A Supernova Drummer Who Never Took His Place For Granted.
Many Canadians got their first glimpse of this stereotypically Southern Californian drummer behind the kit with Sass Jordan. At the age of 22, his kilowatt smile and blonde hair graced the throne behind the Quebec rock goddess as they toured Europe and North America.
As Sass wound down her touring career, Hawkins won the seat in Alanis Morisette’s band and became known to millions. Playing with Alanis from 1995 to 1997, he tasted star-powered fame and toured the entire world.
While he found his career and a place on the big stage, it wasn’t until he heard the Foo Fighters’ debut album that he found his forever band. Having become friendly with Dave Grohl presumably on the festival circuit with Alanis, she asked him what he was going to do when he was asked to join the band. He shrugged the question off as they already had a drummer, but fate would intervene. As the band was in the studio recording their second album, Grohl wasn’t pleased with the results their current dummer was acheiving in that sterile environment. Knowing that album two on top of middling success was a make or break moment for the Foos, he made a hard decision. The story is lore of how Dave rerecorded all the drum parts, after which original drummer, William Goldsmith left the band. Needing a drummer for the supporting tour and despite playing with one of the biggest artists of the day, Hawkins offered himself as the band’s new drummer when asked by Grohl for a recommendation. He cited wanting to be a member of a band and not just backing up a solo artist. The connection the two found yukking it up backstage led to an immediate musical one in the band. Hawkins, in an amazing interview and drum lesson with the BBC’s Steve Lamacq, admitted that he too fell into collapse under the pressure of recording with Grohl on his first album attempts for the band’s third effort, There Is Nothing Left to Lose. Urged on by Grohl, Hawkins played on half the album and found the confidence and ability to play on every recorded FF song that followed.
From here, the future of the band aimed skyward as the natural chemistry between Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins elevated the band muscially. As each tour became bigger and the profile of the band increased, there was that blonde mop beside Grohl. Despite accolades from his heroes and larger stages, Hawkins’ feet never left the ground and he never seemed to take his place for granted. Often as an interview duo with Dave Grohl, they projected the humour that seemed everflowing in the band. Their music videos became studies in silliness which they dragged into activism, famously trolling the Westboro Baptist Church. Hawkins was a singer and a songwriter in addition to the Foos’ drummer. He released albums with other projects, more recently with Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney as NHC. He got heavy with The Birds of Satan and showed his love of 70s rock and pop with his three Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders albums.
His unabashed love of pop music reminded the rest of us that there was no such thing as a guilty pleasure when it came to music. There’s no doubt that this love was the reason for the Foo Fighters’ Hail Satin Record Story Day release covering five Bee Gees songs. Speaking of love, apart from millions of fans around the world, Hawkins was loved most by his wife Allison and his three children, Oliver, Annabelle and Everleigh. He said his family was his inspiration and he showed it by writing songs like I Really Blew It and Middle Child about them for solo albums. His peers also held him in the highest regard with dozens of social media messages of condolence coming from a vast amount of rock stars too long to list.
For an artist who did a fair bit of talking on camera, he spoke with more gravitas behind the kit and singing into the mic. Through power and precision, with seeming ease and ability, Taylor Hawkins left his greatest mark on rock music. So, it’s fitting to say our goodbye and farewell just as he did. While you can, watch Hawkins’ final performance with the Foo Fighters, just days before his sad and untimely passing.
Onward to what’s next, Taylor.
Our only wish is that your next lifetime is spent with Bowie, Mercury and Peart.
Gone, never, ever forgotten.
Header image used under Creative Commons, shot by Raph PH