7 Great Taylor Hawkins Performances

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The Foo Fighters have tapped a number of friends to play a tribute show in honor of the late great Taylor Hawkins in Los Angeles Tuesday night (Sept. 27). On the bill are the likes of Travis Barker, Rush’s Geddy Lee, Alanis Morissette, Miley Cyrus, Chad Smith, Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor and many more.

While these artists are heading to the Kia Forum to pay homage to Hawkins, we’re following suit in our own way. Below, we’re going through 7 of Hawkins’ best performances across his career.

1. Live at the Pinkpop Festival With Alanis Morissette (1996)

Before Hawkins took over the drums for the Foo Fighters, his first gig on the world’s stage was with Alanis Morissette. Both Hawkins and Morisette were just young, 20-something musicians still trying to figure it all out. An appearance at the Pinkpop Festival in 1996 is an early example of the infectious enthusiasm Hawkins imbued from the very beginning. “She gave me a lot of space to do what I wanted,” Hawkins recalled of Morissette. “It was probably the biggest album of the year, and there was a lot of pressure on her. She was having to learn to be this leader on the job, which isn’t easy. But it was really one of the most fun times of my life.”

2. “Monkey Wrench” on Jools Holland (1997)

It’s hard to miss the impact that Hawkins had on the Foos when he joined the band in 1997. In this performance from Later … With Jools Holland, a 25-year-old Hawkins is already a dynamo behind the drums, becoming the engine that took the Foos to new heights.

3. Fronting a Psuedo-Zeppelin Reunion (2008)

Dave Grohl tapped Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones for a one-off show at Wembley Stadium in 2008. With Grohl filling in for the late John Bonham on drums and Robert Plant absent, Hawkins stood behind the mic for a rendition of the band’s 1971 track “Rock and Roll.” The performance saw Hawkins hit Plant’s soaring high notes effortlessly proving that he was an ace in the hole in more ways than one.

4. Inducting Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2013)

Hawkins helped usher Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. He first took the stage to say, “Fuckin’ Neil Peart … come on! This guy spawned a generation of air drummers for decades to come.” Later, he donned a Peart-Esque wig and a kimono for a cover of the overture on Rush’s album, 2112. Hawkins was joined by Grohl on guitar and Nick Raskulinecz on bass. They ended the tribute with the actual members of Rush joining Hawkins and co. on stage for a performance of “Tom Sawyer.” Despite his accolades, Hawkins always seemed like a kid in a candy store every time he got on a stage and this homage is no exception.

5. Send Off For Letterman (2015)

When David Letterman decided to hang up his talk show hat, he knew just the band he wanted to help send him off. Rising to the occasion, the Foos headed back to New York to play “Everlong” at Letterman’s request. While donning a full tux, Hawkins can be seen slamming away on the drums in the clip below. “God bless you, gentlemen,” Letterman said after the performance. “Thank you, and good night.”

6. Chevy Metal (2019)

Hawkins started a side project with his longtime friends Wiley Hodgden and Mich Murphy with the impetus to become a “70s dirt-rock cover band.” Chevy Metal, as they called themselves, performed the music of Black Sabbath, Van Halen, and Queen. In 2019, they took the stage at California’s BeachLife Fest where Hawkins does double duty on both the drums and lead vocals. He does David Lee Roth justice on classics like “Hot for Teacher” and “Panama.”

7. Queen’s “Somebody to Love” at MSG (2021)

Not just any singer can sing the notes that Freddie Mercury hits in “Somebody to Love.” Hawkins’ did so effortlessly in the Foo’s recent tours before his death. When the band played Madison Square Garden in June 2021, Hawkins belted out the classic Queen track while Grohl took over on the drums. In the clip below, Hawkins gets swept away in the song and leaves us with the lasting impression that he did it all purely for the love of music.

(Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)

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