What’s it like to be the mother of a rock star?
Virginia Hanlon Grohl – yep, Dave Grohl‘s mum – just released a book profiling the lives of fellow rock ‘n’ roll mothers called From Cradle to Stage. It features memoirs and interviews from the mothers of Mike D, Geddy Lee, Tom Morello and Amy Winehouse and more, plus a foreword from Dave Grohl.
What’s it like to be the mother of a rock star? Dave Grohl’s mum is releasing a book spotlighting the women who raised some of the world’s biggest music icons.
As noted in Rolling Stone, the maternal Grohl reflects on her experience mothering a rock star.
Virginia was a high school English teacher from 1959 to 1995. In 1992 she took some time from work to see her son making an appearance on national TV.
“Nirvana was playing Saturday Night Live,and I went to New York to see them,” she says. “Charles Barkley was the host, and I told my class I’d get him to sign some autographs. But if there were any [bad] reports from the substitute, then they would be null and void.”
Virginia, now in her late seventies, attended dozens of her son’s shows with both Nirvana and Foo Fighters over the years, and was always surprised how rarely she ran into other mothers out on the road. So she decided to track some down and ended up interviewing 18 mums of famous musicians for her book.
“They all said, ‘Oh, there’s nothing interesting about me except for my son or daughter.’ And then it turned out that wasn’t true at all.”
In Texas, Virginia met Miranda Lambert’s mom, Bev, who used to be a private investigator (including on the Paula Jones case against Bill Clinton). In Toronto, she talked to Geddy Lee’s mom, Mary Weinrib, a Holocaust survivor who raised a family alone after her husband died.
“Mike D’s mom, Hester Diamond, is a very high-powered woman in the art world,” Virginia says. “When Mike wanted to be a Beastie kind of boy, she was totally accepting.”
She also interviewed Janis Winehouse, whose attempts to save her daughter, Amy, from addiction inspired her opus Rehab. “The Amy Winehouse story hits close to home because there are some parallels between Amy and Kurt,” says Dave Grohl in the book’s foreword.
Like Kurt’s mum, Wendy, Virginia was a single mother. She writes movingly about her relationship with Wendy, and argues that educators can create arts programs that meet the needs of bright kids who don’t quite fit in.
“She understands there are some kids who work outside of conventional systems,” Dave says. As for her own son’s legendary good nature, Virginia remains amazed. “I didn’t need to tell him that even when we just had peanut butter and jelly for dinner he should still say thank you,” she recalls. “He thanked me every time.”
In an interview with the Guardian, mother Grohl also talks about the “bleak days” in the book, about how when young band members or singers “go from city to city with just enough money for hot dogs and Slurpees aren’t what mothers of the musician-adventurers fear”.
It’s the “next step, the one where money and fame replace impoverished obscurity…I did worry about women…I don’t know how to tell you this, it’s so embarrassing, but my biggest fear was that Madonna would snatch him up.”
From Cradle to Stage is out now.[via Rolling Stone]