Just weeks after his shocking death at 50, late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins‘ first posthumous release arrived on Friday (April 15) in the form of his guest vocals on a Johnny Winter tribute album. The all-star collection honoring the late Grammy-winning blues guitarist, Brother Johnny, was put together by his younger brother, rock/jazz great Edgar Winter and it features an enormous roster of blues, pop and rock icons paying homage to Johnny.
The song that is sure to catch the most attention, though, is Hawkins’ thunderous vocals on “Guess I’ll Go Away,” the hard-rocking boogie blues tune that appeared on the 1970 album Johnny Winter And. In a note on his site last month, Edgar Winter paid tribute to Hawkins and described the genesis of their bombastic collaboration.
“I had the honor and privilege of working with him as one of the guest artists on my forthcoming but yet to be released tribute album ‘Brother Johnny,’ He did an incredible lead vocal on a song written by Johnny and featuring the phenomenal guitarist in my own band, Doug Rappoport,” Edgar wrote of Hawkins, who was found dead in his hotel room in Colombia on March 25. “It stands out in my mind as the highest energy and hardest rocking song on the entire album. I have always considered it stylistically the most uncharacteristically advanced song Johnny ever wrote, almost a precursor of heavy metal.”
In the note, Winter said because the song had such a hard edge to it, he was looking for a “younger, more energetic, modern approach” to the vocal, which led to the album’s producer, Ross Hogarth, suggesting his old friend Hawkins. “I had only just met Taylor, and barely got to know him, but I was so impressed by his sincerity, positive energy, and pure enthusiasm,” Winter wrote. “He had a unique spontaneous style different from anyone I’ve ever worked with before. I can be very opinionated—but as soon as heard what he was doing, I knew it was best to step back, stay out of the way, and let him do his thing. That session was an experience I will never forget.”
Winter noted that Hawkins refused to talk business and insisted that he didn’t want to get paid for the session but, just wanted to “get out there and Rock. And Rock HE DID! I don’t know if it was out of respect for Johnny, a desire to help me in what I was doing, compassion for the nature of the project, or his friendship with Ross. Most probably all these things—but whatever it was, he gave it His ALL!,” Winter said.
The 17-track, 76-minute Brother Johnny album features a jaw-dropping roster of fellow blues and rock musicians paying tribute to Winter, including Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Derek Trucks and Billy Gibbons, Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr, Michael McDonald, Steve Lukather, Doyle Bramhall II, Phil X, John McFee, Robben Ford, Keb Mo, Bobby Rush, Waddy Wachtel and Gregg Bissonette, among others.
Listen to “Guess I’ll Go Away” below.