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Taylor Hawkins, for 25 years the drummer for Foo Fighters and best friend of frontman Dave Grohl, has died during a South American tour with the rock band. He was 50.
There were few immediate details on how Hawkins died, although the band said in a statement Friday that his death was a “tragic and untimely loss.”
Colombia’s Prosecutor’s Office released a statement Saturday saying toxicological tests on urine from Hawkins’ body preliminarily found 10 psychoactive substances and medicines, including marijuana, opioids, tricyclic antidepressants and benzodiazepines. It did not provide a cause of death and investigations are continuing.
Foo Fighters had been scheduled to play at a festival in Bogota, Colombia, on Friday night. Hawkins’ final concert was Sunday at another festival in San Isidro, Argentina.
“His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever,” said a message on the band’s official Twitter account that was also emailed to reporters. “Our hearts go out to his wife, children and family.”
The Bogota municipal government issued a statement Saturday that the city’s emergency center had received a report of a patient with “chest pain” and sent an ambulance, though a private ambulance had already arrived at the hotel in northern Bogota.
Health workers tried to revive him, but were unable to do so.
“It was a band I grew up with. This leaves me empty,” Juan Sebastian Anchique, 23, told The Associated Press as he mourned Hawkins outside the hotel.
The U.S. Embassy in Bogota also expressed its condolences in a tweet.
After Grohl, Hawkins was the most recognizable member of the group, appearing alongside the lead singer in interviews and playing prominent, usually comic, roles in the band’s memorable videos and their recent horror-comedy film, “Studio 666.”
Hawkins was Alanis Morissette’s touring drummer when he joined Foo Fighters in 1997. He played on the band’s biggest albums including “One by One” and “In Your Honor,” and on hit singles like “Best of You.”
In Grohl’s 2021 book “The Storyteller,” he called Hawkins his “brother from another mother, my best friend, a man for whom I would take a bullet.”
“Upon first meeting, our bond was immediate, and we grew closer with every day, every song, every note that we ever played together,” Grohl wrote. “We are absolutely meant to be, and I am grateful that we found each other in this lifetime.”
It’s the second time Grohl has experienced the death of a close bandmate. Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana when Kurt Cobain died in 1994.
Tributes poured out on social media for Hawkins.
“God bless you Taylor Hawkins,” Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello said on Twitter along with a photo of himself, Hawkins and Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell. “I loved your spirit and your unstoppable rock power.”
“What an incredible talent, who didn’t also need to be so kind and generous and cool but was all those things too anyway,” tweeted Finneas, Billie Eilish’s brother, co-writer and producer. “The world was so lucky to have his gifts for the time that it did.”
At the festival where Foo Fighters had been scheduled to perform, news of the death leaked out slowly, said Diego Báez, a 33-year-old fan.
A concert organizer first announced the performance was cancelled for medical reasons. Minutes later, fans learned from social media of Hawkins’ death.
“Some cried. Others were sad, astonished, moved. It was a very powerful moment,” Baez said.
A screen projected the words “Taylor Hawkins forever” while the song “My Hero” played.
Born Oliver Taylor Hawkins in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1972, Hawkins was raised in Laguna Beach, California. He played in the small Southern California band Sylvia before landing his first major gig as a drummer for Canadian singer Sass Jordan.
Hawkins told The Associated Press in 2019 that his early drumming influences included Stewart Copeland of The Police, Roger Taylor from Queen, and Phil Collins, who he said was “one of my favorite drummers ever. You know, people forget that he was a great drummer as well as a sweater-wearing nice guy from the ’80s, poor fella.”
When he spent two years in the mid-1990s drumming for Morissette, he was inspired primarily by the playing of Jane’s Addiction’s Stephen Perkins.
“My drums were set up like him, the whole thing,” Hawkins told the AP. “I was still sort of a copycat at that point. It takes a while and takes a little while to sort of establish your own sort of style. I didn’t sound exactly like him, I sound like me, but he was a big, huge influence.”
He and Grohl met backstage at a show when Hawkins was still with Morissette. Grohl’s band would have an opening soon after when then-drummer William Goldsmith left. Grohl called Hawkins, who was a huge Foo Fighters fan and immediately accepted.
“I am not afraid to say that our chance meeting was a kind of love at first sight, igniting a musical ‘twin flame’ that still burns to this day,” Grohl wrote in his book. “Together, we have become an unstoppable duo, onstage and off, in pursuit of any and all adventure we can find.”
Hawkins first appeared with the band in the 1997 video for Foo Fighters’ most popular song, “Everlong,” although he had yet to join the group when the song was recorded. He would, however, go on to pound out epic versions of it hundreds of times as the climax of Foo Fighters’ concerts.
In another highlight of the group’s live shows, Grohl would get behind the drums and Hawkins would grab the mic to sing a cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.”
“The best part of getting to be the lead singer of the Foo Fighters for just for one song is I really do have the greatest rock ‘n’ roll drummer on the planet earth,” Hawkins said before the song in a March 18 concert in Chile.
Grohl can be heard telling him to shut up.
Hawkins also costarred in Foo Fighters’ recently released film, “Studio 666,” in which a demonic force in a house where the band is staying seizes Grohl and makes him murderous. Hawkins and the other members of the band are killed off one by one. The premise came out of their work on their 10th studio album at a home in Los Angeles.
He also drummed and sang for the side-project trio Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders. They released an album, “Get the Money,” in 2006.
Hawkins is survived by his wife Alison and their three children.