The late Taylor Hawkins was an in-demand drummer, and almost every group on the planet would have felt more comfortable with him standing behind them — including the behemoth that is Guns N’ Roses.
Hawkins always humbly said that if it wasn’t for him getting his big break with Alanis Morrisette, he’d “be delivering pizza”. However, if truth be told, the drummer’s talent was always going to take him to the top, and once he got his big break on Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill tour, he was inundated with tempting offers.
Dave Grohl and Hawkins hit it off immediately when they first met backstage during one of the shows on Morrisette’s tour. They soon discussed the vacant drumming spot in Foo Fighters, and Hawkins was thrilled to fulfil the role.
His first tour with the group was in support of their 1997 album, The Colour and The Shape, and Hawkins soon became an integral cog in the Foo Fighters machine. Although, for a moment in 2000, he was briefly tempted to turn his back on the band before Roger Taylor from Queen talked him out of leaving the Foo’s.
At this point, Foo Fighters were still on the upward trajectory and had yet to confirm themselves as a stadium-filling outfit, unlike Guns N’ Roses. Understandably, Hawkins considered the lucrative offer to join the group before he thankfully had second thoughts.
During a conversation with Louder Sound in 2019, he recalled: “Axl [Rose] was trying to get together a new version of Guns N’ Roses, and I think he was checking around for people. They wanted to know if I would come in and try out or whatever. It was kind of otherworldly.”
The original line-up for the group had dissipated by 1997, and Guns N’ Roses had become a quasi solo venture for Axl Rose. Their drummer, Josh Freese, had only lasted three years, and following his departure, Rose wanted to replace him with Hawkins. Fascinatingly, he almost got his man too.
Hawkins was deliberating over whether to accept the offer, but a conversation with Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor would be decisive. He continued: “He said, ‘I see you and Dave onstage and there’s something you can’t buy there. There’s something between you guys that might not be there with Axl Rose.’ And he was right.”
The drummer added: “For all our trials and tribulations, Dave [Grohl] is like a brother. When we walk out on stage, every time we nod and look at each other and go, ‘Alright, here we go.’ We’re getting in the ring together.”
Although it would have been easy for Hawkins to have been short-sighted and joined Guns N’ Roses, he knew there was something special brewing in his heart. If he did leave the band, it would have been a decision the drummer regretted for the rest of his days.