When Dave Grohl met Taylor Hawkins

The Foo Fighters are one of the most influential rock bands of all time, winning an incredible 15 Grammy Awards, including five for Best Rock Album. Founded by Dave Grohl, formerly of Nirvana fame, in 1994, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021.

Following the tragic death of their drummer Taylor Hawkins earlier this year, aged 50, the surviving band members joined fellow artists and fans for a huge memorial concert at Wembley Stadium. Queen, Sam Ryder, Paul McCartney, Blink-182, AC/DC and other rock royalty took part in the Taylor Hawkins memorial gig on 3rd September.

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Hawkins’ son, 16-year-old Shane, played the drums on stage to honour his dad. He joined the Foo Fighters for a powerful performance of My Hero.

Hawkins and fellow band members received the first-ever MTV Video Music Awards’ Global Icon award in September 2021, only six months before his untimely death in March.

Foo Fighters’ origins

Back in 1994, Grohl was a 25-year-old singer, songwriter, drummer and guitarist. Born in Warren, Ohio, he started playing the guitar at 12 and was largely self-taught. He was introduced to punk rock by his cousin and played in several local bands while in high school. He also taught himself to play the drums, citing John Bonham of Led Zeppelin as his greatest influence.

While playing with Washington DC punk band Scream in 1990, Grohl was invited to audition as Nirvana’s drummer by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. They knew “within two minutes” he was the right drummer, according to Novoselic.

He was Nirvana’s drummer until April 1994, when Cobain’s tragic death left Grohl feeling at a loss. After retreating for six months, he recorded a new demo tape in October. Capitol Records invited him to sign for the label, but he decided he didn’t want a solo career, so he recruited other band members.

As lead vocalist and guitarist, he launched the Foo Fighters with fellow guitarist Pat Smear, Nate Mendel on bass guitar and William Goldsmith on drums. Their 1995 debut album, Foo Fighters, was released to great critical acclaim. Launching the band on the road to global success; it peaked at number three in the UK charts and number 23 in the United States.

Memorable meeting

Born in 1972 in Fort Worth, Texas, Hawkins moved to Laguna Beach, California, as a child with his family. After graduating from Laguna Beach High School in 1990, he was the drummer for the Orange County band, Sylvia, before becoming the drummer for rock singer Sass Jordan.

In June 1995, Hawkins became Alanis Morissette’s drummer on her Jagged Little Pill tour and later her Can’t Not tour. He played on the video for her most famous song, You Oughta Know, followed by All I Really Want and You Learn. Enjoying his life on the road, a fateful meeting was soon to change his life.

When Dave Grohl met Taylor Hawkins, both musicians were enjoying success, in the recording studio and on the road, with their respective bands. They first met backstage at a music festival staged by a radio station. Grohl later recalled how Hawkins went over to him, introduced himself and said, “Dude, I love your record – it’s so cool!”

Grohl said within ten seconds of meeting Taylor, he felt like he was his “twin, best friend or spirit animal”. Both men declared they would be “best friends for the rest of their lives”. Their well-documented bromance followed, as Grohl later invited Hawkins to join the Foo Fighters after their existing drummer left in 1996.

At the time, Hawkins was still touring with Alanis Morissette, but she had already noticed their chemistry. She had even asked Hawkins what he would do if Grohl asked him to be Foo Fighters’ drummer. Although Grohl said Hawkins was an amazing drummer, he felt it was more their friendship that spurred him to join the band.

Their chance meeting was the start of a close personal friendship that inspired some of the greatest rock hits produced by the Foo Fighters, leading to their 15 Grammy Awards.

Grohl described Hawkins as a “tornado of hyperactive joy” and his “brother from another mother”. In a moving tribute, he said their bond was immediate from their first meeting and they grew closer every day, through every song they played together.

Their chance meeting “ignited a musical twin flame”, creating an “unstoppable duo, onstage and off”. Between 1997 until his tragic death in March of 2022, Hawkins was a valuable member of the Foo Fighters and Grohl’s lifelong best friend. This was just as Grohl had prophesied on their first meeting.

Will the Foo Fighters continue?

The Foo Fighters are planning a second tribute concert to Hawkins on 27th September at The Kia Forum in Los Angeles. Following his death, the band cancelled all their gigs and said simply, “Let’s take this time to grieve.”

Other than the tribute concerts, no other gigs have been announced and there has been speculation that the Foo Fighters may not continue, although there has been no formal announcement to date on whether the band will carry on as the Foo Fighters with a new drummer, or perhaps go their separate ways.

Since the UK tribute concert, Shane Hawkins’ performance on drums in memory of his late father has gone viral.

Grohl said of Shane, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone hit the drums as hard as this person,” and in an emotional moment told the crowd, “He’s a member of our family and he needs to be here tonight with all of us.”

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