American drummer Oliver Taylor Hawkins (February 17, 1972 – March 25, 2022) was most known for his work with the rock band Foo Fighters (1997–2021). The group released nine studio albums during that time. He had previously toured as a drummer for Sass Jordan, Alanis Morissette, and progressive experimental band Sylvia before joining the band in 1997.
Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, a side band in which Hawkins plays drums and sings, was formed in 2004, and they have released three albums between 2006 and 2019. In 2020, he joined Jane’s Addiction bandmates Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney to establish the supergroup NHC, for which he was responsible for both lead vocals and drums.
Taylor Hawkins Early Life
On February 17, 1972, Oliver Taylor Hawkins made his debut in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1976, his family made a move to Laguna Beach, California, and it is where Hawkins spent his childhood. Hawkins had an elder brother named Jason and an older sister named Heather. Hawkins was the youngest of three children. In 1990, he received his diploma from Laguna Beach High School, where he had known and been friends with Jon Davison, now the main vocalist for Yes.
Taylor Hawkins Personal Life
Hawkins’s wife, Alison, and he tied the knot back in 2005. They have three kids as a couple. After leaving Topanga Canyon in 2012, they settled in Hidden Hills, California. Hawkins suffered a heroin overdose in August of 2001, putting him into a coma for two weeks. Dave Grohl, Hawkins’ bandmate and best friend, waited by his side in a London hospital for two weeks until he regained consciousness. Although Hawkins was in the hospital, Grohl stated he was ready to call it quits musically.
While Hawkins was in a coma, he wrote the song “On the Mend” from the album In Your Honor (2005) about him, which he discussed in the documentary Foo Fighters: Back and Forth (2011). Hawkins said to Beats 1 host Matt Wilkinson in 2018: “Many late nights were spent in celebration. I was not an addict or anything, but I had a good time now and then. There was a year when everyone went a little overboard with the celebrations.
In a way, I’m glad that this man gave me the wrong line with the faulty item one night since I woke up the next day wondering, “What the fuck happened.” In retrospect, I may say that was when my life began to shift.” Hawkins also claimed to be sober in the same interview. On the big stage, Hawkins got nervous and couldn’t perform. During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in June 2021, Hawkins discussed his health, saying, “I have good health.
Taylor Hawkins’s Career
In the spring of 1996, after a lengthy tour, Foo Fighters entered a studio in Seattle, where they worked with producer Gil Norton on their second studio album. There was tension between Dave Grohl and drummer William Goldsmith during recording, which led to Goldsmith’s departure. After regrouping in Los Angeles, the band nearly re-recorded the album with Grohl behind the drum kit. On May 20, 1997, The Colour and the Shape was released as an album.
Grohl reached out to Hawkins, an old friend, to ask for advice on a new drummer. Considering that Morissette was a more significant performer than Foo Fighters at the time, Grohl assumed that Hawkins would not leave her touring band. To Grohl’s astonishment, Hawkins offered to join the gang, saying he’d rather play drums in a rock band than for a solo act. On March 18, 1997, the band announced Hawkins would be replacing the previous drummer.
Although “Monkey Wrench” was recorded prior to Hawkins’s joining the Foo Fighters, he made his first appearance with the band in the music video for the single in 1997. Hawkins contributed vocals, guitar, and piano to several records, in addition to his drumming with the Foo Fighters. He sang lead on an arrangement of “Have a Cigar” by Pink Floyd. Both the B-side to “Learn to Fly” and the album version from the Mission: Impossible 2 soundtrack feature the song.
Later, he provided lead vocals for the single “Cold Day in the Sun” from In Your Honor, and he also sang on a rendition of Cream’s “I Feel Free,” which was featured on the EP B-side “DOA” and on the album Five Songs and a Cover. The band’s rendition of “Life of Illusion” by Joe Walsh featured Hawkins on lead vocals. He later sang lead vocals for the Foo Fighters’ single “Sunday Rain,” which appeared on their 2017 album Concrete and Gold.
During his final gig with the Foo Fighters, he delivered lead vocals on a cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” On every album following “There Is Nothing Left to Lose,” he is credited as a songwriter. Before his untimely demise, Hawkins played the Lollapalooza Argentina festival on March 20, 2022, with the Foo Fighters. On April 3, 2022, Hawkins and the Foo Fighters would posthumously bestow three Grammy Awards.
Cause Of Death
On March 25, 2022, Hawkins complained of chest trouble in his hotel room at the Four Seasons Casa Medina in Bogotá, Colombia, prompting the hotel staff to call for medical assistance. As paramedics and other medical teams arrived, they discovered Hawkins unconscious. Despite CPR, he was pronounced dead on the spot. Unfortunately, the official cause of death was not disclosed.
Authorities in Colombia reported that a preliminary urine toxicology test revealed that Hawkins had 10 chemicals in his system at his death. These substances included opiates, benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, and THC cannabis. The attorney general’s office and Colombia’s National Institute of Forensic Medicine both plan to keep looking into what happened to Taylor Hawkins and will do it in a “timely way,” respectively.
A story published in Rolling Stone in May 2022 argued that Hawkins’s death was hastened by his acute fatigue. Chad Smith and Matt Cameron, two interviewees, have publicly distanced themselves from the piece, claiming they were misquoted and misrepresented.
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