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Taylor Hawkins Taught Us How To EXPERIENCE Our Lives

Taylor-Hawkins
Taylor Hawkins in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo Credit: Christopher Mark

By now the news of Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins, has flooded your news feed.  His unexpected passing made the entire world gasp collectively as they didn’t want to believe the news.

As I read their Instagram post I kept thinking it was some sort of weird joke they were playing since the release of Studio 666–but this clearly wasn’t the case when I finished the post and read it again in disbelief.

The moment I read this news, I immediately took a screenshot of the post and sent it off to Larry McFeelie. His response: “HOLY SHIT!”

Like, what else can you even say? I think just about everyone said the same thing. What could really be said in this moment?

My response was equally short when I said, “I’m speechless.”

While I was trying to gather my thoughts, the 8 O’Clock Shuffle was finishing its third song and all I knew was that I had to stop right there and interject. With news of this caliber, I just had to hope that what I was about to share wasn’t going to come back and bite me in the ass like it has with the passing of other musicians. The news was fresh, but I knew in my heart of hearts that it was true because this statement was on all the social media platforms for the Foo Fighters.

The third song on the Shuffle finished and I cracked the microphone open and read the Foo Fighters statement.

What was a 15 second statement read aloud felt like it took an eternity. With my voice cracking and holding back every emotion possible, I finished the statement in disbelief while introducing the final song of the 8 O’Clock Shuffle–a Foo Fighters song called “Home”.

The Foo Fighters Song “Home” Was Not Written For This Moment, But It Is Almost Like Taylor’s Sendoff

“Home” was the first Foo Fighters song that I listened to over and over from the album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. I had always felt that song was not only a masterpiece musically, but it was profound lyrically. Grohl’s writing is equally perceptive and denotes what we should appreciate most:

Life.

The final phrase of this song speaks to just about anyone who might have gone through any type of loss and it’s why I believe it hits especially hard since learning of Taylor’s passing:

People I’ve loved, have no regrets.
Some might remember, some might forget.
Some of them living, some of them dead.
All I want, is to be home.

There are so many great Foo Fighters songs that I could have played in that moment, but “Home”–a deep album cut that is only recognizable to audiophiles and super fans–was my split second decision to make sure it got the love on the radio to celebrate Taylor.

 

Taylor Was the Champion of the Human Experience

When the album Wasting Light was released, I remember buying the documentary of Back and Forth because I am particularly interested in a band’s creation of an album. But the documentary covered more than the making of Wasting Light. You got to see the growing pains of the band and how each member evolved into one of the most influential bands ever.

Inside that documentary, guitarist Chris Shiftlett recounts the moment when the band decided it was time to get serious about building a show that would entertain audiences.  And guess who he credits?

Taylor.

Where would the Foo Fighters be today without this encouragement from Taylor?

As a huge fan of Queen, Taylor dissected the properties of what makes a good show for an audience by watching some of the greats. He stated in a 60 Minutes interview that he knew he wanted to play in a rock band like Roger Taylor of Queen. The bar was set and it’s what you would see to this day if you ever went to a Foo Fighters show.

 

Stepping Out Of Dave’s Shadow

If you have been a Foo Fighters fan since the beginning days, you knew there was some unwritten pressure that came with drumming with Dave Grohl. Both individuals have spoken of this topic countless times and admit that there was an adjustment period before Dave and Taylor could make things work without feeling like they were stepping on each other’s toes.

Personally, I believe that Taylor’s talent did the talking in order for him to step out of that shadow–yet in the same breath I believe that Dave allowed himself to give up that control and make an intention to include Taylor into a lot of the big interviews they ever did.  This is how we got to know Taylor for the human that he was.

In interviews, you saw Dave and Taylor’s camaraderie, but you could tell they understood each other in every interview they did.  It was as though fate made sure these two talents would be connected for the duration.

Taylor and The Entire Band Made You Feel Like You’re One of Them

If you have ever been to a Foo Fighters show, you know that in recent times they have invited members of the audience to get up and jam with them. Like the time they invited “Kiss Guy” up to the stage and he blew the entire band away with his keen and precise axe skills–it was enough for Dave and company to have their minds blow away on stage as they tried to get through the song on their own.

 
If you have ever left a Foo Fighters show with a feeling that is more than exhilaration, you know that you got your money’s worth after the night. But as you left the show you felt more than just getting what you bargained for.  You felt like you got to “hang” with the band for a 3 hour set.

The Foo Fighters have taken themselves seriously when it comes to making music, but just as serious when it came to connecting with the fans. Whether it was the early days of MTV interviews with Taylor and Dave or ridiculous music videos like “Walk,” you felt like you were a part of the band.

Living Every Single Day Like It’s Your Last

I can’t remember where I saw it, but I once saw an interview where Dave talked about living every single day to the fullest like it was your final day on Earth.

That sentiment has stuck with me for years and I believe it’s the same energy that he encouraged in the Foo Fighters. It has never been Dave up on stage giving it his all for 3 hours a night. It’s the entire band–including Taylor.

If Taylor wasn’t behind the drum kit, he was out front singing Queen tunes because he knew where we were all coming from when it came to seeing a live show. He wasn’t just this badass musician. He has always been a fan of music and continued until his last moments on this Earth.

 

In my 20+ years working for KUPD I have been through the Chris Cornells, Layne Staleys, Chester Benningtons, Dimebag Darrells…the list goes on.

And with the passing of every great musician, I have to remind myself these these core tenets that are taught by musicians who leave their mark on our lives:

  1. Celebrate moments of success and defeat every single day. Without the defeats, you won’t see your success if you can’t learn from your mistakes. The Foo Fighters proved this early in their career when fights between Taylor and Dave boiled over but resolved themselves to become a stronger band.
  2. Value those you care about by showing them with your actions. I think the Foo Fighters have displayed this throughout their entire career. A band doesn’t become successful if they don’t share their care and concern for each other. It’s through actions that help you become closer and stronger. This means having heart-to-heart talks and being honest with one another.  This is what makes for great music.
  3. Don’t dwell on what has left this Earth. Celebrate the imprint someone has left behind and do it loudly. Taylor has made this impact on the entire world. No matter his passing, this man knew that if the day ever came where he would leave this Earth, he would want people to celebrate the legacy of the Foo Fighters and how the music has impacted generations.  Do him a favor and celebrate him by celebrating his music.

I leave you with this final thought:

Taylor’s passing is so new that we should respect this tragic event and not speculate on how he passed. In time, we will learn.

Instead, let’s respect the privacy of Taylor’s family and the Foo Fighters by sharing positive memories of Taylor.  I can’t possibly imagine how this has crushed everyone involved and it would be understandable if the Foo Fighters take a break from touring.

After all, the Foo Fighters have given us so much throughout the years. The least we could do is give them the same respect in return.