Grohl — drummer of legendary grunge pioneers Nirvana and frontman for hard rocking Grammy winners Foo Fighters — joined Brown and his band for the debut of their new song, “Day for the Dead.”
Even though the segment had been highly anticipated, no one knew quite what to expect from the seemingly opposing artists.
“I cannot wait for this next performance,” awards show co-host Carrie Underwood said in her introduction.
When they appeared, Grohl was seated at a drum set just to the side of Brown’s spot at the front of the stage, with Brown dressed in a skull-and-crossbones covered jacket. Grohl launched into the song with his long black hair flying wildly behind him as Brown and the band hustled to join in.
Featuring a tight, Southern-rock feel sprinkled with elements of New Orleans jazz and funky solos, Brown dipped heavily into voodoo imagery in his lyrics.
“Day for the dead/Dance among the living,” his chorus intoned.
A swampy vocal breakdown reminiscent of the Doobie Brothers‘ “Black Water” took hold toward the end of the song while Grohl waited to retrigger the machine gun attack he had been pummeling his drums with all along. A soaring harmony concluded the tune.
Sure, there were lasers and spotlights on the stage, but watching Grohl hammer away and Brown sing sweetly next to him was more than enough visual contrast to keep things interesting.
As for the reason behind Grohl’s first appearance on the CMA Awards, he and Brown plan to work together again soon with Grohl producing the next Zac Brown Band album.
“I want to work with Dave Grohl,” Brown told reporters earlier in the year. “Dave Grohl is one of our musical heroes as a band, and he said that he would be interested in doing that, too.”
Brown’s last album, Uncaged, won a Grammy for best country album.View complete coverage of the 47th annual CMA Awards.