Taylor Hawkins, the drummer of the Foo Fighters, passed away suddenly on March 25 in Bogotá, Colombia. He was 50 years old.
The Foo Fighters were supposed to play the Estéreo Picnic Festival the night of Hawkins’ death. In lieu of a performance, a candlelight vigil was held at the stage where they would have performed. The band has canceled all upcoming tour dates.
Before joining the Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins was the touring drummer for Alanis Morisette. When conflict within the Foo Fighters led to drummer William Goldsmith’s departure during the recording of “The Colour and the Shape,” frontman Dave Grohl recruited Hawkins to join the band.
Their friendship was the central pillar of the Foo Fighters. In Grohl’s autobiography “The Storyteller,” he referred to Hawkins as “an F5 tornado of hyperactive joy… my brother from another mother, my best friend, a man for whom I would take a bullet.”
Whether you were a close friend or a member of the audience, the enthusiasm he radiated could be felt. Foo Fighters’ concerts are a celebration of life and rock ‘n’ roll. Taylor Hawkins played a critical part in creating that experience, both as the driving percussive force and the rockstar of the stage. He sat behind the kit with an incessant smile and a laid-back charisma, hitting the drums with both great intensity and technical skill.
“You’re getting something real… you’re getting a human exchange, and we’re actually really feeding off the audience and the excitement,” Hawkins said in an interview with Kerrang.
Hawkins pursued several projects aside from the Foo Fighters, including The Coattail Riders and The Birds of Satan, as well as supergroup NHC which consisted of Hawkins and Jane’s Addiction band members Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney. He was also in the cover band Chevy Metal, which was an opportunity for him to showcase his admiration for his 70’s rock heroes.
“It’s all about making music with friends. That’s kind of the ethos with the Foo Fighters really… that’s kind of how I feel about [Chevy Metal] as well,” Hawkins told Rolling Stone.
Not only did Hawkins contribute to the Foo Fighters as a drummer, but he also lent his voice. He takes lead vocals on the songs “Cold Day in the Sun” and “Sunday Rain,” and his covers of Queen songs like “Under Pressure” and “Somebody to Love” are Foo Fighters’ live staples.
I had the honor of witnessing the power of Taylor Hawkins live in 2018. I have grown up listening to the Foo Fighters and that show was my first big rock concert. The image of Hawkins being lifted up on the drum riser as he played a solo before breaking into “Sunday Rain” is forever branded into my mind. In times when I have felt disillusioned, that memory has reminded me why I love music.
For the past two decades, the Foo Fighters have remained a modern rock juggernaut. One can always count on hearing them on the radio, whether it’s a new hit or a beloved classic. The Foo Fighters are a symbol of hope and perseverance. In the wake of the tragic end of Nirvana, Dave Grohl was able to put together one of the most accomplished rock bands of the 21st century. Taylor Hawkins was an irreplaceable part of that success story. Such a huge loss for a seemingly invincible band makes it all the more painful.
When the Foo Fighters played their final show on March 20 at Lollapalooza Argentina, they did so with their signature all-or-nothing mentality. Footage from their set shows Hawkins playing fervently as always, sharing laughs with his bandmates and commanding the crowd. But the moment that displayed his character the most was three days prior to his death when he left his hotel to meet a nine-year-old fan who was playing drums outside. Until the end, Taylor Hawkins was living by his code– positively touching people’s lives with his love for music.
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