Revisiting Foo Fighters' album One by One as it turns 20

Virgin Radio

21 Oct 2022, 13:31

Credit: Roswell / RCA / Rex

This weekend, it will be 20 years since legendary US rockers Foo Fighters released their fourth studio album. One by One landed on 22nd October 2002, boasting hit singles All My Life and Times Like These.

The album's creation was not without some serious bumps in the road. Initial recording sessions didn’t go well, reportedly causing tension between the band members to the point where - despite the fact that they’d already spent months on them and a whole bunch of money - they decided to start from scratch. 

And so, the band went back to the drawing board at frontman Dave Grohl's home studio in Virginia. 

Before this though, the individual band members went off and did their own thing for a while. Grohl, for example, became the Queens of the Stone Age drummer for a tour, having also worked on their album, Songs for the Deaf.

One by One was the first album on which Grohl did not play drums, with the late Taylor Hawkins taking over permanently. Hawkins previously appeared on some tracks on the previous album, 1999’s There is Nothing Left to Lose, sharing drumming duties with the band’s founder and frontman. One by One was also the first album recorded with Chris Shiflett as part of the band as lead guitarist.

The reworked record channelled the energy of the band’s live performances, which Grohl attributed to their extensive touring and the short period of time during which the new recordings were put together.

The record also featured the singles Low and Have It All.

The album’s title is taken from the lyrics within All My Life. The song was the first single to be released from One by One, and won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. It hit the top five of the UK charts.

One by One was broadly well received by music critics. Rolling Stone said the introspective themes on the record were “stronger and broader than autobiography”. Billboard concurred, saying that the album had "an emotional intimacy that makes it all more satisfying".

The praise wasn’t universal, however, with Pitchfork saying that the songs lacked “strength and character”. Meanwhile the BBC's review said that “there’s about half a fantastic album here,” but that “it leaves you feeling just a little frustrated.” 

Indeed, Dave Grohl has since said, in an interview with Rolling Stone, that "four of the songs were good, and the other seven I've never played again in my life.”

Despite this, the album won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album, and was popular with fans. It debuted at number one in the UK, Ireland, and Australia, and spent 50 weeks in the Billboard chart in the US.

The year-a-half long tour to promote the album included headline performances at the 2002 Reading and Leeds Festivals.

The next album was 2005’s In Your Honor. Four more records followed, before the band’s most recent offering, 2021’s Medicine at Midnight.

On 25th of March this year, drummer Taylor Hawkins died in his room at the Casa Medina hotel in Bogotá, Colombia during the band’s South American tour. Last month, Foo Fighters played tribute concerts at Wembley Stadium in London, and at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles.