Los Angeles, March 26 Rock band Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins has died, according to the band’s representative, reports Variety.
No cause of death or further details were immediately announced, although local media reports that he was found in his hotel room before the band was to perform at a festival in Bogota, Colombia on Friday night. He was 50.
According to ‘Variety’, Hawkins, who joined the band in 1997 after two years as Alanis Morissette’s drummer, was a vital element in the Foo Fighters’ sound and image.
An imaginative and rock-solid drummer, he had the seemingly thankless task of playing drums behind Foos singer-guitarist Dave Grohl, who is one of the greatest drummers in rock history, reports ‘Variety’.
Hawkins filled that role with aplomb, bringing his own muscular, time-juggling style to the band’s straight-ahead rock sound without trying to emulate Grohl, even though they shared countless influences, primarily from hard rock, punk and new wave. He was indisputably one of the best rock drummers of the past 25 years.
As the police drummer Stewart Copeland commented ahead of the Foos’ 2021 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: “Taylor is in that John Bonham school of drummer.”
He was also a strong singer and frequently took the mic during the band’s concerts and on B-sides, often on cover versions such as a 2008 live team-up with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, when Grohl went behind the drum kit as Hawkins took the mic.
He also co-wrote many of the band’s songs.
One of Hawkins’ own songs, ‘Cold Day in the Sun’, which appeared on the Foos’ 2005 album ‘In Your Honor’, was often played live on tour, with Grohl manning the drums while Hawkins handled lead vocals. The power pop tune was a fan favorite and showcased Hawkins’ own chops as a frontman.
Born Oliver Taylor Hawkins in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1972, his family moved to Laguna Beach, California, when he was four, and he grew up there. After playing with several bands as a teenager, he became the drummer for rock singer Sass Jordan, leaving to join Morissette on the tour supporting her blockbuster 1995 album ‘Jagged Little Pill’.
He played with Morissette until March of 1997 and featured in ‘Jagged’, the 2021 HBO documentary about the singer.
Foo Fighters, whose 1995 debut was recorded entirely solo by Grohl, had enlisted a full band to record their second album, ‘The Colour and the Shape’, but drummer William Goldsmith left the band during the sessions; the parts we re-recorded by Grohl.
The frontman called Hawkins, whom he’d met in the past, asking for recommendations, thinking he would not want to leave Morissette. But Hawkins volunteered himself, joining in the March of 1997.
He had been a tireless and highly visible member of the band ever since, eagerly participating in the band’s eight studio albums, the most recent of which is last year’s Grammy-nominated ‘Medicine at Midnight’ hundreds of concerts, and many Grohl-led side-projects like the Bee Gees parody/tribute act the DeeGees and the group’s recent mock horror film, ‘Studio 666’.
An offshoot of that project, a heavy metal EP called ‘Dream Widow’, was released last night.
Foo Fighters have cancelled the remaining date on their South American tour, an appearance at the Lollapalooza Festival in Brazil on Sunday but they are scheduled to perform at the Grammy Awards a week later, on April 3, with dozens of tour dates scheduled for the remainder of the year in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
The band’s plans were unclear at the time of this article’s publication, however, it would not be out of character for Grohl to make a heartfelt tribute or a statement on the tragedy at the Grammys, whether or not the group performs.
As word of Hawkins’ death reached the Estero Picnic festival in Colombia, candles were placed on the stage in his honor. “This news takes us all by surprise,” read a caption accompanying a photo of the tribute.
Hawkins suffered a heroin overdose in 2001 and was in a coma for two weeks, although he characterised it as an accident and told Beats 1 he had been “partying a lot” but was not addicted.
The Foos are known for touring relentlessly, crisscrossing the globe several times over when they’re not in the studio. Hawkins was a road warrior if ever there was one, spending nearly all of his adult life performing in arenas, stadiums and festivals, in addition to the not-so-odd club show.
The Foo Fighters were themselves inducted into the Rock Hall in 2021, with Hawkins, along with his family, in attendance (and wearing a T-shirt that read, “The tempo is whatever I say it is”). Paul McCartney handled the induction honours and several musicians appeared in a video package ahead of the band’s acceptance.
In that video, Jack Black commented: “Taylor has the hardest job because he’s the drummer in a band that includes the greatest drummer alive. And he’s got technique that Dave only dreams about.”
Elsewhere in the package, Hawkins observed: “I’ve had people ask me in interviews, ‘What is it like to be a rockstar?’ And I’m, like, I’m not a rockstar, I’m a musician.'”
In taking the stage, Hawkins used the moment to champion three other acts that he believes should be in the Rock Hall: George Michael, Soundgarden and Jane’s Addiction.
Hawkins is survived by his wife, Alison, and three children.