Honoring a legend: Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts

Foo Fighters & friends gather for a night of music dedicated to the late drummer

The death of Taylor Hawkins, the drummer for the band Foo Fighters, left a deep void in the hearts of music lovers around the world. On Sept. 3, the Foo Fighters and fans came together to honor Hawkins at Wembley Stadium in a night filled with love, respect and performances from some of the most famous names in rock.

Taylor Hawkins joined the Foo Fighters in 1997, appearing on their classic album “The Colour and the Shape,” and became a crucial aspect in creating the iconic sound that characterizes the Foo Fighters. As a member of the band, Hawkins won 15 Grammy awards and became a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Hawkins passed away on March 25 of this year, at the age of 50, while the Foo Fighters were on tour in Bogotá, Colombia. Although his official cause of death hasn’t been disclosed, a toxicology report found the presence of various substances in his system. Doctors claimed that Hawkins’ heart weighed twice the normal weight, indicating that severe damage was done to his body and caused him to suffer cardiac arrest.

Hawkins openly spoke about his battle with addiction, having attempted to stay clean after an overdose in 2001. The sudden and unexpected passing of Hawkins left an irreplaceable gap in the rock music world, and his bandmates felt that two tribute shows would be the proper way to honor Hawkins’ legacy and the music he created.

The London concert will be followed by another tribute concert at Los Angeles’ Kia Forum on Sept. 27. The Foo Fighters have also teamed up with Paramount so that viewers can watch the full Wembley show across streaming and digital platforms.

The proceeds from the concert will be divided between Music Support and MusiCares, both chosen by the Hawkins family. These charities provide resources to those involved in the music industry struggling with mental illness and addiction. Music Support states that its mission is to “make sure that nobody is left to be affected along with mental ill-health or addiction,” and to “facilitate prevention and earlier intervention.”

The evening at Wembley began with an emotional introduction from Dave Grohl, the frontman for the Foo Fighters.

“For those of you who knew him personally, you knew that nobody else could make you smile or laugh or dance or sing as he could,” Grohl said. “For those of you who admired him from afar, I’m sure you’ve all felt the same thing.”

Dozens of artists gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Hawkins. Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor played hit songs that got the crowd moving alongside the Foo Fighters, including “We Will Rock You,” “Somebody to Love,” “Love of My Life” and Hawkins’ personal favorite, “Under Pressure.” Performances by Rush’s Geddy Lee, AC/DC and Metallica followed suit.

In addition to these star-studded acts, there were also performances that truly conveyed the gap left behind by the death of this rock legend. It was clear that a brotherhood was forged between Hawkins and his bandmates, specifically with Dave Grohl. In his memoir, “The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music,” Grohl described his close bond with Hawkins.

“My brother from another mother, my best friend, a man for whom I would take a bullet,” Grohl wrote. “Together, we have become an unstoppable duo, onstage and off … I am grateful that we found each other in this lifetime.”

The delivery of lines such as “It’s times like these you learn to love again” from the Foo Fighters classic, “Times Like These,” left Grohl holding back tears and grasping his microphone for support.
What struck viewers most was the appearance of Shane Hawkins, Hawkins’ 16-year-old son.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have one more drummer that’s going to come up and play with us … he’s a member of our family,” Grohl said to the Wembley audience.

Shane Hawkins’ energetic drum skills were showcased during “My Hero,” a well-known Foo Fighters song about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. This moment served as not only an emotional dedication to Taylor but also a means of advocating for the importance of caring for those struggling with mental illness and addiction. The tribute concert itself provides a platform of support for those battling these issues while showcasing the effects it has on an individual’s loved ones.

With this in mind, Shane cultivated this rockstar energy to pay homage to the impact his father made and left the crowd without a dry eye. For any Foo Fighters fan, it was quite an emotional sight to see Grohl turn to Shane, in a moment of direct eye contact, with security and pride.