Taylor Hawkins was a Foo Fighter first and foremost.
Before his sudden and shocking death on Friday (March 25), the 50-year-old musician logged 25 years, eight studio albums and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction with the group. During that time, he arguably became the second most-recognized member of the Foo Fighters next to Dave Grohl. It will forever be the first entry in his legacy. But as the saying goes, there is more.
Before and beyond the Foos was a wealth of other musical experiences, ranging from his own side projects to collaborations. Each project was memorable in its own way and part of what made Hawkins one of the most celebrate and genuinely liked figures in rock ‘n’ roll.
On the occasion of his passing, here are 10 things that merit remembering and investigating.
Alanis Morissette: After drumming for Sass Jordan, Hawkins joined Morissette’s touring band Sexual Chocolate for nearly two years (June 1995-March 1997). During that time, he toured the world with the Canadian singer as she supported her breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill. Hawkins also appearing in the Jagged Little Pill, Live home video and music videos for “You Oughta Know,” “You Learn” and “All I Really Want.”
Chevy Metal: A self-described “’70s dirt rock cover band” Hawkins formed with friends Wiley Hodgden and Mick Murphy circa 2001, while Grohl was working with Eagles of Death Metal. The troupe specialized in deep cuts off albums by Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Queen and The Rolling Stones, to name a few. The act also specialized in private parties and special events, including Saturday Night Live‘s 2013 wrap party in New York, where Mick Jagger joined for some Stones songs, and the pre-party for Metallica’s second Orion Music + More festival that same year.
“It’s like a fishing trip with your friends. It’s just fun,” Hawkins said at that time. “All those are bands that influenced me to begin with, but to really dig into those arrangements musically is a blast. It’s a way to keep my hands moving when I’m not doing Foo Fighters stuff.”
The Coattail Riders: Hawkins launched his side project in 2004, with a lineup that included Chris Chaney from Jane’s Addiction and Sexual Chocolate. The group grew out of “just messing around with my friend Drew Hester at his house,” according to Hawkins. “We were having fun; I felt like there was a certain amount of energy and joy in the music. And after, like, two or three songs I decided, ‘F—, it sounds like we’re making a record,’ for better or worse.” With the record company insisting he put his name in front of the band, Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders released three albums, which featured guest appearances by Grohl, Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, The Cars’ Elliot Easton, Perry Farrell and Yes frontman Jon Davison, a school friend of Hawkins’.
SOS Allstars: Hawkins was part of the ad hoc drum supergroup that played during the 2007 Live Earth concert in London. He was one of three “lead” drummers, along with Queen’s Taylor and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith. They were joined by nearly 40 other percussionists from around the world for a performance arranged by Andy Gangadeen.
Coheed and Cambria: After Coheed drummer Josh Eppard left the group, Hawkins filled the void for the band’s 2007 album, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World For Tomorrow. Eppard’s replacement Chris Pennie wrote the drum parts, but contractual issues related to Pennie’s previous band Dillinger Escape Plan prevented him from recording at the time. Hawkins also toured with Coheed for a time after the album’s release.
CBGB: In addition to his various Foo Fighters film appearances (Back and Forth, Sonic Highways, Studio 666), Hawkins portrayed Iggy Pop in this 2013 drama about the famed New York City club credited as ground zero for punk rock during the 1970s.
The Birds of Satan: Hawkins exercised his love for progressive-style hard rock in this trio, whose lone album — a self-titled effort in 2014 — blasted off with the nine-and-a-half minute “The Ballad of the Birds of Satan.” The rest of the set included homages to Aerosmith, David Bowie, Queen, Alice Cooper, Wings and others. “It’s a melange,” Hawkins told Billboard at the time. “I hope it’s not so on the nose that, ‘Oh, they’re trying to sound like Van Halen’ or ‘They’re trying to sound like Queen,’ but it’s there, you know? And I wear them heavily on my sleeve, my influences. So if someone says, ‘This sounds like Queen,’ I got, ‘OK. Great.’ It’s in my DNA. I’m under the influence, no question.” Foos mates Grohl, Rami Jaffee and Pat Smear guest on The Birds of Satan, along with Davison.
“Holy Man”: Hawkins was tapped to complete this unfinished song by the Beach Boys’ late Dennis Wilson as a single for Record Store Day in 2019. Queen’s May and Taylor helped out.
Other sessions: Those doing a deep dive into Hawkins can also find him on former Jane’s Addiction bassist Eric Avery’s Help Wanted, Kerry Ellis’ Wicked in Rock, Harmony & Dissidence by Foos guitarist Chris Shiflett’s Jackson United, Slash’s self-titled 2019 solo album, and on the 2013 single “L’uomo piu semplice” by Italian singer Vasco Rossi.
NHC: Hawkins teamed with Chaney and his Jane’s Addiction mate Dave Navarro in this “supergroup” that he described as “somewhere between Rush and the Faces.” The band made its live debut during Eddie Vedder’s Ohana Festival last September (with Foos’ Smear joining its ranks) and has reportedly recorded an album, which is expected out this year.