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Taylor Hawkins: Remembering a Legend



A Drummer, Songwriter and Stadium-Level Vocalist

One year ago today, the drumming community and wider world of music woke in shock to the news that Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins had died aged 50. He may have joined Foo Fighters as the drummer, but he was a songwriter, stadium-level vocalist (as proved many times), and alongside Dave Grohl, the second strongest personality in Foo Fighters.

A Devotee of Classic Rock

Starting his career playing with Sass Jordan, before moving on to Alanis Morissette’s band, he might not have known it at the time (or perhaps maybe he did) that the distinctive “goofy” guy behind the drums, arms flailing with a shaggy shock of surfer-blonde hair would go on to become not only one of the most influential drummers of his time, but a cornerstone of one of the most successful rock bands of the 21st century.

Influential Drummer

Here, we celebrate just a few of the reasons that Taylor Hawkins was one of the leading lights representing drumming as a whole.

A Student of Rock

Taylor Hawkins was like a musical sponge; born in the ’70s, a teenager in the 80s soaking up the very best of rock music that had preceded him. Just like any American teenager of the era, Hawkins raised himself as a devotee of classic rock, culminating in a drumming style that had the power of John Bonham, the technicality of Neil Peart, the frenetic intricacies of Stewart Copeland, the showmanship of Alex Van Halen and Tommy Lee, and the hooks of Roger Taylor.

An Influence for Others

But he wasn’t just looking back. As a California native from the age of four, Hawkins was exposed first-hand to the most exciting contemporary rock of the late ’80s: Steven Adler, Chad Smith and one of his biggest influences – Stephen Perkins of Janes Addiction all played a part in shaping Hawkins’ melting pot of rock.

A Fusion of Progressive Timings and Stadium Clarity

He forged a friendship with Dave Grohl via coinciding festival performances, the two drummers hitting it off immediately – musically and with a Ryu/Ken twins-separated-at-birth likeness and similarity.

But join he did. Hawkins performed on covers of Killing Joke’s Requiem for the Everlong single b-side, along with covers of Prince’s Drive Me Wild and Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street. But his first full studio contribution came at a time where Foo Fighters found themselves as a three-piece during the making of There Is Nothing Left to Lose.

But as time went on, it’s clear that Hawkins stretched out into the role, helping to move Foo Fighters’ music – at least from a drumming perspective – away from the post-grunge and alt-rock beats of the 90s into a fusion of progressive timings and stadium clarity while maintaining the timeless position of a live drummer in a rock band.

A Pure Drumming Performance in a Live Environment

As we’ve established, Taylor Hawkins was a dyed-in-the-wool student of rock. But consider that Foo Fighters emerged during the height of mid/late-90s dance music’s popularity, became even bigger while nu-metal was at its peak, saw off a period of dubstep and remained in parallel with ‘EDM’ right through to the present day.

At a time where loops and samples, triggered drum sounds and even DJs seeped their gimmick into rock music, Taylor Hawkins kept his drums in Foo Fighters pure – at least in the live environment.

Rototoms, gongs, the brightly coloured finishes and more all add up to Taylor’s unflinching dedication to what he felt a rock drummer was: the backbone of a band, the focal point of the stage and still one of the key indicators that you’re watching a live band.

An Inspiration for Drummers Everywhere

But that’s because of the band, and in no small part, Taylor Hawkins’ relentless dedication to showing that rock ‘n’ roll can still thrive in its most bare-bones presentation. His drumming was at the core of this concept.

It’s these players who attract other drummers to the music, and elevates it to an audience beyond a love of the songs, transcending the ‘guy-at-the-back’ role, and inspiring an entire generation of new drummers along the way.

Hawkins was the latter, and hit the drumming world hard alongside a collection of drummers’ drummers who helped re-establish the art of great grooves and interesting playing in rock music.

A Legend Remembered

Another like-minded drummer who went on to conquer the world was Travis Barker. Upon the news of Hawkins’ death breaking, Barker shared a story of his and Taylor’s early days to his Instagram, revealing that Hawkins encouraged the Blink-182 drummer when he was still working as a bin-man.

To say I’ll miss you my friend isn’t enough. Till the next time we talk drums and smoke in the boys room…Rest In Peace.”

Rufus Taylor – now the drummer in The Darkness, and Nicholas Collins have both spent time in the orbit of Taylor Hawkins, both cite him as an influence, with Rufus Taylor having performed Under Pressure with Foo Fighters while Hawkins took vocal duties.

The fact that drummers as far reaching from the world of jazz to hip-hop and gospel, as well as the more obvious rock world have all rushed to pay tribute to Hawkins is testament to the fact that he was much more than just the drummer in a rock band. He was, in many ways, the glue that united the profile of drums and their position in music in the modern era.

The Love of Music and Rock

Taylor Hawkins never forgot why he was there in the first place – for the love of jumping behind a drum kit and playing the music you love. It starts with his rock covers band, Chevy Metal, who would regularly show up at clubs to run through a set of golden-era rock covers.

Hawkins was an extremely accomplished musician away from the kit too. As well as writing and releasing three albums with his side-project, Taylor Hawkins and The Coattail Riders, he also founded The Birds of Satan. Both projects showed Hawkins’ aptitude for leading a band, as well as his vocal ability alongside his more progressive drumming influences.

A Collaboration with Other Artists as a Session Player

Naturally, as one of the most significant drummers in popular culture, Hawkins’ energy and musicianship as a drummer led to him working with plenty of other artists as a session player.

In 2006, when



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