This morning, London tabloid the Sun set off a firestorm with a report that Paul McCartney would be replacing the late Kurt Cobain tonight in a “Nirvana reunion.” A more reliable U.K. newspaper, the Guardian, appeared to confirm the news, though it quoted a spokesman for Dave Grohl saying only that the former Nirvana drummer had invited McCartney to “jam with some mates,” which doesn’t exactly sound like something Grohl would ever say. However, a publicist with Nasty Little Man, which represents both McCartney and Grohl, has told SPIN “we can neither confirm nor deny” the reports.
The occasion, tonight’s 12-12-12: Concert for Sandy Relief, has already brought together a lineup so star-studded that a lineup of Grohl, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, unofficial fourth Nirvana member Pat Smear, and the former Beatles singer sounds almost plausible. The Rolling Stones have already signed onto the bill, along with McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Kanye West, Eddie Vedder, Grohl, Chris Martin, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, and the Who. Would adding Novoselic and Smear, and asking the former members of the band behind Nevermind to play with one of two surviving members of the band behind Revolver really be such a stretch?
As the Sun tells it, contradicting the Guardian, it was McCartney who says he called up Grohl and asked him to “jam with some mates,” rather than vice versa. Macca reportedly said they should “just make something up” and then did indeed jam with Grohl, Novoselic, and Smear. “I didn’t really know who they were,” McCartney’s quoted as saying. “They are saying how good it is to be back together. I said ‘Whoa? You guys haven’t played together for all that time? … And somebody whispered to me ‘That’s Nirvana. You’re Kurt.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
A couple of quick fact-checks cast doubt on the rest of the too-good-to-be-true tale’s veracity. First, the Sun and the Guardian both report that Grohl and Novoselic have not performed together in 20 years, which, as former President Bill Clinton might say, “arithmetic,” people. Cobain didn’t die until April 5, 1994. Nirvana’s last show, according to Nirvana Guide, was in March 1994. That would be less than 19 years ago even if Grohl and Novoselic had never reunited since then. But they have, Novoselic has collaborated with Grohl’s current band Foo Fighters multiple times over the years, including playing bass and accordion on a track from last year’s Wasting Light and on rare occasions joining the Foos onstage. At least a couple of those times, Smear was there, too. If the British press can’t get that part right, can we trust the rest of the article?
We’ll find out for sure either way soon enough. The concert airs at 7:30 pm. EST tonight. It will be broadcast live on 34 U.S. TV channels, international TV stations, and Clear Channel radio. Check out a full list of viewing options here. Also, for those in areas affected by the storm, movie theaters will be offering a free simulcast. Nirvana-McCartney on a big screen? Maybe. For now, check out Sir Paul back in 2008 at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium, performing “Back in the U.S.S.R.” with Grohl on drums. Seems Macca must’ve heard of that guy after all.