Taylor Hawkins, the jovial, ferocious drummer for Foo Fighters for more than two decades, died Friday at the age of 50. The band announced the musician’s death in a statement but did not reveal a cause.
“The Foo Fighters family is devastated by the tragic and untimely loss of our beloved Taylor Hawkins,” the group wrote. “His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever.” Foo Fighters are currently on tour in South America and were scheduled to perform at Festival Estéreo Picnic in Bogotá, Colombia, at the time of Hawkins’ death, a rep for the band told Rolling Stone.
Bogota municipal government issued a statement Friday night confirming that the city’s emergency services received a call about a patient complaining of “chest pain,” the Associated Press reports. Ambulances were sent to the Four Seasons Casa Medina hotel, where the band was staying. Health workers “carried out resuscitation maneuvers” on Hawkins but “the patient was declared dead,” Bogotá’s Secretary of Health tweeted Saturday morning.
According to the Attorney General of Colombia, 10 substances were found in Hawkins, including antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and opioids. “The National Institute for Legal Medicine continues to conduct the necessary medical studies to ascertain the cause of death,” the office wrote in a tweet on Saturday. “The Attorney General’s office will continue to investigate and will duly inform the findings of forensic examinations in due time.”
As news of Hawkins’ death spread, numerous musicians and celebrities took to social media to honor the late drummer. “God bless you Taylor Hawkins. I loved your spirit and your unstoppable rock power,” wrote Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, sharing a photo of himself and Hawkins alongside Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell. Miley Cyrus, a noted Foo Fighters fan, shared a photograph of herself and Hawkins to her Instagram stories, writing, “This is how I’ll always remember you,” and added that her upcoming concert would be dedicated to him. Slash wrote that Hawkins’ death left him “devastated,” saying, “I’ve no words to express all the feelings I have about his passing.” Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, Ozzy Osbourne and producer Steve Albini were among others who also shared tributes.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Hawkins relocated to Laguna Beach, California with his family in his early childhood. Following a stint with Canadian singer Sass Jordan in the early Nineties, Hawkins rose to prominence as the touring drummer for Alanis Morissette during the Jagged Little Pill era. “The second I heard ‘You Oughta Know,’ I was like, ‘I’m in that band!'” Hawkins told Rolling Stone last November. “I just knew.” Hawkins also appeared in the music videos for the singer’s hit singles “You Oughta Know” and “You Learn.”
After inter-studio conflict led to the departure of original Foo Fighters drummer William Goldsmith during recording sessions for the group’s breakthrough second album, The Colour and the Shape — forcing frontman Dave Grohl to handle drumming duties on the record — Hawkins officially joined the band at Grohl’s request in the spring of 1997.
Grohl would later refer to the drummer as his “best friend and partner in crime” in his 2021 autobiography, The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. “During his stint as Alanis Morissette’s drummer, long before he became a Foo Fighter, we would bump into each other backstage at festivals all over the world, and our chemistry was so obvious that even Alanis herself once asked him, ‘What are you going to do when Dave asks you to be his drummer?'” Grohl wrote. “Part Beavis and Butthead, part Dumb and Dumber, we were a hyperactive blur of Parliament Lights and air drumming wherever we went.”
Throughout his career with Foo Fighters, Hawkins occasionally handled vocal duties, singing lead on the group’s 2005 single “Cold Day in the Sun” and “Sunday Rain” from 2017’s Concrete and Gold. Hawkins also frequently sang cover songs with the group, both for Foo Fighters B-sides and during live performances — including a powerful rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” during a January 2021 show for fully-vaccinated fans in Los Angeles.
“He came into a band that was pretty scrappy, in general, and kind of acclimated to that for a second, and then was like, ‘Hang on a second, what if we become good?'” Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel said of Hawkins in the band’s recent Rolling Stone cover story. “That was Taylor’s thing, like, ‘Why don’t we learn how to be better as a band and pay more attention to what we’re doing live?'” Hawkins also co-starred with his bandmates in the Foo Fighters’ horror-comedy film, Studio 666, released last month.
Outside of his work with Foo Fighters, Hawkins regularly collaborated with other musicians and groups, launching several side projects of his own. In 2006, he embarked on a solo career with Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, reuniting with his former Morissette touring bandmate and Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney. Hawkins would go on to release three albums under the Coattail Riders banner, tapping artists including Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, Elliot Easton of the Cars, Perry Farrell, as well as Grohl for collaborations. Hawkins also fronted cover band Chevy Metal with friends Wiley Hodgden and Mick Murphy, with the trio eventually releasing an album under the moniker Birds of Satan in 2014.
Most recently, Hawkins joined forces with Chaney and Dave Navarro for NHC — a supergroup formed during pandemic jam sessions at Hawkins’ home studio in Los Angeles. “NHC was the first time any of us have been in a situation writing-wise where we just throw the ball,” Hawkins told Rolling Stone last year. “It’s like playing catch, literally. A writing session or recording session for us is all three of us playing playing baseball in a backyard.” The band’s debut album is slated for release this year.
“The drummer’s seat is the hot seat,” Hawkins told Rolling Stone in 2020. “It’s the first guy to get fired. It’s the first [guy] when everyone goes, ‘We sucked tonight because he sucked.’ The drummer is really the toilet of the band, but also the most important part on a certain level. Your job is to be the pulse of the band.”