Watch the Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins (RIP) Give a Drumming Masterclass

If you’re going to back Dave Grohl behind the drums, well…. As so many have said, in so many ways over the week­end, in poignant trib­utes to Foo Fight­ers’ drum­mer Tay­lor Hawkins, who sad­ly passed away at age 50 on Fri­day — you’d bet­ter be damned good. As the Foo Fight­ers formed with Grohl on gui­tar and vocals, the for­mer Nir­vana drum­mer, now front­man “need­ed some­one who would not make fans keep wish­ing he had stuck with drums,” as NBC’s Daniel Arkin writes.

Grohl almost did stick with drums, at least in the stu­dio, record­ing the parts him­self for the band’s first album, The Colour and the Shape, after con­flicts with orig­i­nal drum­mer William Gold­smith. Hawkins was the tour­ing drum­mer for Ala­nis Moris­sette at the time — a much big­ger act than Foo Fight­ers in the late 90s. But the two kept bump­ing into each oth­er “back stage at fes­ti­vals around the world,” as Grohl wrote in his 2021 auto­bi­og­ra­phy, The Sto­ry­teller: Tales of Life and Music. “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?’ Part Beav­is and Butthead, part Dumb and Dumb­er, we were a hyper­ac­tive blur of Par­lia­ment Lights and air drum­ming wher­ev­er we went.”

Not only did Hawkins become Grohl’s “best friend and part­ner in crime” — his blond, beard­ed dop­pel­gänger behind the drums — but he was a fero­cious musi­cian on his terms, col­lab­o­rat­ing with Bri­an May, Den­nis Wil­son, Slash, and mem­bers of Jane’s Addic­tion, form­ing his own band, Tay­lor Hawkins and the Coat­tail Rid­ers, and get­ting vot­ed “Best Rock Drum­mer” in a 2005 read­ers poll by drum­ming mag­a­zine Rhythm. The acco­lade, if high­ly sub­jec­tive, is still high­ly deserved.

Revis­it Hawkins’ great­ness above in the BBC Radio 6 Drum­ming Mas­ter­class above, a near­ly hour-long spe­cial in which the man him­self walks us through his ear­ly life, his influ­ences, his drum­ming tech­niques, and his behind-the-scenes expe­ri­ences play­ing with Moris­sette and Dave “Steve Miller on steroids” Grohl. It’s an essen­tial watch for fans and per­haps one of the best ways to remem­ber the only drum­mer who could suc­cess­ful­ly back Nir­vana’s for­mer drum­mer for over two decades. He will be dear­ly missed for far longer than that.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dave Grohl Tells the Sto­ry of How He Wrote “Ever­long”

Dave Grohl & Greg Kurstin Cov­er The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” to Cel­e­brate Han­nukah: Hey! Oy! Let’s Goy!

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”

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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