The world of music is reeling at the news of Taylor Hawkins’ shocking death. It was announced on the morning of March 25th, 2022, that the Foo Fighters drummer had passed away at the age of 50. As of the time of publishing, no cause of death has been revealed.
While no cause of death has yet been revealed, the band confirmed the news in a short statement. “The Foo Fighters family is devastated by the tragic and untimely loss of Taylor Hawkins,” it read. “His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever. Our hearts go out to his wife, children and family, and we ask that their privacy be treated with the utmost respect in this unimaginably difficult time.”
Taylor Hawkins could not have been more perfect in his role as Foo Fighters drummer. First and foremost, if you’re joining a band with Dave Grohl in it, you’ve got to have some monster chops to sit in and do it better than him. Hawkins has the power, stamina, and creativity that keeps Grohl strapped to his guitar, and that’s no easy feat.
But more than anything else, Hawkins has the amicable energy and goofball mentality that Grohl shares. It’s become a lot more obvious now that the Foos are starring in a horror-comedy and have released about a hundred comedic music videos, but humour plays a major part in keeping the band light, fun, and rocking. No one is more willing to indulge in the parade of good times than Hawkins is.
It didn’t explicitly have to be this way, however. Hawkins came from a completely different world than most of the other band members. Grohl, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear all cut their teeth as punk rock musicians, with Smear having them all beat thanks to his founding of the legendary Los Angeles punk band The Germs. But the other members are no slouches either: Mendel was the bassist for emo legends Sunny Day Real Estate (along with original Foos drummer William Goldsmith), Shiflett spent a number of years in No Use for a Name plus iconic supergroup jokesters Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and Grohl logged time in D.C. hardcore legends Scream, along with some other band called Nirvana.
By comparison, Hawkins was more indebted to the traditional ’70s rock that punk rock originally sought to destroy. Queen and Genesis were among Taylor’s influences, and while his bandmates were playing in dingy punk clubs, Hawkins was playing in weddings groups and cover bands. Hawkins’ break came when he was drafted to tour with Alanis Morissette to support Jagged Little Pill. While he instantly connected with Grohl and the vibe of the Foo Fighters, there was very little punk DNA in Hawkins.
That might be why one of Hawkins’ favourite Foo Fighters songs is a more mellow one: ‘Aurora’ from 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose. That record, Hawkins’ first with the band, was recorded as a trio with just Grohl, Mendel, and Hawkins, and its sound represented a departure for the group. While tracks like ‘Stacked Actors’ and ‘Breakout’ were the typical loud and heavy rock music, the back half of the record has more to do with new wave, folk, and even soft rock. According to Hawkins, that’s right in his sweet spot.
“I love that side of Dave,” Hawkins once told Matt Wilkinson on Apple Music. “I love it when Dave gets in his almost yacht rock softness in his voice and he double tracks his voice really nice.” The song also held personal resonance for Hawkins. “That was the first drum track that I ever did for the Foo Fighters that I was really, really proud of, because I only played half the drums on the ‘…Nothing Left To Lose’ record, because it was my first time in the studio and I was just… I didn’t know how to record.”
Adding: “Recording drums and playing live are just super different and the mistakes are polarised heavily, once you’re under the scrutiny of the microphones. You had to do it right.” Grohl also admitted that he “wasn’t done playing the drums”, and his need to put his own drums on record led to Goldsmith’s departure during the sessions for The Colour and the Shape. Evidently, Hawkins was more relaxed about Grohl stepping in, but these days Hawkins is the exclusive stickman for the Foos.
Hawkins also gave a second answer to what his favourite Foos track is, citing a song that was recorded before he joined the band. “I could also say the first time I heard ‘This Is A Call’ was the first time I heard the Foo Fighters and I wasn’t in the band yet,” Hawkins explained. “I was playing with Alanis and we were all in the van, traversing the Foo Fighters, playing all the same clubs as they were. I just wore that album out: ‘This Is A Call’ might be my favourite Foo Fighters song of all time, too.”
Check out both of Hawkins’ picks down below.