The rock music world received a blow recently when the drummer of Foo Fighters died while on tour in Colombia.
Taylor Hawkins, 50, exuded a contagious joy and enthusiasm in everything he did. He held down the rhythm for the hard-driving songs the Foo Fighters are known for.
We decided to learn more about Taylor and the Foo Fighters and how they became one of the biggest bands to come out of the 90s music scene.
Let’s dive in!
The Story of the Foo Fighters
Founding member Dave Grohl began his music career in 1986 at 17 with the punk band Scream. He learned to play guitar at an early age but found drumming was his passion during high school. Grohl played drums for Scream until they disbanded in 1990. Soon after, he joined Seattle grunge band Nirvana as their drummer.
Grohl met guitarist Pat Smear in 1993 when Smear began touring with Nirvana. He remained Nirvana’s rhythm guitarist until lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994.
Bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith met when they played together in another Seattle band, Sunny Day Real Estate. When Sunny Day broke up in 1994, Mendel and Goldsmith looked for another group to join.
Getting the Band Together
With the abrupt ending of Nirvana, Dave Grohl looked for another musical outlet. He began working on a solo project called Foo Fighters, the nickname World War II aircraft pilots gave to UFOs. He recorded a 15-track studio album over five days. Grohl wrote the lyrics, performed every instrument, and sang vocals on all the songs for the recording.
Grohl passed around cassette copies to his friends to get feedback. The recording eventually caught the attention of record label executives. Grohl released the album under his newly-created label, Roswell Records, and licensed it to Capitol Records.
Grohl recruited former bandmate Smear, plus fellow Seattle musicians Mendel and Goldsmith to form a band supporting the album. The foursome performed their first show together as the Foo Fighters in February 1995 in Arcata, California. Grohl found himself acting as the vocalist and guitarist for the first time rather than the drummer in a band.
A few months later, they began their first tour together as the opening band for musician Mike Watt. That summer, they released their first single, This Is a Call, and their debut self-titled album.
Hawkins Joins the Band
Drummer William Goldsmith left the band in 1996, before the completion of the band’s second album. Grohl contacted Taylor Hawkins to ask if he knew anyone he could recommend to be the new Foo Fighters drummer. At the time, Hawkins played drums for Alanis Morissette’s touring band. To Dave Grohl’s surprise, Hawkins said he could be the replacement.
Hawkins officially joined Foo Fighters in 1997, just before the release of The Colour and the Shape, the band’s second album.
Though the band experienced a few more personnel changes, it remained a popular touring band. Pat Smear left the band in 1997 due to personal reasons but rejoined in 2005. Lead guitarist Chris Shiflett joined the band in 1999 after releasing their third album, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
There was a brief moment in Foo Fighter history where fans wondered what the future held for this hard-rocking band. During a 2015 show in Sweden, frontman Dave Grohl fell off the stage and broke his leg. They were only two songs into the show, but Dave was carried back onto the stage and finished the show from a chair.
The band canceled the remaining European shows that year and returned to the US for a North American tour. They called it the Broken Leg Tour, with Grohl performing from a custom-made throne.
In November 2015, Grohl announced the band was taking a hiatus, which they did for most of 2016. Foo Fighters regrouped in 2017, added keyboardist Rami Jaffe, and produced their ninth studio album, Concrete and Gold. The album featured several guest musicians, including Justin Timberlake and Paul McCartney.
Longtime Foo Fighters fans happily saw the band’s return to making music and performing shows.
Already an Incredible Legacy
Since its inception, Foo Fighters released ten studio albums, four of which received the Best Album Grammy Award. In addition to eight other Grammys, they’ve won awards from the BBC, Billboard, and American Music Awards.
Twenty-five years after the release of their first album, Foo Fighters earned an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2021, they joined other bands who waited much longer than 25 years to receive this honor. This marked Dave Grohl’s second induction into the Hall of Fame. The first came in 2014 with Nirvana’s induction.
Foo Fighters have been a favorite of fans in the grunge, punk, and rock scene for many years. Together for a quarter-century, Foo Fighters rocked their way into the hearts of music fans worldwide. The recent passing of drummer Taylor Hawkins has left the band’s future uncertain.
About Taylor Hawkins
Drummer Taylor Hawkins was born on February 17, 1972, in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1976, the Hawkins family moved to Laguna Beach, California, where Taylor eventually began his musical career.
Hawkins performed with various bands before joining singer Alanis Morissette’s touring band in 1995. He remained her drummer until 1997, when he joined the Foo Fighters.
Known for his infectious grin, youthful enthusiasm, and powerful drumming, Hawkins also had a great singing voice. He performed backing vocals on many Foo Fighters songs and lead vocals on occasion. At their last concert in Argentina, Hawkins sang a cover of the Queen song, Somebody to Love, while Dave Grohl played drums.
Hawkins had various side projects throughout his time in the Foo Fighters. He worked on solo efforts plus performed and recorded with other well-known musicians. Elton John, Slash, Dave Navarro, Eddie Vedder, and Brian May are just a few who shared musical space with Hawkins.
It’s no wonder Hawkins became the drumming phenomenon he did. His early influences included Stewart Copeland (The Police), Phil Collins (Genesis), Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), and Neal Peart (Rush).
Taylor Hawkins will undoubtedly influence future rock drummers for generations to come.
Foo Fighters’ Best Known Songs
Everlong, a track from their second album, The Colour and the Shape, became their signature song. Even casual fans of the band are familiar with this tune. It reached #3 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. It’s also the last song Taylor Hawkins performed with the band at their concert before his untimely death.
One of their biggest hits, Learn to Fly, came in 1999 from their third studio album, There is Nothing Left to Lose. It was their first song to reach the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #19. The single became an international hit, topping music charts across Europe.
The video for the song was a parody of the 1980 movie Airplane! and includes Jack Black and Kyle Gass from the band Tenacious D. Foo Fighters earned a Grammy for the video in 2001 for Best Short Form Music Video.
What’s Next For the Foo Fighters?
No official announcement has been made as to the future of the Foo Fighters. It’s too soon. Whether they decide to call it quits or find a replacement for Hawkins is yet to be determined. They canceled the remainder of their South American tour, plus all the 2022 dates scheduled in the US.
While the entire band is mourning the loss of their bandmate, Dave Grohl may be the hardest hit. In his 2021 memoir, Grohl wrote, “I am not afraid to say that our chance meeting was a kind of love at first sight, igniting a musical ‘twin flame’ that still burns to this day. Together, we have become an unstoppable duo, onstage and off, in pursuit of any and all adventure we can find.”
Their bond went well beyond that of your typical bandmates.
The Foo Fighters Will Never Be the Same
No matter what the future holds for the Foo Fighters, their legacy in rock music is forever solidified. Even if they move forward with a new drummer, the loss of Hawkins will be felt for years to come. We have faith that Dave Grohl will create something amazing no matter what he chooses to do.
What do you think will happen in the Foo Fighters’ future? Should they move on or call it quits?