A tribute to Taylor Hawkins: Leaving behind a legacy of rock
Spirit of Foo Fighters' drummer 'will live on with all of us forever'
"Tearing through the room like an F5 tornado of hyperactive joy was Taylor Hawkins, my brother from another mother, my best friend, a man from whom I would take a bullet," Dave Grohl wrote of bandmate Taylor Hawkins in his memoir “The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music.”
“I am not afraid to say that our chance meeting was a kind of love at first sight, igniting a musical ‘twin flame’ that still burns to this day,” Grohl wrote. “Together, we have become an unstoppable duo, onstage and off, in pursuit of any and all adventure we can find."
Grohl isn’t the only person who has such endearments toward Hawkins, and hundreds of other tributes have come out following the news of Hawkins’ death on March 25.
“The Foo Fighters family is devastated by the tragic and untimely loss of our beloved Taylor Hawkins,” the band posted in an Instagram statement on March 26. “His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever.”
Though Hawkins was only 50 at the time of his death, he led a life filled with spirit and musical achievement. From 1995 to 1997, Hawkins played as the drummer for Alanis Morissette’s band during her "Can’t Not” tour and appeared in some of her music videos for the Jagged Little Pill era. Following his time with Morissette, Hawkins joined the Foo Fighters in 1997 after the departure of former drummer William Goldsmith.
While Hawkins saw initial success with Morissette, it was his career with the Foo Fighters alongside Grohl, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Rami Jaffee and Pat Smear that solidified him as one of Rock’s most influential drummers of the last 20 years.
Following the success of their 1997 album “The Colour and the Shape,” songs like “Everlong,” “My Hero” and “Monkey Wrench” became some of the group’s most popular tracks to date. They were further highlighted by Hawkins’ unmistakably ferocious, yet precise sound behind the drum kit on tour and afterward, and gave the 25-year-old drummer his first opportunity to bask in the spotlight of global success.
However, Hawkins’ success and talent behind the drums did not plateau at the release of “The Colour and the Shape.” The Foo Fighters would go on to release two more albums: “There Is Nothing Left to Lose” in 1999 and “One By One” in 2002. Both albums, while not as commercially successful as “The Colour and the Shape,” were still well-regarded and further solidified a loyal fanbase with growing recognition and accolades across the music industry.
Hawkins made his first appearance on a full-length Foo Fighters project with “There is Nothing Left to Lose.” While the record is seen as somewhat of a departure from their previous two studio albums, placing emphasis on melody and songwriting, it won the Grammy for “Best Rock Album” in 2001, marking the Foo’s first Grammy win and became regarded as some of their best work as a band. Hawkins stood out on tracks such as “Next Year” and “Learn to Fly” from the 1999 project, as well as “Times Like These” and “All My Life” from the “One by One” record.
As for more recent works, Hawkins came to life on the Foo’s electrifying 2021 album “Medicine at Midnight,” which won all three awards it was nominated for at this year’s Grammys. Though the album itself only consists of nine songs, Hawkins shows his passion and versatility in each, from faster and more hard-hitting tracks like “Cloudspotter” to slower and more ballad-like tunes in “Chasing Birds.”
“I think we have a pretty damn loyal fan base, and they always give us a shot every time,” Hawkins said in a radio interview regarding the album’s release, “And at a time when everybody’s just having a hard time … maybe give some light and joy to some people just through music.”
While Hawkins’ legacy may revolve around the drum kit, it’s his passion for music and his love of life that friends, family and fans have remembered the most.
“We are absolutely meant to be,” Grohl writes in “The Storyteller.” “I am grateful that we found each other in this lifetime.”