Why Was “CHAKA” Tagged On Dave Grohl’s Drums in the Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Video?

Nirvana filmed the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on August 17, 1991.  For the video shoot, Dave Grohl used a special bass drum that had “CHAKA” written on it, leaving many people to wonder what “CHAKA” meant.  Here’s a screen shot from the video…

Dave Grohl Chaka Drum Kit Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit Video

Grohl wrote “CHAKA” on the drums as a tribute to West Coast graffiti artist Daniel Ramos who used the tag name “CHAKA” while becoming one of the most prolific graffiti taggers in history.  It is said that he tagged “CHAKA” fifty thousand times at different location and caused a half a million dollars in damage.  He was caught, tried, and convicted in 1991, around the time of the “Smells Like Teen Spirit Video” shoot.

Dave Grohl Smells Like Teen Spirit Drum Kit CHAKA Nirvana

Ramos was sentenced to three years probation and 1,560 hours of community service to be spent cleaning graffiti.  After his sentencing, Ramos was accused of tagging the interior of a civic-center elevator as he left a courtroom and was promptly arrested and charged again. Here’s a photo of Ramos aka “CHAKA” and a sample of his work…

chaka nirvana dave grohl drums daniel ramos ragger

chaka 91 nirvana dave grohl drums smells like teen spirit

A little extra tidbit…Ramos stole the name “CHAKA” from this character from the 1974 TV show “The Land Of The Lost“.

chaka land of the lost ramos nirvana dave grohl drums

Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Video Shoot Details


  1. Hazal says:

    Cool photo, I love Nirvana, Kurt CObain, and Dave too, I still follow him, I still cheer FF.

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