Just a week after the tragic death of Taylor Hawkins, the talents of the Foo Fighter drummer has been recognised at the 2022 Grammy Awards. The ceremony saw Foo Fighters claim trophies for Best Rock Album with Medicine at Midnight, Best Rock Performance with ‘Making A Fire, and Best Rock Song with ‘Waiting on a War’.
The group’s success at this year’s ceremony served as a reminder of just how important Hawkins has been to Foo Fighters since he joined the group back in 1997. Hawkins was asked to enter the fold by Dave Grohl following the departure of the group’s original drummer, William Goldsmith. Before joining the band, Hawkins was drumming for Alanis Morissette on her Jagged Little Pill and Can’t Not Tour, while also offering up his services to the progressive experimental band Sylvia.
Looking to source a new drummer after his relationship with Goldsmith became unworkable, Grohl called up Hawkins – who he’d been introduced to on a camping holiday in the Ozarks – for some recommendations. Hawkins, bold as brass, volunteered himself, joining the band just in time for the release The Colour and the Shape. During his time with Foo Fighters, Hawkins has helped craft some of the group’s most iconic tracks.
While Dave Grohl once described ‘Learn To Fly’ as “one of his least favourite songs” from 1999’s There Is Nothing Left To Lose, the track is a firm fan favourite, especially among drummers. Hawkins’ quietly uplifting drums give ‘Learn To Fly’ the soaring momentum that underpins Grohl’s slick alt-rock riffs.
Back in July 2015, 1,000 drummers, vocalists and guitarists from Cesena, Italy, filmed a video of themselves singing and playing the song in unison in an attempt to get Foo Fighters to come and play a gig in the area. When the clip went viral, it caught the attention of Dave Grohl and his bandmates, who quickly agreed to take their live show to Cesena.
This solo drum version of ‘Learn To Fly’ wasn’t isolated in the traditional sense – instead, the drum tracks were sourced from the original multitrack recordings of the Foo Fighters’ 1999 studio session and uploaded in an unedited form. Those of you with very sensitive ears will notice that the last choruses sound slightly different to those on the final version, either because the band’s producer spliced it with a section from another take or because this is not the take that Foo Fighters used for the master recording.