band has scheduled two gigs in the country, slated for Nov. 13 and 14.

August 12: Canadian pride

Sometimes the Foo Fighters bleed so much red, white, and blue that it hurts, which made their Edmonton, Canada gig refreshing. The group honored prog rock legends and national heroes Rush by inviting a talented audience member onstage to cover the band’s high-octane “Tom Sawyer.” “I don’t even know how to follow that sh-t,” Grohl said after the song concluded, reportedly inviting the man backstage for beers with the band. All that was missing were the Mounties.

August 16: Tears for Foos

Like the best bands, the Foo Fighters can drive their most ardent fans to tears. Their chief song for pulling heartstrings is “My Hero,” and at a concert in Englewood, Colorado, Grohl spotty a misty-eyed fan and seized the moment during an acoustic rendition of the cut. “Don’t cry, motherf—er, I know you’re drunk… don’t cry,” said Grohl, inviting the crying man onstage. “I’m gonna sing this f–king song right in your face, man to man, prison style, I’m going man to man. I want some real tears, you better sing it with me… I’m going to sing this to your crying grown-man ass.”

August 21: Rock and Rickroll

Are the Foo Fighters controversial? Apparently the Westboro Baptist Church thinks so. The church continued its saga of criticizing beloved things when it protested the band’s Kansas City, Missouri gig—and the Foos responded by doing a drive-by Rickroll, blaring Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” from a slow-moving pickup truck. “You can’t just sit there and do nothing, you got to go out there, and say what you wanna say, so we did,” Grohl explained during the band’s show that night. “Cause nothing says love like a little Rick Astley in your life, you know what I’m saying? Never gonna give his ass up!” For what it’s worth, the Foos staged a more elaborate anti-protest when the WBC boycotted their 2011 concert in Kansas City.

August 24: Pabst Foo Ribbon

Turns out sharing a beer with America’s biggest rock star is easier than you might think. When a fan at a Michigan show brought a sign reading “It’s My 50th. Let’s Have A Beer,” Grohl invited him onstage. “Griffin went to Office Depot and bought one piece of cardboard and a magic marker,” Grohl quipped. “There you go, that’s all it takes.” But don’t expect a lengthy bro sesh with Grohl—he’s a busy dude. “We’ve got a lot of songs we’ve got to play tonight,” Grohl told Griffin. “I’m gonna share this beer with you, and then I’ve gotta do my job.”

August 27: Foos Traveler

The Foos are renowned for their garage-via-stadium riffage, but they get down with the blues as much as you’d expect of any dad-rockers. Enter harmonica virtuoso John Popper of Blues Traveler, who joined the band onstage in Indiana for a harmonica-based jam session. Thankfully the clip didn’t stay viral long enough to launch thinkpieces ruminating the divergent paths of the two bands since the mid-’90s.

August 29: Long road to Wrigley

It all had to end up in Chicago, didn’t it? The first installment of Sonic Highways tackled the Windy City’s music scene, and when the band hit Wrigley Field this past weekend it drafted local legends Naked Raygun and Cheap Trick to open the show. Because Wrigley is across the street from the Cubby Bear—where Grohl saw his first punk show, by none other than Naked Raygun—the Foos frontman took the opportunity to wax poetic about Chicago’s music history. “Tonight, I’m celebrating as much as anybody else because let me tell you, if it weren’t for your f—ing city, I wouldn’t f—ing be here right now,” he told the crowd.

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