“Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we gather here to celebrate the life, music and love of our dear friend, our bandmate, our brother Taylor Hawkins,” Grohl said in an opening address. “For those of you who have known him personally, you know that no one else could make you smile, laugh, dance or sing like him. And for those of you who admired him from afar, I’m sure you all felt the same.”
Hawkins died at age 50 on March 25 in Bogotá, Colombia, hours before the rock band was due 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 Color 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 relationship with Hawkins over the years they performed together, and the former Nirvana drummer wrote that Hawkins was “a man I’d take a bullet for” in his autobiography published last year. The Foo Fighters frontman was choked with emotion while singing the band’s classic song “Times Like These” at the tribute concert. He took a moment to wipe the tears from his face as fans cheered.
Oliver Shane Hawkins, the late drummer’s 16-year-old son, took his father’s seat to drum for the tribute concert version of “My Hero.” Grohl’s 16-year-old daughter, purplecovered Jeff Buckley’s “Last Goodbye” and “Grace” in honor of Hawkins, who she says introduced Buckley’s album to her.
The Grohls and Oliver were completed 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, including Grohl, and rock band James Gang both got together for the concert after more than a decade. And Hawkins’ other bands, Chevy Metal and the Coattail Riders, enlisted Justin Hawkins of pop star Kesha and the Darkness, who is unrelated to Taylor Hawkins, to perform with them on the show.
British DJ Mark Ronson and Travis Barker of Blink-182 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 on September 27, this time in Los Angeles.