Soundgarden's Matt Cameron "honoured" when Kurt Cobain asked him to change his guitar string

The night of 17 April, 1991 was an eventful evening for the burgeoning Seattle scene. Alice in Chains were shooting scenes for their contribution to what would become cult classic movie, Singles. Meanwhile, Nirvana held a gig at the nearby OK Hotel, giving the soon-to-be stratospheric Smells Like Teen Spirit its first live unveiling.

Present at the OK Hotel that night were Soundgarden's Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron, and the Soundgarden drummer recently told the story how he was honoured to become Kurt Cobain's impromptu guitar tech at the gig, as well as recounting his memories of Dave Grohl's drumming.

In an interview with the Seattle Today podcast, the former Soundgarden/current Pearl Jam drummer said, "We heard about this OK Hotel show with Nirvana - with Dave. I think it was his second or third show here in Seattle with Nirvana, maybe it was his first show, I don't know. So anyway, we went to the alleyway behind the OK, knocked on the door and Krist [Novoselic] was there so he let us in. 

"There was one point where Kurt - I didn't know him that well, but we were definitely familiar and acquaintances and stuff - but he broke his guitar string [while playing] and he handed me the guitar and was like, 'Change my guitar string!'

"There was this Scooby-Doo lunchbox with, just some, like, wrapped up guitar strings. I don't know which string I was supposed to change. So I started to change his string, like "I don't know which string goes on which thing here!". Then somebody came in and finished the job for me, luckily. But it was cool, 'Change my string!'. 'Gladly, sir! My pleasure.' It was an honour. 

“They were always great guys. I remember seeing them at a Tuesday Vogue show with Chad and everything. Kim and I were there, and Kurt came up and introduced himself, we'd heard Love Buzz and fu**ing loved it. I think there's a photo of Kurt with a Soundgarden sticker on his guitar. I heard he really loved Screaming Life, our first album, so that's cool." 

Cameron also goes on to share his memory of Dave Grohl at the show. "I was watching Dave play, I was just amazed at his fu**ing power. just how tight he was, and the tempos were spot on. But he had this disgusting plastic water pitcher right next to his left foot. There was this drum stick sawdust in it, and the container was really dirty.

“Then he had these disgusting hiking socks, like wool hiking socks, and I think he had Converse on. It was like, 'That's the worst combination for drumming shoes I've ever seen in my life!'. But he was just fucking pounding, and he'd drink this disgusting sawdust water…but that was all there was, you know?" 

Meanwhile, Cameron recently featured amongst a cast of 100 other drummers performing a cover of The Beatles Come Together in aid of WhyHunger.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.