The passing of celebrities or musicians rarely guts me to the point of shedding tears. And even though I didn’t know Taylor Hawkins, I knew him.
It’s the same Taylor Hawkins who, although born in Texas, developed his love for classic rock right here in Southern California by going digging at local record stores.
The same one who played with Foo Fighters at Fingerprints Music, a record store downtown where my love for vinyl was reignited after I bought a decent turntable.
It’s also the guy who we — me and my son — saw take the mic at the Foo Fighters show on August 26, 2021 and perform Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” something that’s become a tradition. It was during Taylor’s dialog that he said – pointing up to us in the cheap seats – he saw Rush and many others from those same seats at The Forum when he was young, but to his chagrin, not Queen.
This was our first FF show and even though it was delayed a month due to someone in their camp contracting COVID, they made good on their promise and came back. And after having quite possibly one of the worst months of my life, escaping from it all for a few hours was exactly what we needed.
It was also during this show that Hawkins stepped away from his set to let pint-sized drumming phenom Nandi Bushell take over during “Everlong,” their final song of the night. He sat quietly as she hit every beat with precision and power then, when finished, fist-bumped her and told her to throw her sticks into the crowd. When she whispered to him that she wanted to keep one (which she now has framed in her home), he nodded, smiled, and they walked off the stage together. Truly a moment I’ll never forget. It was an absolutely electric evening.
Little did we know that this would be our first and only time we would see Hawkins ferociously bang out beats for over two hours. You would be hard pressed to find anybody who had something negative to say about Hawkins as was evident by the outpouring of tributes from musicians ranging from Tom Morello to Elton John to Stevie Nicks. Impressive drummer, yes. But also a decent human.
Another example of this took place just days before his passing. The Foo Fighters’ show in Paraguay on March 22 was canceled due to severe weather, but one young drummer set up outside the hotel where the band was staying and drew quite the crowd.
One of them: Taylor Hawkins, who apologized to the fans for the cancellation then watched Emma Sofia play Nirvana and Foo Fighters songs. He also posed for a picture with her.
While I feel for everyone who knew him personally, I also ache for Dave Grohl who also dealt with losing Kurt Cobain back in 1994. In his recently published memoirs, he referred to Hawkins as his “brother from another mother, my best friend, a man for whom I would take a bullet,” and the mutual respect and admiration for each other was never more evident than at their final show, where Grohl lavished so much praise on Hawkins – then made fun of his tiger-print spandex pants. Hawkins then returned the favor and spoke highly of Grohl.
This is what makes Hawkins’ passing so difficult to handle: a monster behind the drums and a dude you could have a beer with and talk about music all night, suddenly gone. The backbone of the rock and roll band that managed to make me smile during a month of crappy occurrences, and a guy who remembers seeing his favorite bands from high above in the colonnade section at The Forum.
No, I didn’t know Taylor Hawkins – but I knew him.
Rest In Peace, from the guy who took his son to see Foo Fighters last August from Section 232, Row 11, Seats 17-18.
He would know exactly where we were.