At first glance, Dave Grohl and Dave Letterman have little in common other than sharing the same first name.
While Letterman grew up in Indiana and was married for the first time in 1969, the same year Grohl was born in Ohio, the two eventually became power players in the same decade -- the 1990s.
Spurned by NBC, Letterman took his acerbic sense of humor in 1993 to CBS and the Ed Sullivan Theater, where he finally called it a late night on May 20, 2015. Bringing some of the best and brightest comedians onstage, Letterman let some of his show's closest friends -- including Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin and Bill Murray -- count down the final Top 10 list: "Things I've Always Wanted to Say to Dave."
Grohl, who founded the Foo Fighters in 1994 after his pivotal role as drummer of Nirvana ended with the death of Kurt Cobain, easily could have joined that club. Blazing his own trail of alternative head-banging rock 'n' roll with guitar in hand, the gripping songs by the group's primary composer connected with fans young and old, even the curmudgeonly TV talk show host.
Along with current members Taylor Hawkins (drums), Pat Smear and Chris Shiflett (guitars) and Nate Mendel (bass), Foo Fighters have made eight albums and won 11 Grammys. They also landed at the top of Letterman's favorite rock bands, and he made them his closing act, offering a detailed but touching explanation as a means of one final introduction:
"So 15 years ago, I have open-heart surgery. And these people saved my life. And I'm out, not doing the show for like five or six weeks, and I'm in talking with (music segment producer) Sheila Rogers. And she says, 'Well, on your first show back, is there anything special you would like musically?' And I said, 'Well, yeah.' And we got to talking and we said, 'What about Foo Fighters?' They had been on I think at that time four or five times and she said, 'Well, I'll ask them, but it could be a problem.'
"And I said, 'Well, just ask them. And also, there's a song of theirs I would like to hear. It's special to me, it's been meaningful for my heart recovery, it would be just great.' Two days later, she calls back, she says, 'Aww, there's some... we have some... they're on tour... in South America.'
"And I said, 'Oh, darn.' And she said, 'Oh, that's all right, they canceled the tour.' (crowd applauds enthusiastically) She said, 'They are coming back to do the show and they are doing the song that you asked for.' And ladies and gentlemen, happily ever since, we've been joined at the hip. God bless you, gentlemen. Thanks very much."
Exchanging waves before saying his last goodbye to the theater and television audience, Letterman presented the tuxedoed Foo Fighters, who appeared briefly on screen as the show concluded with a series of clips and stills while Grohl & Co. continued playing "Everlong" that ended with the verse:
And I wonder
If everything could ever feel this real forever
If anything could ever be this good again
The only thing I'll ever ask of you
You've got to promise not to stop when I say when
Five days earlier, Foo Fighters proved to be the best of the headliners for the three-day Hangout festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama, covering material from their self-titled debut released in 1995 to their most recent, 2014's Sonic Highways.
"It's gonna be a long fuckin' night," the frontman promised an excited crowd eagerly awaiting a Late Show with David Grohl.
"How often do you get a little bit of sun, a little bit of sand, a little bit of maximum rock 'n' roll?" Grohl later added, then delivered just that.
Perhaps he was getting prepared for the Fighters' grand finale with Letterman, as 10 of the 11 opening songs on the set list could have served as a fitting tribute to TV's ultimate wise guy.
It's not Top 10-worthy (leave that to the comedy writers), but here are sample lyrics to those songs the Foo Fighters played on May 15 to open their Hangout show (numbered in order on the set list, skipping "Big Me" at No. 8):
1. "Young Man Blues" -- "But you know nowadays / It's the old man /
He's got all the money"
2. "All My Life" -- "Done I'm done and I'm on to the next one."
3. "Times Like These" -- "It's times like these you learn to live again."
4. "Learn to Fly" -- "Looking for something to help me burn out bright."
5. "Something from Nothing" --"Bid farewell to yesterday /
Say goodbye I'm on my way."
6. "The Pretender" -- "What if I say I'm not like the others?"
7. "Walk" -- "For the very first time / Don't you pay no mind? / Set me free again."
9. "Long Road to Ruin" -- "Dear God I've sealed my fate /
Running through hell, heaven can wait."
10. "My Hero" -- "Kudos, my hero / Leaving all the best /
You know my hero / The one that's on."
11. "In the Clear" -- (with the Preservation Hall Band): "There are times I feel like givin' in / There are times I begin to begin again."
Concert photos by Michael Bialas. See more from the 2015 Hangout festival on May 15-17 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.