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Ohio Life

David Grohl Alley

The city of Warren offers an artistic tribute to the Ohio native, Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman

Behind the sandwich shop and the comic book store on Warren’s Market Street runs a vein of rock ’n’ roll. David Grohl Alley cuts behind businesses and apartment buildings, its brick walls painted with murals that pay tribute to the Warren-born Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman.

Colorful portraits of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee peer out from one wall, while a sculpture installed in the alley depicts a metal figure that resembles Grohl playing a drum kit. There’s even a pair of drumsticks on display — the world’s largest at 900 pounds each.

But up until 2009, the alley wasn’t anything special. Actually, it was dingy, overgrown and cluttered with litter. That was until now-retired local police officer Joseph O’Grady learned Grohl had been born in Warren and decided the city needed a musical tribute to their hometown hero.

“This guy was the drummer in Nirvana. Why is it nobody’s saying anything?” O’Grady, a lifelong music fan, recalls thinking. “I couldn’t believe it.”

And while he could have simply picked a day to dedicate to Grohl, what O’Grady really wanted was to create a destination.

Familiar with the city’s streets, he located one downtown without any addresses, which makes for a relatively uncomplicated name change, and petitioned city council to rename the alley. But a new name alone wasn’t enough.

“I thought, Let’s have a grand opening celebration, a big music event,” recalls O’Grady, adding that the celebration grew into a full-on festival with local bands, food, drinks and one unexpected guest. “All of a sudden, this car pulls in. Guess who gets out?”

Grohl made a few remarks in appreciation of the honor and even jumped in with Youngstown band Love Turns Hate to play a few songs. “He was the kindest, most appreciative person in the world,” O’Grady says.

Since its creation, the alley has also become a rotating canvas for local artists and is always open to a new interpretation or appreciation for Grohl’s music. “It’s for the artist, but it makes it a little travel destination,” O’Grady says. “That’s what I wanted: to bring people to Warren.”

David Grohl Alley runs parallel to West Market Street in downtown Warren. Its west entrance is near the Burger King on Main Street. For more information, visit exploretrumbullcounty.com.

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