“Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we’ve gathered here to celebrate the life, the music and the love of our dear friend, our bandmate, our brother Taylor Hawkins,” Grohl said in an opening speech. “For those of you who knew him personally, you know that no one else could make you smile or laugh or dance or sing like he could. And for those of you that admired him from afar, I’m sure you’ve all felt the same thing.”
Hawkins died at age 50 on March 25 in Bogotá, Colombia, hours before the rock band was set to perform at the Festival Estéreo Picnic as part of its South American tour. He joined the Foo Fighters in 1997 on the band’s tour for “The Colour and The Shape” and contributed to the 15 Grammys the band has won since its inception. The group, known for songs such as “Best of You” and “Learn To Fly,” was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year.
Grohl, 53, developed a close connection with Hawkins over the years they performed together, and the former Nirvana drummer wrote that Hawkins was “a man for whom I would take a bullet” in his autobiography published last year. The Foo Fighters frontman was choked up with emotion in the middle of singing the band’s classic song “Times Like These” during the tribute concert. He took a moment to wipe tears from his face as fans cheered in support.
Oliver Shane Hawkins, the late drummer’s 16-year-old son, took his father’s seat to drum for the tribute concert rendition of “My Hero.” Grohl’s 16-year-old daughter, Violet, covered Jeff Buckley’s “Last Goodbye” and “Grace” to honor Hawkins, who she said introduced Buckley’s album to her.
The Grohls and Oliver were rounded out by a circle of musical legends who came to pay their respects to the drummer. Among them were Queen’s Roger Taylor and Brian May, AC/DC singer Brian Johnson and producer/musician Nile Rodgers. Alternative rock group Them Crooked Vultures, which included Grohl, and rock band James Gang both reunited for the concert after more than a decade apart. And Hawkins’s other bands, Chevy Metal and the Coattail Riders, called on pop star Kesha and the Darkness’s Justin Hawkins, who has no relation to Taylor Hawkins, to perform with them during the show.
British DJ Mark Ronson and Blink-182’s Travis Barker were also part of the star-studded lineup, with comedians Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock making special appearances.
The Foo Fighters will hold another tribute concert, this time in Los Angeles, on Sept. 27.