Taylor Hawkins

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Taylor Hawkins
Hawkins performing with Foo Fighters in 2017
Hawkins performing with Foo Fighters in 2017
Background information
Birth nameOliver Taylor Hawkins
Born(1972-02-17)February 17, 1972
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
OriginLaguna Beach, California, U.S.
DiedMarch 25, 2022(2022-03-25) (aged 50)
Bogotá, Colombia
Genres
Occupation(s)Musician
Instrument(s)
  • Drums
  • percussion
  • vocals
Years active1994–2022
Labels
Formerly of

Oliver Taylor Hawkins (February 17, 1972 – March 25, 2022) was an American musician, best known as the drummer of the rock band Foo Fighters, with whom he recorded eight studio albums between 1999 and 2021. Before joining the band in 1997, he was the touring drummer for Sass Jordan and for Alanis Morissette, as well as the drummer in the progressive experimental band Sylvia.

In 2004, Hawkins formed his own side project, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, in which he played drums and sang, releasing three studio albums between 2006 and 2019. He formed the supergroup NHC with Jane's Addiction members Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney in 2020, where he also took on lead vocal and drumming duties.[1]

Hawkins was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021 as a member of Foo Fighters. He was voted "Best Rock Drummer" in 2005 by the British drumming magazine Rhythm. He died at the age of 50 on March 25, 2022, in Bogotá, Colombia.

Early life[edit]

Oliver Taylor Hawkins was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on February 17, 1972.[2][3] His family moved to Laguna Beach, California, in 1976, where Hawkins grew up.[3] Hawkins was the youngest of three, with an older brother and sister, Jason and Heather.[4] He graduated from Laguna Beach High School in 1990,[5] where he had been friends with current Yes lead vocalist Jon Davison.[6]

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Hawkins played in the Orange County-based band Sylvia before he became the drummer for Sass Jordan.[7]

From June 1995 until March 1997, Hawkins was Alanis Morissette's drummer on the tour supporting Jagged Little Pill and her Can't Not tour. He appeared in the videos for "You Oughta Know", "All I Really Want", and "You Learn". He also appeared on Morissette's VHS/DVD Jagged Little Pill, Live (1997).[8]

Foo Fighters[edit]

Hawkins singing during a Foo Fighters concert in 2018

After touring through the spring of 1996, Foo Fighters entered a Seattle studio with producer Gil Norton to record their second album.[9] Conflict during recording reportedly erupted between Dave Grohl and drummer William Goldsmith, eventually causing Goldsmith to leave the band.[10] The band regrouped in Los Angeles and almost completely re-recorded the album with Grohl on drums.[9] The album, The Colour and the Shape, was released on May 20, 1997.[11] Grohl called Hawkins, an acquaintance at the time, seeking his recommendations for a new drummer to join the band.[12] Grohl was under the impression that Hawkins would not leave Morissette's touring band, given she was a bigger act than Foo Fighters at the time.[12] To Grohl's surprise, however, Hawkins volunteered to join the band himself, explaining that he wanted to be a drummer in a rock band rather than for a solo act.[12] The band announced Hawkins would be its new drummer on March 18, 1997.[13] Hawkins first appeared with the Foo Fighters in the music video for the 1997 single "Monkey Wrench", although the song was recorded before he joined the band.[14]

In addition to his drumming with the Foo Fighters, Hawkins also provided vocals, guitar, and piano to various recordings. He performed the lead vocal on a cover of Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar".[15] Two versions of the song were released, one as the B-side to "Learn to Fly" and another on the Mission: Impossible 2 soundtrack album. He later sang lead vocals on "Cold Day in the Sun" from In Your Honor, which was later released as a single, as well as a cover of Cream's "I Feel Free", which appeared as the B-side of "DOA" and on the EP Five Songs and a Cover. Hawkins also sang lead vocals for the band's cover of Joe Walsh's "Life of Illusion".[16] Later, he sang lead vocals for "Sunday Rain", a track on the Foo Fighters' 2017 album Concrete and Gold.[17] He sang lead vocals on some songs during Foo Fighters live shows, such as a cover of Queen's "Somebody To Love" on his last concert with the band.[18] He also contributed to the band's songwriting, and was listed as a co-writer on every album since There Is Nothing Left to Lose.[19]

Hawkins' final performance with the Foo Fighters before his death was at the Lollapalooza Argentina festival on March 20, 2022.[20] Hawkins posthumously won three Grammys with the Foo Fighters on April 3, 2022.[21]

Other projects[edit]

Hawkins playing with the Foo Fighters in Austin, Texas, in 2011

In 2006, Hawkins released a self-titled LP with his side project, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders.[22] Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders subsequently released two more studio albums: Red Light Fever in 2010, and Get the Money in 2019.[23][24] He occasionally played with a Police cover band alternately called "The Cops" and "Fallout". At Live Earth in 2007, Hawkins was part of SOS Allstars with Roger Taylor of Queen and Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers.[25]

Hawkins recorded the drum tracks for the Coheed and Cambria album Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow as the band's regular drummer, Chris Pennie, could not record because of contractual reasons. Hawkins also toured with Coheed and Cambria shortly during the months of the album. Hawkins can also be heard drumming on Eric Avery's (formerly of Jane's Addiction) first solo effort, Help Wanted and on Kerry Ellis's album, Wicked in Rock. Hawkins and Grohl split drumming duties on Harmony & Dissidence, the third album by Foo Fighters bandmate Chris Shiflett's own side project, Jackson United.[26]

Hawkins played on the track "Cyborg", from Queen guitarist Brian May's 1998 solo album, Another World; he also played drums at VH1's Rock Honors 2006 while Queen performed "We Will Rock You". He sang backing vocals on the Queen + Paul Rodgers single, "C-lebrity".[27]

Hawkins was commissioned to complete an unfinished recording of a song by Beach Boys' drummer Dennis Wilson titled "Holy Man" by writing and singing new lyrics. The recording, which also featured contributions from Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen, was issued as a single for Record Store Day in 2019.[28]

While the Foo Fighters were on break in 2013, Hawkins formed a rock cover band called Chevy Metal.[29]

Hawkins in 2012

Hawkins appeared on Slash's solo album Slash,[30] released in 2010, providing backing vocals on the track "Crucify the Dead", featuring Ozzy Osbourne.

In 2013, he made his acting debut in the role of Iggy Pop in the rock film CBGB.[31] Hawkins recorded the drums on Vasco Rossi's last song, "L'uomo più semplice". This song was released on January 21, 2013, in Italy.[32][33]

In March 2014, Hawkins announced his new side project called The Birds of Satan. It features Hawkins's drum technician and bandmate from Chevy Metal, Wiley Hodgden on bass guitar and vocals as well as guitarist Mick Murphy also of Chevy Metal. The band's self-titled debut album was released in April 2014, with a release party at 'Rock n Roll Pizza' featuring the Foo Fighters guesting on some of the cover tracks.[34]

In an interview with Radio X, Hawkins revealed that his initial idea with his solo projects was to duet with female singers.[35]

Hawkins invited other stars to sing in the Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders album Get the Money, such as LeAnn Rimes, who sang on one of his songs titled "C U In Hell".[36] Loudwire named the album one of the 50 best rock efforts of 2019.[37] Other musicians who appeared on his projects included Roger Taylor, Brian May, Dave Grohl, Nancy Wilson, Joe Walsh, Chrissie Hynde, and many more.[38]

In October 2021 Elton John released The Lockdown Sessions, which featured Hawkins playing drums on the song "E-Ticket".[39]

In 2021, Hawkins and Jane's Addiction members Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney formed a supergroup called NHC.[1] Described by Hawkins as being "somewhere between Rush and the Faces", the band made its live debut in September 2021 at Eddie Vedder's Ohana festival, with Taylor's Foo Fighters bandmate Pat Smear on additional guitar.[1] The band recorded an album in 2021, which is due for release in 2022.

Along with the other members of Foo Fighters, Hawkins starred as himself in the comedy horror film Studio 666, released on February 25, 2022.[40] He posthumously appears on select tracks on Ozzy Osbourne's 2022 album Patient Number 9.

Influences[edit]

Hawkins performing in 2018

Hawkins said that his drumming was chiefly influenced by classic rock drummers, including Phil Collins of Genesis,[41] Stewart Copeland of The Police[41] whom he idolized and eventually befriended,[42] Budgie of Siouxsie and the Banshees,[43] Roger Taylor of Queen,[41] Stephen Perkins of Jane's Addiction,[41] Ringo Starr of The Beatles, Jim Gordon of Derek and the Dominos,[41] Neil Peart of Rush,[44] and Alex Van Halen of Van Halen.[45][46]

Hawkins was once guest editor of Rhythm and interviewed Collins, Copeland, Taylor, and Perkins for the issue.[41]

It was thanks to Rush that I got into Genesis. After listening to Neil, I bought the Seconds Out live album, which was released in 1977. It's just amazing. Not only hearing Phil Collins playing the drums, but also singing. He gets a really bad rap from some people for 'daring' to take over after Peter Gabriel quit, but you just hear the way he sounds here. The beauty of this album is that it's got songs from ...Trick of the Tail, the first album Genesis did without Gabriel. Collins is an incredible drummer. Anyone who wants to be good on the drums should check him out – the man is a master.[44]

Hawkins's first two major inspirations were Roger Taylor and Stewart Copeland. He reported that listening to these two drummers' different styles showed him a wide spectrum of drumming style. He also mentioned that he would play along with songs on the radio or records, like Queen's News of the World, to enhance his skills when he was young.[47][48]

Personal life[edit]

Hawkins and his wife, Alison, married in 2005.[49] Together they have three children.[50] They lived in Hidden Hills, California, after moving from Topanga Canyon in 2012.[51]

Hawkins overdosed on heroin in August 2001, which left him in a coma for two weeks.[52] Hawkins' bandmate and best friend,[53] Dave Grohl, was beside his hospital bed in London for two weeks until he woke up.[54] Grohl said he was ready to quit music while Hawkins was in the hospital.[54] He also revealed in the 2011 documentary Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, that he wrote the song "On the Mend" from the band's 2005's album In Your Honor, about Hawkins while he was in a coma.[55] Speaking to Beats 1 host Matt Wilkinson in 2018 about the incident, Hawkins said: "I was partying a lot. I wasn't a junkie, per se, but I was partying. There was a year where the partying just got a little too heavy. Thank God on some level this guy gave me the wrong line with the wrong thing one night and I woke up going, 'What the fuck happened?' That was a real changing point for me." In the same interview, Hawkins also said he was sober.[56]

Hawkins suffered from stage fright.[57][58] Speaking about his health in a June 2021 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Hawkins said; "I'm healthy. I'm good... I get sinus infections really bad. And I just found out from my doctor, got all my blood tests and my heart everything checked and he goes, 'Dude, you're in amazing shape. Your heart's big, because you exercise a lot. It's like a runner's heart.' And that's fine. The only thing is, he said, 'I think you have sleep apnea.' And my wife's always saying you snore and you fucking make weird noises while you're sleeping and stuff."[58]

Death[edit]

Memorial outside the Four Seasons Casa Medina hotel, Bogotá, two days after Hawkins died there

On March 25, 2022, emergency services were called to the Four Seasons Casa Medina hotel in Bogotá, Colombia, where Hawkins was suffering from chest pain in his hotel room.[59] Health personnel arrived and found Hawkins unresponsive; they performed CPR, but he was declared dead at the scene, at the age of 50.[60][61] No cause of death was given.[62]

The following day, Colombian authorities announced that a preliminary urine toxicology test indicated that Hawkins had ten substances in his system at the time of his death, including opioids, benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, and THC.[63][64][65] Colombia's National Institute of Forensic Medicine stated that they would "continue the medical studies to achieve total clarification of the events that led to the death of Taylor Hawkins", and the attorney general's office would continue to investigate his cause of death in a "timely manner".[64]

An article in Rolling Stone from May 2022 presented the case that Hawkins was suffering from extreme exhaustion in the period leading up to his death.[66] However, two of the interviewees, Chad Smith and Matt Cameron, have since disavowed the article stating that they were quoted out of context and that their comments were misrepresented.[67]

Tributes[edit]

The Foo Fighters announced the death of Hawkins in a Twitter statement on March 25, writing that "His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever."[62] On March 29, the band cancelled all their upcoming shows.[68]

On the night of his death, Hawkins was scheduled to perform with the Foo Fighters at the Estéreo Picnic Festival in Bogotá as part of their ongoing South American tour.[50] The festival stage was turned into a candlelight vigil for Hawkins.[69]

Miley Cyrus, who had worked with Hawkins on her 2020 album, Plastic Hearts, dedicated her Brazil's Lollapalooza performance to him.[70] Liam Gallagher, a longtime friend of Hawkins, dedicated "Live Forever" to him at his London concert for Teenage Cancer Trust the day after his death, describing him as a "brother" and "a fucking joy".[71] Elton John, who had worked with Hawkins on his album, The Lockdown Sessions, dedicated a performance of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" to him.[72] At his investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle, Queen drummer Roger Taylor dedicated his OBE to Hawkins, describing him as "sunshine in human form" and adding that he had been a mentor to his own son Rufus.[73] At the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival the Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer, Chad Smith, used a drum kit with “Taylor” written on it. At the end of their set, Smith made a speech dedicating their performance to Hawkins.[74] On April 3, 2022, the 64th Grammy Awards paid tribute to Hawkins with a brief montage of blended interviews and backstage home videos with live footage, ending in an audience singalong of the Foo Fighters' 1998 single "My Hero".[75] Billie Eilish paid tribute during her Grammys performance wearing an oversized T-shirt with a picture of Hawkins' face on the front and his last name in capital letters printed on the back.[76]

Tribute concerts[edit]

On June 8, 2022, the Foo Fighters and the family of Hawkins announced two shows in tribute to Hawkins.[77] The first show, played at Wembley Stadium in London, took place on September 3, 2022. The second, at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California, took place on September 27, 2022, and featured Hawkins' bandmates as well as numerous guest artists. The concert at Wembley Stadium was streamed live on YouTube and Paramount+, with a rerun being broadcast on CBS.[78] His son Oliver Shane Hawkins paid tribute to his father with the band during a performance of "My Hero" by taking on his father's role as drummer.

Discography[edit]

Source[79]

Alanis Morissette[edit]

Foo Fighters[edit]

Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders[edit]

Nighttime Boogie Association[edit]

  • Long In The Tooth/The Path We’re On (Single) (2020)

NHC[edit]

  • Feed The Cruel/Better Move On (Single) (2021)
  • Devil That You Know/Lazy Eyes (Single) (2021)
  • Intakes & Outtakes (EP) (2022)

The Birds of Satan[edit]

Coheed and Cambria[edit]

Solo[edit]

  • Taylor Hawkins (EP) (Recorded 1996; unreleased)
  • Kota (EP) (2016)[81]

Session appearances[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]