Times Like These: Reflections on Taylor Hawkins
Taylor Hawkins, the drummer for the Foo Fighters, has died at 50. The cause of death is unknown at this time.
Look, I know. I do, I really do. It’s a little silly to mourn a celebrity you never met. I’m sure there are countless articles about why this is or isn’t appropriate at the untimely (or hell, timely) passing of a public figure.
And, well, this one is mine.
I’m pretty sad about Taylor Hawkins. That’s the crux of it. He seemed like an egoless figure who was grateful for the fact that he got to play rock music for a living. The drummer for Slothrust, one of my favorite new bands, took to social media and briefly recounted a story about eating lunch with Hawkins at a festival, saying, “he was the kindest most down-to-earth person I’ve ever met in the industry.”
Say what you will about the Foo Fighters—a dad rock band who has lingered for too long or they’ve lost their edge over the years—but you cannot deny the impact they’ve had on rock music or music in general. I’d wager to say no rock band will climb to their ranks for years to come.
I was in middle school when I first started religiously listening to Foo Fighters. This was around the same time I started pounding away at a drum set myself, giving all my focus to becoming a great rock drummer (but my capabilities only took me so far and I switched to guitar and bass—a much better fit). I listened to all kinds of songs, from Nirvana to Foo Fighters to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and then tried to hammer them out on my own set. Looking back, I think what I really wanted was to be just good enough to be in a band. Don’t get me wrong, being a rock god would have been great, but it didn’t take long for me to see the edges of my talent.
I’m pretty sad about Taylor Hawkins. That’s the crux of it. He seemed like an egoless figure who was grateful for the fact that he got to play rock music for a living.
After years of practice and switching a couple of instruments, I was finally in a band I was proud to be a part of. Those guys—Ehrman, Emery, and Brad—were my best friends. We went to the Foo Fighters show when they rolled through Spokane in 2003 and, here’s the thing, I have a lot of memories of my time with these best friends, but moments like this—crowd surfacing, clutching our sides because the band’s banter made us laugh so hard, being collectively blown away by the power of live music—stand out. Maybe that wasn’t reflective of our day-to-day existence (that’d be watching Can’t Hardly Wait, playing NFL Blitz, and rehearsing our own songs over and over again), but this concert was indicative of what we loved and what brought us together. Music was our bond and a hugely important element in our lives and friendship.
When our own drummer died an untimely death (albeit, years after our band broke up), it was music that helped us grapple with the grief of losing him. We turned to those same bands we grew up dancing to in the darkness of our basements. These songs transported us back to a time when we could feel the presence of our dead friend again. They brought us closer to him in a time of absolute pain and, for that, I’m grateful.
It’d be easy to talk about the empathetic grief I feel for Dave Grohl. The mountain he’s now looking down as the band’s frontman—questions about whether the Foo Fighters stay together or any parallels between Hawkins and Kurt Cobain or how devastating it must be for him to lose iconic musicians in his two bands. (And, by extension, Pat Smear too, this is three iconic musicians lost across three bands for him; starting with the Germs and the loss of Darby Crash, then as a touring member of Nirvana during the final years, and now Foo Fighters.) This, of course, is all speculation. I don’t know Grohl, so all I can do is imagine. So, I’ll leave it at this: I hope he disappears for a while. I don’t want him to have to grieve in the public spotlight again.
Taylor Hawkins helped shape my musical journey, and that musical journey helped shape my adolescence, which led to some of the best friends I could ever dream of. I know I’m not the only one. He was a part of the bridge that helped me articulate indescribable emotions and brought me closer to the people I love.
Thank you, Taylor Hawkins, for all you’ve given to millions of people like me. You are already missed.