Chad Channing

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Although the best-known drummer of Nirvana will always be Dave Grohl (he appeared on the group's two mega-hit albums, 1991's Nevermind and 1993's In Utero), it was Chad Channing who laid the groundwork…
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Although the best-known drummer of Nirvana will always be Dave Grohl (he appeared on the group's two mega-hit albums, 1991's Nevermind and 1993's In Utero), it was Chad Channing who laid the groundwork for Grohl on the group's debut, 1989's Bleach. Born on January 31, 1967, in Santa Rosa, CA, Channing's home life was constantly in upheaval, because his father was a radio DJ who was often relocated. When hopes of becoming a soccer player didn't pan out due to an injury, Channing turned to music, picking up both the guitar and drums. Living on Bainbridge Island, WA, and working as a chef at a seafood restaurant, Channing attended a Malfunkshun show one evening in 1988, and was introduced to Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. At the time, Channing was playing alongside a pre-Soundgarden Ben Shepherd in a group called Tic-Dolly-Row, but soon agreed to join up with Cobain and Novoselic in Nirvana (after the duo heard Channing's drum talents on a Tic-Dolly-Row live radio broadcast).

With Channing playing a strangely shaped drum kit made of fiberglass, the group soon set out playing shows. One of Channing's first performances with the band occurred at a small party at Novoselic's mother's house, which was videotaped and later showcased on the DVD portion of the 2004 Nirvana box set, With the Lights Out. It was the Cobain-Novoselic-Channing lineup that appeared on Nirvana's first-ever release, the 1988 Sub Pop single "Love Buzz" b/w "Big Cheese," and embarked on the group's first ever national tour around this time. In 1989 the trio expanded to a quartet with the addition of guitarist Jason Everman, but more importantly, Nirvana issued their debut full-length, Bleach. More touring occurred, with Everman eventually being ousted, and the group returning to their trio setup. But when an invitation to allow Channing more songwriting opportunities failed to pan out, the drummer lost interest in the band, and around the time the four-track Blew EP surfaced in 1989, Channing had exited. Before Channing left, though, he demoed several tracks that would later appear on Nevermind ("In Bloom," "Breed," "Lithium," and "Stay Away") and that would be played almost identically by Grohl. Additionally, Channing would appear on future Nirvana rarities compilations, including 1993's Incesticide (on which Channing earned a co-songwriting credit for the popular track "Sliver") and the aforementioned With the Lights Out.

Since his exit from Nirvana, Channing has appeared with several obscure outfits, including the Fire Ants (which released a lone EP in 1993, Stripped), the Methodists, and East of the Equator (which recorded a full-length effort that was ultimately shelved). Having written and demoed solo material since the '80s, Channing finally decided to go at it alone in 2005, when he assembled a demo of his original material as Before Cars, supplying vocals, rhythm guitar, and drums. The demo was recorded under the watchful eye of Bleach producer Jack Endino, and with the aid of lead guitarist Paul Burback and bassist Andy Miller. Additionally, Channing supplies bass in another outfit, Redband, which also includes singer Jeff Hoyle, guitarist Jim Nybo, and Before Cars drummer Miller.