When the Red Hot Chili Peppers take the stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 1, the band will honor the legacy and spirit of late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins.
RHCP, who last played Jazz Fest in 2016, are stepping in to fill the Foos’ slot after Hawkins died March 25 in Bogota, Colombia, while the Foo Fighters were on tour. The Foo Fighters subsequently canceled the rest of their 2022 shows.
For Hawkins’ good friend and fellow drummer RHCP’s Chad Smith, the gig is a chance to celebrate Hawkins.
“We’re taking Alison, his wife, with us and it’s going to be a celebration,” Smith tells Billboard. “That’s what she wants. She doesn’t want it to be anything other than, ‘Let’s celebrate music, let’s celebrate our friends, let’s celebrate Taylor. This is what he would want and he would be very happy that you guys are playing and he would want it be nothing but a positive experience.’ So we’re going to do all that and she’s going to be part of that and I’m very honored that we can do that with her. … We’re going to play our hearts out.”
The history and friendship between the two bands goes back decades, including the Foo Fighters opening for the Chili Peppers on the latter’s Californication tour in 1999. Following Hawkins’ death, Smith posted an emotional video filled with footage of the two musicians together over the years and clearly relishing each other’s company. The video ends with Smith giving a nod to Hawkins when RHCP received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 31.
Smith calls Hawkins’ death “shocking,” but strongly feels his energy still exists, even if it’s on another plane. “His essence of his creative energy is out in another universe somewhere and he was able to express that here in his short life,” Smith says. “Wherever he is, I feel strongly and believe that he is doing his Taylor Hawkins as only he can. He’s doing that somewhere else and giving that love and life to everybody wherever he is now that he did here. So that gives me a little bit of comfort, but I miss the f— out of him.”