Like many music fans all over, I mourn the loss of one of the greatest musical talents, like so many, gone too soon. Being my age, a lot of bands that I grew up listening to over the years, have lost members, and of course, now that many of those bands have members with ages in the 70’s, it becomes anticipated.
Not since the assassination of John Lennon though, has a popular musician’s death, really had such a deep affect on me. Sure, the deaths of David Bowie, Prince, and so many others, made me sad, because for one, there was never going to be new music, and two, that meant the music that I enjoyed most, would never be replaced with anything as substantial or meaningful. Yes, I really have a hard time listening to today’s music and thinking, “yeah, this is going to have a lasting influence on the music world.” Sorry, too many of today’s musical acts are nothing but fads, phases, and the “act of the day” pushed by music companies looking to make a profit.
Taylor Hawkins, drummer and vocalist for the Foo Fighters, and other projects, died at the age of 50, just six years younger than me. The circumstances of his passing are still uncertain. At this time, just speculation. But I will tell you, fifty years old is too damn young to die. The news of a 911 call, with a complaint of chest pain, from a fifty year old, causes flash backs for me (a post upcoming soon on Paul’s Heart).
The Foo Fighters are one of my all-time favorite bands, so, being the music geek that I am, I delve into their history than most others who just listen to music for noise. It is one of the appreciations I have for the musicians in the band. I know the commitment they make to their craft. And while the main lead singer and guitarist/drummer Dave Grohl, Hawkins was commonly by his side.
To watch Hawkins play, you could only wonder where the Hell does he get the energy and stamina to play at the level of intensity that he does. But fans of the Foo Fighters know that Hawkins was more than just a drummer, he was an accomplished vocalist as well. He was known to cover Queen’s “Somebody To Love” in concerts, and there was even a performance with Queen’s Roger Taylor on drums, playing with Grohl and Hawkins for “Under Pressure.”
As I said, it is when you get into the music nerd world of Hawkin’s history, that you see that he was much more than just a drummer. Before making it big, he was the drummer for Alanis Morrisette during her “Jagged Little Pill” days. Comments by other musicians remarked how Hawkins loved to dive deep into the “why’s” and “what’s” of the processes and history of music. In short, he lived and loved music.
There is one image that will always stand out in my mind, a moment, where Hawkins not only realized who he was, where he had gotten to, humbling at the experience. While filming a Foo Fighters concert at Wembley Stadium in England, the band finishes a song with the crowd just screaming in enjoyment and applause. The camera focuses on both Grohl and Hawkins, who clearly have an “oh shit” moment, “is this really happening?” This particular stage and experience does not happen to many, such as Queen, or the Live Aid concert. Truly this was a great moment, and both of them knew it.
Like I said, bands lost members for one reason or another, often tragically. And over my years, Chicago (Terry Kath), Queen (Freddy Mercury), and the Eagles (Glen Frey) just to name a few have passed away. Somehow, and selfishly of fans, we are glad when bands like these can overcome their grief and continue on, not always perfect, and definitely not replacing the loss. But we are glad the bands continued to make music.
For Dave Grohl, Taylor is not the first tragedy of someone close to him, especially musically, he must morn. As one of the members of the grunge band Nirvana, Grohl was devastated by the suicide of lead singer, Kurt Cobain. Most in music found it hard to think that we would ever hear music like Nirvana had given us, ever again. No one definitely saw the Foo Fighters coming. But when they did, it was instant success, just like everything Grohl seems to touch, again, by Grohl’s commitment to, and love of music.
But now, Grohl is morning again. Hawkins has been the drummer for the Foo Fighters for over two decades, often side by side with Grohl. There is no way to even understand what grief Grohl must be feeling, as I got pissed off this morning by a Fox “story” on the “first sighting of Grohl” in California since Hawkin’s passing. Paparazzi are such ghouls.
It is rare that a drummer gets as much attention as Hawkins has. Unless you are Ringo Starr, Phil Collins, Don Henly, or Neil Peart, you get attention as a drummer for antics such as Tommy Lee Lars Ulrich. I can name quite a few other drummers, just as a fan of the bands I listen to (Danny Seraphine of Chicago, Jeff Plate of Tran Siberian Orchestra, I could go on). But Hawkins was more than just a drummer. He was a course in musicianship and appreciation.
During their final concert before Hawkin’s passing, lead singer Dave Grohl told the crowd, “I don’t say goodbye. I don’t like to say goodbye. I know that we’ll always come back, we’ll come back. Will you come back? If you come back, we’ll come back, so then I won’t have to say goodbye.” It was soon after that, Taylor was gone. Kind of prophetic those words and what they would mean in the near future as all future tour dates and an appearance on the Grammy’s were cancelled. And who could blame Grohl or the rest of the band? The grief has to be unimaginable.
But as fans, we are selfish. We want more. We want more Foo Fighters. And if anyone can do it, it will be Grohl leading the way, and in a manner that honors Hawkins. All they have to do is look at their song, “Times Like These.” The main message of the song, “you learn to live again.” It is my hope, just as many others have gone through a tragedy like this, the Foo Fighters can continue on, just as their music will, and the memory of Taylor Hawkins.