Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins has died, according to the band’s rep. No cause of death or further details were immediately announced, although a rep says the band was preparing to perform in Bogota, Colombia on Friday night at the time of his death. He was 50.
Hawkins, who joined the band in 1997 after two years as Alanis Morissette’s drummer, was a key element of the Foo Fighters’ sound and image. An imaginative and rock-solid drummer, he had the seemingly thankless task of playing drums behind Foos singer-guitarist Dave Grohl, who is one of the greatest drummers in rock history. Hawkins filled that role with aplomb, bringing his own hard-hitting, time-juggling style to the band’s straight-ahead rock sound without trying to emulate Grohl. He was also a strong singer and frequently took the mic during the band’s concerts and on B-sides, often on cover versions (such as a 2008 team-up with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, when Grohl went behind the drum kit at Hawkins took the mic). He also cowrote many of the band’s songs.
One of Hawkins’ own songs, “Cold Day in the Sun,” which appeared on the Foos’ 2005 album “In Your Honor,” was often played live on tour, with Grohl manning the drums while Hawkins handled lead vocals. The power pop tune was a fan favorite and showcased Hawkins’ own chops as a frontman.
— Foo Fighters (@foofighters) March 26, 2022
Born Oliver Taylor Hawkins in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1972, his family moved to Laguna Beach, California, when he was four, and he grew up there. After playing with several bands as a teenager, he became the drummer for rock singer Sass Jordan, leaving to join Morissette on the tour supporting her blockbuster 1995 album “Jagged Little Pill.” He played with Morissette until March of 1997 and is featured in “Jagged,” the 2021 HBO documentary about the singer.
Foo Fighters, whose 1995 debut was recorded entirely solo by Grohl, had enlisted a full band to record their second album, “The Colour and the Shape,” but drummer William Goldsmith left the band during the sessions; the parts we re-recorded by Grohl. The frontman called Hawkins, whom he’d met in the past, asking for recommendations, thinking he would not want to leave Morissette, but Hawkins volunteered himself, joining in March of 1997. He had been a tireless and highly visible member of the band ever since, eagerly participating in in the band’s eight studio albums — the most recent of which is last year’s Grammy-nominated “Medicine at Midnight” — hundreds of concerts, and many Grohl-led side-projects like the Bee Gees parody/tribute act the DeeGees and the group’s recent mock horror film, “Studio 666.” An offshoot of that project, a heavy metal EP called “Dream Widow,” was released last night.
Foo Fighters are scheduled to perform at the Lollapalooza Festival in Brazil on Sunday and at the Grammy Awards a week later, on April 3, although their immediate plans were not announced. The band has multiple tour dates scheduled through December in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Hawkins suffered a heroin overdose in 2001 and was in a coma for two weeks, although he characterized it as an accident and told Beats 1 he had been “partying a lot” but was not addicted.
In 2006, Hawkins released a self-titled LP with his side project, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders. He also has worked with Coheed and Cambria, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, former Jane’s Addiction bassist Eric Avery’s first solo album, Foo Fighters bandmate Chris Shiflett’s side project, Jackson United; and Queen guitarist Brian May’s 1998 solo album, “Another World.”
He is survived by his wife, Alison, and three children.
Variety will have more on Hawkins’ life and career in the coming days.