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The Inside Look at Taylor Hawkins' Final Days Is Heartbreaking

As sad a read as this was, it was one of the better pieces I've seen on Rolling Stone in a while. So I recommend reading it. I'll highlight the most important parts -

Rolling Stone - In the month and a half since Hawkins’ death, Rolling Stone has interviewed 20 people, including several of the drummer’s best friends, about his career, legacy, and outlook near the end of his life. Prior to Foo Fighters’ supersized post-pandemic comeback — which kicked off last June with vax-mandatory gigs in L.A. and New York’s Madison Square Garden — Hawkins felt hesitant about returning to the road and wasn’t sure he’d be able to remain a full-time member if they continued to tour at this pace, these friends say. Even though he kept himself in decent shape, according to his friends, he felt vexed by the physicality required to play nearly three-hour concerts night after night. (Rolling Stone repeatedly asked Hawkins’ family members and bandmates for interviews for this story. Hawkins’ family declined to comment. Foo Fighters and their management did not want to be interviewed. But through a representative, they dispute Hawkins’ friends’ characterizations of how he was feeling.)

“He had a heart-to-heart with Dave and, yeah, he told me that he ‘couldn’t fucking do it anymore’ — those were his words,” says Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron, a close friend of Hawkins’ for decades who recorded music with him recently under the banner Nighttime Boogie Association, one of Hawkins’ many side projects. “So I guess they did come to some understanding, but it just seems like the touring schedule got even crazier after that.”  (A rep for Foo Fighters denies that Hawkins ever raised these issues, saying “No, there was never a ‘heart-to-heart’ — or any sort of meeting on this topic — with Dave and [Silva Artist Management].”)

“Honestly, I think he was just so tired,” Hawkins’ longtime friend and former boss, singer Sass Jordan, says. “Tired of the whole game.” 

“The fact that he finally spoke to Dave and really told him that he couldn’t do this and that he wouldn’t do it anymore, that was freeing for him,” a colleague and friend of Hawkins’, who asked to remain anonymous, says. “That took fucking balls. That did take a year of working up the guts to do.” While Hawkins’ friends are adamant that he wanted a change, exactly how big a shift Hawkins asked for is a matter of some dispute. A rep for Foo Fighters says, “He never ‘informed Dave and [management]’ of anything at all like that.”

Even though friends say Hawkins told Grohl and Foo Fighters’ management he wanted to scale back, they believe he agreed to continue touring with them to be a team player. “[A band like that] is a big machine [with] a lot of people on the payroll,” Cameron says. “So you’ve got to really be cognizant of the business side of something when it’s that big and that has inherent pressure, just like any business.”

The anonymous friend, who requested that Rolling Stone use the pronoun “they” to describe them, claims that Hawkins was being pressured to play more shows. “He said, ‘I’m just gonna do a couple,'” they say, adding that they believe Hawkins didn’t know fully how many shows he was expected to play. Foo Fighters staged roughly 40 shows last year, and already had nearly 60 more on the books for 2022. 

When Hawkins learned that the group had added a one-off March date in Australia, the anonymous friend says that Hawkins was so upset he called them to vent about it. He told the friend he was given assurances the band would have a lighter schedule going forward. “And he had every reason to believe that would happen,” they say. “He wanted to believe it.” (The Foo Fighters’ rep says Hawkins never indicated he was upset about the Australian date and denies that he expressed any misgivings about the tour schedule, saying there was “definitely no limit” on the number of concerts Hawkins agreed to play. Moreover, the rep says, “The touring schedule had been established and in place for well over a year.”)

“He tried to keep up,” Cameron says. “He just did whatever it took to keep up, and in the end he couldn’t keep up.”

Hawkins told Rolling Stone last June that he was struggling. “I’m really nervous about tonight,” he said on the day of the group’s first comeback show in June. “I have major stage fright — major, major, major. Like, today is, like, I’m in hell right now.”

Beyond talking through his feelings of stage fright, the drummer also expressed that he was “trying really hard to figure out how to continue to keep the intensity of a young man in a 50-year-old’s body, which is very difficult.”

The situation escalated last December when multiple friends say Hawkins lost consciousness on board a plane in Chicago, though news reports from the time described him anonymously as “a member of Foo Fighters.” “He just said he was exhausted and collapsed, and they had to pump him full of IVs and stuff,” his friend, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, says. “He was dehydrated and all kinds of stuff.” (If Hawkins did lose consciousness on the plane, it’s unclear how or why it happened. When asked if Foo Fighters had comment on accounts that Taylor had lost consciousness on the plane, a rep said, “This is not true.”) After the incident, Smith says, Hawkins told him, “I can’t do it like this anymore.”

Sounds like a guy who was very self-aware, and knew what his triggers were, wanted to avoid them and take himself out of harms way, but just couldn't bring himself to do it. Either because he was too loyal to his friends and bandmates (and crew it appears), or because he wasn't strong enough to actually walk away from the only life he'd really known. Either way, this was really crushing to read.

Again, this article is really well done. And long. It basically tells Taylor's life story. Much I didn't know about. Like the fact that his mom took him to his first concert he ever saw when he was just a little kid. And it was Queen. It left such an impression on him that he spent the rest of his life looking up to the band, idolizing Freddie Mercury, and covering their songs like none other every chance he got. 

I also had no idea he was discovered in a dive, Club Lingerie, by Sass Jordan and taken on the road where he met Alanis Morisette's manager who picked him up for her tour. 

Through her shows, he came to meet, and befriend, Grohl, who eventually convinced him to join The Foo. Hawkins was initially scared shitless of playing in Grohl's band, which is why he was so hesitant and needed prodding from the band, because of how talented Grohl was and how high his standards were. But Hawkins rose to the occasion and seemed to get better and better as a drummer the bigger the band got. 

It seemed everybody in the world who knew or came into contact with Hawkins, including this young girl who saw Taylor right before his death, who IDOLIZED him, had nothing but glowing things to say about the man. 

He was caring, his positivity and energy were infectious, and he's already dearly missed.

Rest In Peace.

—-UPDATE —

Matt Cameron’s statement on the piece-