Emotional farewell to Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, everyone’s friend in the music world

It’s times like these you learn to love again”, you heard Dave Grohl sobbing softly at ten o’clock in the evening. Those words seemed straight from the heart more than ever. The frontman could no longer hold back his tears.

At the beginning of the evening you already got the hint that Grohl would sooner or later break on stage. His voice already wavered as he introduced the tribute to his buddy Taylor Hawkins as “a gigantic fuckin’ night for a gigantic fuckin’ person”. In that fragile speech, he also admitted that “no one but Taylor could make you laugh, dance or sing. So sing and dance and laugh and cry and fuckin’ shout so loud he can hear us.” Before you suspect us of using the ‘F-bomb’ for free: that expletive was used on stage even more frequently than the name of the dear deceased.

Love and friendship were other words that would be generous in any speech. Taylor Hawkins was everyone’s friend in the music world, and you could tell that from the impressive guest list alone. For example, the first of two evenings had a line-up with members of Queen, Oasis, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Queens of the Stone Age. Sir Paul McCartney then performed as a surprise act. And in between, celebrities like Billie Eilish, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks and members of Guns N’ Roses were allowed to profess their love for the late drummer in a pre-recorded video.

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins and vocalist Dave Grohl took the stage earlier this year, just weeks before Hawkins’ death in March.Image AFP

The sold-out concert at Wembley Stadium in London marked the band’s first performance without Taylor Hawkins. The drummer died in March at the age of 50. Then he was found dead in a hotel room in Colombia, where the Foo Fighters were on tour. To date, the cause of death is unknown. Opioids, marijuana and antidepressants were found in his body. It is not certain that those drugs also led to his death, but Hawkins has struggled with serious addiction in the past. That led to a near-fatal heroin overdose in 2001, after which he was in a coma for two weeks.

The charismatic drummer had the biggest pearly smile in rock ‘n’ roll, but his skull also harbored a lot of demons. At Wembley, however, the focus was only on his close friendships, passion for music and love for his family. There was room for sadness, but more so for joy, appreciation and adoration from a musician with whom just about everyone seemed to be in a bromance. The drummer was even solemnly described during the evening as ‘rock reverend‘. It became so after a beatification: so often fellow artists stumbled over compliments, praise and appreciation.

Celebrity Drum Relay

At Wembley you also witnessed a celebrity drumrelay, in which Travis Barker of Blink-182, session legend Josh Freese, viral sensation Nandi Bushell, Roger Taylor of Queen, Stewart Copeland of The Police, Lars Ulrich of Metallica and the unlikely Bowie drummer Omar Hakim passed the sticks together. “If you could only see how many fuckin’ drum kits are in the wings,” Grohl chuckled. “It’s like your local music store.”

But above all, this tribute was a family affair. For example, Hawkins’ sixteen-year-old son Shane convincingly replaced his father during ‘My Hero’. Dave Grohl’s daughter Violet was also invited to perform, with covers by Jeff Buckley and the version of ‘Valerie’ by Amy Winehouse. Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age was then briefly joined by his son, after he modified Elton John’s ‘Yellow Brick Road’.

Even more remarkable was the arrival of Rufus Taylor, son of Queen drummer Roger. He made a superior turn during Foo Fighters’ ‘One of These Days’ and ‘Best of You’. He was emphatically presented by Grohl as “someone of the Foo Family,” which raised the suspicion of imminent adoption. Did the Fighters secretly hold open auditions on stage? A string of talented drummers passed by, but with Rufus – who plays in The Darkness today – they could actually hire a doppelgänger from Taylor Hawkins. Not only do the two share name and blond surfer look, this Taylor also gave the skins a pando with the same obsession bordering on Dionysian madness of Hawkins.

The remaining Foo Fighters during their tribute to Hawkins in London.image rv (youtube)

Grohl once again battled the Waterlanders when he wondered what Taylor would have thought of an evening filled with his heroes Rush, Van Halen, Stewart Copeland and Queen. It was no coincidence that the latter group was given a place of honor in the line-up. Guitarist Brian May looked back with ‘Love Of My Life’ at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert that took place at the same location thirty years ago. “We said goodbye to Freddie in 1992 with this song,” he said. “But I’m sure he would have been very happy to use this song to honor Taylor.”

Queen was the first group Hawkins ever saw live when he was ten. During Foo Fighters concerts, he often smuggled an ode to Queen into the set. What’s more, “Somebody to Love” was the very last song he played live, at a show in Argentina earlier this year.

Before he pulled out of the show with a stripped-down version of “Everlong,” Grohl hoped we’d felt the love of all the performers on stage. “Because we felt it from you too, all the love to Taylor tonight.”

The article is in Dutch

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