5 August 1959 (age 64)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Georg Albert Ruthenberg (born August 5, 1959), better known by the stage name Pat Smear, is an American musician. He is best known as a rhythm guitarist for the rock band Foo Fighters, with whom he has recorded six studio albums.
Smear was a founding member of punk band the Germs and was the touring guitarist for grunge band Nirvana from 1993 to 1994. After Nirvana disbanded following the suicide of its frontman Kurt Cobain, drummer Dave Grohl went on to become the frontman of rock band Foo Fighters, with Smear soon joining on guitar. He left Foo Fighters in 1997, before rejoining as a touring guitarist in 2005, and has been a full-time member since 2010.
As a teenager in 1976, Smear and Darby Crash formed the Germs with bassist Lorna Doom and drummer Dottie Danger (the pseudonym of Belinda Carlisle who went on to front The Go-Go's). Smear was the only band member who had any musical knowledge or proficiency at the time. For most of his time in the Germs, Smear reported that he didn't own a guitar but rather "just borrowed from whoever we were playing with".
Carlisle was soon replaced by Don Bolles and, in 1979, the band released their first album, (GI), produced by Joan Jett. The record is now regarded as a milestone in the history of punk rock, with Smear earning praise for his guitar work. The Germs, including Smear, appeared in the punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), directed by Penelope Spheeris. The band endured for one more year before finally disbanding in 1980 after Crash killed himself.
Solo work (1980–1993)
Following the demise of the Germs, Smear played in 1981 with ex-The Screamers keyboardist Paul Roessler and his sister Kira Roessler in a band called Twisted Roots. Although short-lived, the band was the toast of the Hollywood punk scene. Smear would go on to play with Nina Hagen and make two solo albums of his own, 'Ruthensmear' (also recorded with Roessler), and 'So You Fell In Love With A Musician'. Smear also had a brief stint as a member of punk band The Adolescents in 1981. He was also known as Pat Bulsara in the group Vagina Dentata.
During this time, he also worked as an actor in bit parts, appearing in the television shows Quincy, M.E. and CHiPs, and in the films Blade Runner and Breakin'. While working on Breakin', Smear became friends with Courtney Love. He also appeared as an extra in the music video for Prince and The Revolution's single "Raspberry Beret," sitting in front of Lisa Coleman's piano.
45 Grave (1981)
Smear was briefly in deathrock band 45 Grave with Don Bolles (the former drummer for the Germs). During this stint, they recorded a 7" titled Black Cross and other tracks that would later appear on 45 Grave's 1987 compilation album, Autopsy.
In 1993, he received a call from Nirvana's frontman Kurt Cobain, asking him to join the band as a second guitarist for an upcoming tour. At first, Smear thought his friend, Carlos "Cake" Nunez, was pranking him; however, Courtney Love had told Smear a few days prior that Cobain was going to call him. Smear accepted immediately and played his first show with Nirvana on Saturday Night Live on September 25, 1993. He toured with Nirvana for about six months. Smear appeared on their live albums MTV Unplugged in New York, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, as well as on material for the compilations Nirvana and With the Lights Out and the concert DVD Live and Loud. Smear's time with Nirvana was his first mass audience exposure, but came to an end quickly after Cobain's death in April 1994.
Foo Fighters (1994–1997)
Following Cobain's death, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl formed a band to support his self-titled album, which would ultimately become known as Foo Fighters. Smear joined the group from its inception in late October 1994, but because their first album was a collection of demos recorded solely by Grohl, Smear did not appear on a Foo Fighters album until The Colour and the Shape (1997). Shortly after the release of The Colour and the Shape, Smear quit the band. As Smear later explained, he quit mainly due to exhaustion from the band's relentless touring schedule. Smear announced his departure from Foo Fighters during a live performance at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards; he played partway through the set, then introduced Stahl who completed the gig.
Hiatus from Foo Fighters and Germs Reunion (1997–2008)
Smear kept a fairly low profile during his absence from Foo Fighters. He produced the debut album for the band Harlow and made scattered television appearances. He was employed as a creative consultant in a motion picture about the Germs and Darby Crash, entitled What We Do Is Secret, named after one of the band's best-known songs. The film was released at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 23, 2007, and had a limited theatrical release in 2008 and now available on DVD. In the film, Smear is depicted by actor Rick Gonzalez. In 2005, he began performing reunion shows with the Germs, including actor Shane West, who portrays Darby Crash in the film, filling in as lead vocalist.
Rejoining Foo Fighters (2005–present)
In late 2005, Smear began performing select shows with Foo Fighters again. He continued to play intermittently with the group, often not for the entirety of a concert, before fully rejoining in 2010 and participating in the recording of what would become the album Wasting Light. He went on to record with the rest of the band on their 8th studio album, Sonic Highways.
During the Foo Fighters' Friday night performance at Bumbershoot Festival on August 29, 1997, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic joined his former bandmates Dave Grohl and Pat Smear on stage for the Foo's encore to salute the late Kurt Cobain. Grohl took his position on drums, Novoselic played bass, and Smear accompanied on guitar. A spotlight encompassed the microphone stand to honor Cobain. They performed a cover of Prince's "Purple Rain", after which a roadie for the Foo Fighters joined them on stage and sang a version of Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown". On December 22, 2010, the remaining members of Nirvana played together during a Foo Fighters show at Paladino's in Tarzana, California, which was recorded for a documentary. On December 12, 2012, Smear, Novoselic and Grohl reunited again for a televised Live Aid Hurricane Sandy benefit. This time, they were fronted by Paul McCartney. They performed "Cut Me Some Slack", the first track from the film soundtrack for Sound City. On December 15, 2012, they performed "Cut Me Some Slack" on Saturday Night Live, once again fronted by McCartney. On July 19, 2013, Smear, Novoselic and Grohl reunited on-stage, again with Paul McCartney, during both the first and second encores of McCartney's "Out There" tour stop at Safeco Field, Seattle. They performed "Cut Me Some Slack", as well as numerous Beatles' songs. On April 11, 2014, Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Though Smear was not inducted, he joined Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic on stage for performances of Nirvana songs along with Joan Jett, Lorde, St. Vincent and Kim Gordon. The surviving Nirvana members reunited yet again with Joan Jett, Deer Tick's John McCauley, as well as The Distillers' Brody Dalle for a six-song encore set to close out Cal Jam 18 on Saturday, October 6, 2018, at Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino, Calif.
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