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Taylor Hawkins: Taylor Hawkins: Foo Fighters drummer dies aged 50

 

Taylor Hawkins: Foo Fighters drummer dies aged 50

t’s hard to imagine a more daunting gig in rock than taking the drumstool in an exceedingly group fronted by Dave Grohl, widely celebrated because the best drummer of his generation. That gig would have seemed all the more daunting, considering Foo Fighters’ previous drummer, William Goldsmith, had exited after Grohl rerecorded the drums for the group’s troubled second album, the colour and also the form, believing Goldsmith’s contributions not up to scratch.
That Taylor Hawkins chose to grab this seemingly poisoned chalice regardless spoke to his confidence in his own drumming, but also the strength of the bond he’d already built with Grohl.
Hawkins would hold to that drumstool for 25 years, until his untimely death on Friday, treasured by the Foos’ loyal fans for his skills as a drummer and songwriter, his abundant ebullience onstage and in music videos, and his obvious affectionate kinship with Grohl.
Texas-born, California-raised Hawkins was playing drums for Alanis Morissette when he first crossed paths with Grohl in 1996. Both Hawkins and Grohl were spending that summer playing festivals in Europe; Morissette was considerably the more successful artist then, her breakthrough, Jagged Little Pill, the year’s best-selling album, having shifted a staggering 18m copies worldwide. Still, Hawkins was intimidated when he first met Grohl. “Nirvana were my favourite band within the planet at that time,” Hawkins told me in 2005, “and i accustomed be convinced Dave would think i accustomed be a dork. But he came up and introduced himself to me, and was really complimentary, just a extremely nice cat.

“Everybody tells us we’re like brothers, but we’re actually very different – but we had a similar energy, to not sound variety of a fucking hippie.” Grohl, meanwhile, recalled that his first impression of Hawkins was “this fuckin’ crazy partying surfer. Which was absolutely correct.”
The following year, after Goldsmith’s exit from the Foos, Hawkins reached intent on Grohl. “I’d read which can was quitting Foo Fighters, or being fired or whatever,” Hawkins told me later. “I got hold of Dave and told him: ‘Yo, I heard you’re trying to seek out a drummer.’ And he said: ‘Yeah, you recognize anybody?’ Cocksucker! He made me ask [for the job] ... Actually, since Alanis was one all told the foremost important artists within the globe at the time, and Foo Fighters were still just kinda starting out, he thought: ‘Why would you'd wish to bail on someone who’s selling 30m records?’ But I wanted to play rock, which i loved the Foo Fighters – they were my favourite band.”
Hawkins made his studio debut with Foo Fighters’ third album, 1999’s there's Nothing Left To Lose, recorded as a bare trio of Grohl, Hawkins and bassist Nate Mendel within the basement of a house in Virginia, Grohl trying to exorcise the bruising experience of making the colour and so the form. In Hawkins, Grohl found a kindred spirit: able to hold his own on the drumkit and match Grohl’s pulverising, disciplined and never showy style, sharing Grohl’s passion for then-unfashionable classic and heavy rock influences, and with a joyous nature that bore the group aloft in moments of tension.
Grohl himself had always seemed the goofy, sunshine element amid the darkness of his previous group, Nirvana. Now, in Hawkins, he’d located his own Dave Grohl figure for Foo Fighters. “Taylor which i are like brothers,” he said, years later. “The two people are best friends. you only find such an enormous amount of best friends during a lifetime. Taylor which i aroused being separated at birth.”
There Is Nothing Left To Lose struck a perfect balance between Grohl’s native grungy instincts and his love for melodic rock; it remains Foo Fighters’ finest album, and surely the injection of positivity that came with Hawkins’ arrival on the drum stool was a key element.
Bands are hostages to precarious, volatile chemistry, and for all their lovable public image and abundant bonhomie, Foo Fighters are as subject to internal ructions as any. But Hawkins’ giddy presence had always seemed a balming influence, because the group enjoyed subsequent commercial success and pursued ambitious projects like their acoustic/electric double album, 2005’s In Your Honor, or their documentary series/album Sonic Highways, or, indeed, their recently released horror movie, Studio 666.
Hawkins and Grohl’s unique connection electrified Foo Fighters’ live performances, with Hawkins telling one interviewer that the duo would “get into these battles live, guitar versus drums and Dave’s virtually playing drums on the guitar ... which i value more highly to sing a touch bit and he can return on the drums and remember what real toil is then return ahead.”
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine Foo Fighters without Hawkins’ high-spirited presence. When, in August 2001, Hawkins overdosed in heroin, Grohl sat by the drummer’s bedside while he remained in an exceedingly coma for a fortnight. Grohl later told biographer Paul Brannigan that those weeks were “the first time in my life that I ever considered quitting music. Because i wont to be wondering if music just equalled death. I didn’t want to undertake and do music if most are just gonna die all the time. i accustomed be out of my mind, i accustomed be so frightened, and heartbroken and confused. which i said to everyone: ‘I don’t even wanna hear the word Foo Fighters until I’m able to say it again.’”
Hawkins recovered, and later described the experience in terms of a warning sign as regards his hard-partying ways. Grohl, meanwhile, realised he needed to stretch his wings beyond Foo Fighters, occurring to pursue his all-star metal project Probot and playing drums with Queens Of The period, among other extra-curricular activities.
And while Foo Fighters soon reunited, Hawkins also began to explore other avenues. The three albums he recorded as Taylor Hawkins and thus the Coattail Riders side-project – which he described to me as “a bit of a piss-take, as you British say”, though it’s clear it had been more heartfelt than that – allowed him to indulge his classic rock fantasies, and showcase his gifts as a singer-songwriter, which Foo Fighters fans had glimpsed on Cold Day within the Sun, the Tom Petty-esque soft-rocker he wrote and sang for In Your Honor.
The Coattail Riders’ three albums featured appearances from luminaries like Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen, Chrissie Hynde, Nancy Wilson of Heart, Sex Pistol Steve Jones and James Gang’s Joe Walsh. Hawkins also fronted another group, the much heavier The Birds Of Satan, which grew out of his heavy rock covers band, Chevy Metal.
But Hawkins’ true allegiance was always to Foo Fighters. Just over per week ago, 18 March, marked the 25th anniversary of the announcement of his joining the group. On Friday night, Foo Fighters were purported to be headlining the opening of the Estéreo Picnic festival in Bogotá, Colombia. In their place, the organisers played a message reading “Taylor Hawkins Por Siempre” over the video screens, as fans sang along to Foo Fighters’ 1996 anthem My Hero. The void left by Hawkins’ passing are visiting be profound.

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