If you follow music news, or just scan entertainment headlines, you might have noticed that a few weeks after his death, beloved Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins’ final days became a controversial subject. According to a Rolling Stone article quoting Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Hawkins was exhausted by the Foo Fighters’ touring schedule. He needed a break, and he didn’t get one. Both drummers have issued statements disavowing the article. Meanwhile, as GQ noted, a Rolling Stone “Instagram post highlighting the article is being slammed by critical fans in the comments.”
Arguing over hearsay about a musician’s state of mind before his death seems like a poor way to remember him soon after he’s gone. If you’d rather steer clear of this scene, the original Rolling Stone piece is still worth checking out for its introduction: a feelgood story from three days before Hawkins, 50, was found in his Bogotá hotel room.
After Foo Fighters canceled a headlining concert in Asunción, the capital city of Paraguay, due to weather, Hawkins ended up hanging out with nine-year-old drummer Emma Sofía Peralta outside the Sheraton. She’d brought her drum kit and played for him. He posed for a photo with her, “crouching next to her and flashing the sort of warm, toothy smile that established him as one of the most beloved drummers in rock.”
More details of Hawkins’ death may become public, or they may not. But they shouldn’t obscure the reason he was famous in life. Like everyone else in the band, but most especially his “twin” Dave Grohl, Hawkins always looked like he was having the time of his life, whether onstage or meeting fans. The band won mass devotion not only through stellar songwriting and performances but through sheer, unbridled enthusiasm: the kind of spirit that drove 1000 musicians to stage a concert covering “Learn to Fly” in 2015, in a bid to bring the Foo Fighters to the town of Cesena, Italy. It worked, and thus was born the Rockin’ 1000 concept.
Getting a handful of rock musicians to show up on time is a feat in itself, much less 1000 of them, all playing not only on time but in time as well. Rockin’ 1000 has pulled this off consistently since they started, and their tribute above to Hawkins above is no different — a stadium-sized cover version of “My Hero” that conveys all the emotion of the original while multiplying it by the amplitude of a hundred marching bands. A fitting remembrance of what Hawkins meant to his fans if ever there was one.
Watch the Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins (RIP) Give a Drumming Masterclass
Watch 1,000 Musicians Play the Foo Fighters’ “Learn to Fly,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel,” and The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
Dave Grohl Falls Offstage & Breaks His Leg, Then Continues the Show as The Foo Fighters Play Queen’s “Under Pressure” (2015)
Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness