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Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins dies at 50

The Foo Fighters were scheduled to perform in Bogotá on Friday. Mr Hawkins last performed on March 20 at a festival in San Isidro, Argentina.

Mr Hawkins was not the Foo Fighters drummer when the band was formed by Dave Grohl in 1994, but after taking over the drum chair in 1997 he became an important part of the band’s live performances and recordings. After Grohl, he was perhaps the most recognizable member of the group, known for his humor, his flying mane of blonde hair and his inventive and dynamic style of playing the drums.

For two years in the 1990s, Mr Hawkins was the drummer for Alanis Morissette, who was then at the height of her fame, touring in the wake of her hit album ‘Jagged Little Pill’, which sold out over 30 million copies. Grohl, who had been the drummer for Kurt Cobain’s seminal grunge band Nirvana, started the Foo Fighters after Cobain died by suicide in 1994.

Although Grohl, who grew up in northern Virginia, is considered one of rock’s greatest drummers, he decided to make a name for himself as a guitarist and vocalist with the Foo Fighters. (The name comes from a book Grohl had read about UFOs.)

While making the album “The Color and the Shape” (1997), which contained one of the Foo Fighters’ biggest hits, “Everlong”, Grohl fired his drummer and played the parts himself. battery. He then asked Mr. Hawkins, whom he had met at music festivals, if he could recommend a new drummer. Mr. Hawkins volunteered for the job himself. He and Grohl instantly became close friends and musical soul mates.

“When we first met, our bond was immediate and we grew closer every day, every song, every note we played together,” Grohl wrote in a 2021 autobiography, “The Storyteller.” He described Mr Hawkins as his ‘best friend’ and ‘a man I would take a bullet for’.

Mr. Hawkins had long been a fan of British band Queen and their explosive gigs and had grown up with a cutting California style, sometimes referred to as glam metal or alternative metal. He brought strength and complexity to the drums, influenced by Roger Taylor from Queen, Stewart Copeland from The Police and Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction.

“I went to his little house in Topanga Canyon,” Grohl told Entertainment Weekly last year, “he sat and played for three seconds, and the first time he hit a snare drum, I knew it. I swear to God. I was like, ‘That’s all I need to…hear. …You just gave me hearing damage for the rest of my life in three seconds. You have to be in the group.

Mr Hawkins admitted that “technically I think [Grohl is] better than me” on drums, but he anchored seven Foo Fighters albums, all of which went platinum. He wrote several songs for the group with Grohl or alone and served as lead singer on some, including “Cold Day in the Sun” and “Sunday Rain”. He and Grohl often had long duet jams during Foos gigs, each pushed by the other.

“We get a little telepathic on stage,” Hawkins told Entertainment Weekly. (Other band members more recently included guitarists Pat Smear and Chris Shiflett, bassist Nate Mendel and keyboardist Rami Jaffee.)

Mr. Hawkins contributed to the group’s 12 Grammy-winning performances. A new album, “Medicine at Midnight,” was released in February and is up for three Grammys this year. The Foo Fighters were scheduled to perform at the Grammy Awards in Las Vegas on April 3. (It was not immediately clear if the band would cancel their appearance.)

“I think Taylor really underestimates his importance in this band,” Grohl told Rolling Stone in 2021. “Maybe because he’s not the original drummer, but, my God, what would be “We without Taylor Hawkins? Can you imagine? That would be a whole different thing. … Taylor’s insecurity drives him to outdo himself.”

Oliver Taylor Hawkins was born on February 17, 1972 in Fort Worth and grew up in Laguna Beach, California. He said little about his family background, except that his parents bought him a drum set when he was 10.

“I was a fat, chubby, stupid kid who [failed] to everything and nobody liked it,” he said in 2000. “Then I started playing drums. He won a talent contest in high school and started playing in local bands before working with singer Sass Jordan and later with Morissette.

Mr. Hawkins was known as a free spirit with an engaging sense of humor. He appeared in numerous Foo Fighters videos, including one in which he was dressed as a flight attendant. He also participated in several side projects, including the “Dee Gees” (an imitation of the Bee Gees’ Foo Fighters), and recorded several albums as the leader of Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders and a cover band of metal called Chevy Metal.

“I never wanted to be ‘just a drummer,'” Mr. Hawkins told Billboard magazine in 2019. “I always wanted to write songs and sing.”

As an actor, he portrayed punk star Iggy Pop in a 2013 feature film, “CBGB,” about an influential New York music club, and appeared in a recent fictional Foo Fighters horror film, “Studio 666”.

In 2001, Mr Hawkins overdosed on drugs while the Foo Fighters were on tour in England and was in a coma for around two weeks.

“Everyone has their own path, and I’ve gone too far,” he told Kerrang, a music website, last year. “I’m not here to preach about not using drugs because I loved using drugs, but I just got out of control for a while and it almost got me.”

Survivors include his wife since 2005, the former Alison Williams, and their three children. A full list of survivors could not be confirmed.

When the Foo Fighters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, they were celebrated for their “rock authenticity…unbelievable guitar riffs, monstrous drumming and boundless energy.”

During the induction ceremony, Mr. Hawkins said to Grohl, “Thank you for letting me be part of your group.”

Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes