Taylor Hawkins, the hard-hitting, charismatic drummer for Foo Fighters, has died at 50.
A statement posted to the band’s social media and sent by its representative confirmed the death, but did not provide a cause or location. The band was scheduled to play a show Friday night in Bogotá, Colombia, at the Festival Estéreo Picnic.
Recognizable for his flailing limbs, surfer’s good looks and wide, childlike grin, Hawkins became a member of the band led by Dave Grohl for its third album, “There Is Nothing Left to Lose,” released in 1999, and has played on the group’s subsequent seven albums.
Foo Fighters’ most recent LP, “Medicine at Midnight,” arrived last year as the group was celebrating its 25th anniversary, and in an interview with The New York Times, Hawkins was direct about his hopes for its future. “I want to be the biggest band in the world,” he said.
Hawkins started to play drums at age 10, and said that a 1982 Queen show made him realize music was his passion. “After that concert, I don’t think I slept for three days,” he said in a 2021 interview with the metal magazine Kerrang. “It changed everything, and I was never the same because of it. It was the beginning of my obsession with rock ’n’ roll, and I knew that I wanted to be in a huge rock band after seeing Queen.”
After playing in a local California band called Sylvia and backing the Canadian rock vocalist Sass Jordan, Hawkins’s first mainstream break came in 1995, when he joined Alanis Morissette’s band as she toured behind her blockbuster album “Jagged Little Pill.” (He appeared in the video for its breakout hit “You Oughta Know,” flipping his blond mane behind the drum kit.)
Grohl recalled meeting Hawkins backstage at a radio station concert in the 1990s and feeling an immediate kinship. “I was like, ‘Wow, you’re either my twin or my spirit animal or my best friend,’” Grohl said in an interview last year. “When it was time to look for a drummer, I kind of wished that he would do it, but I didn’t imagine he would leave Alanis Morissette, because at the time she was the biggest artist in the world.”
But when Grohl called him later looking for a drummer, Hawkins said, “I’m your guy,” Grohl recalled.
“I think it had more to do with our personal relationship than anything musical,” he added. “To be honest, it still does. Our musical relationship — the foundation of that is our friendship, and that’s why when we jump up onstage and play, we’re so connected because we’re like best friends.”
Recorded in a Virginia basement without the input of a record label, “There Is Nothing Left to Lose,” released by RCA in 1999, went on to win the Grammy for best rock album — the first of the band’s 12 career awards there.
At this year’s Grammys, where Foo Fighters were scheduled to perform on April 3, “Medicine for Midnight” was nominated for three awards, including best rock performance (for the song “Making a Fire”), best rock song (“Waiting on a War”) and best rock album.
Foo Fighters were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2021, recognized for their “rock authenticity with infectious hooks, in-your-face guitar riffs, monster drums, and boundless energy.”
In addition to his drumming, Hawkins went on to contribute as a songwriter to subsequent Foo Fighters albums, even singing lead vocals on occasion. Beginning in 2006, he released three albums with his side project, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders.
Hawkins had struggled with drugs through his career. In 2001, he overdosed in London and was in a coma for two weeks. “Everyone has their own path and I took it too far,” he told Kerrang, adding that he once believed the “myth of live hard and fast, die young.”
Hawkins added, “I’m not here to preach about not doing drugs, because I loved doing drugs, but I just got out of control for a while and it almost got me.”
In a 2018 conversation with Beats 1, he said, “There’s no happy ending with hard drugs,” but declined to explain how he stayed sober: “I don’t really discuss how I live my life in that regard. I have my system that works for me.”
Hawkins married his wife, Alison, in 2005. She survives him, as do their three children, Oliver, Annabelle and Everleigh.
A full obituary will follow.