“It’s times like these you give and give again,” the Grammy winner, 53, tried to sing, with his voice breaking on the final two words. Grohl paused for about 30 seconds to wipe tears off his face, shook his head against the microphone and collected himself before returning to singing. Josh Freese handled the drum solo originated by Hawkins, who died in March.
Various drummers stepped in for the late musician during Foo Fighters’ songs. Travis Barker played during “Monkey Wrench” and “The Pretender” while Hawkins’ son Shane Hawkins, 16, (born Oliver Shane Hawkins) was behind the drum kit for “My Hero.” Rufus Taylor (son of Queen’s Roger Taylor) was drumming for “These Days” while viral 12-year-old Nandi Bushnell joined the band for “Learn to Fly.”
Taylor died at age 50 on March 25. The Texas native was on tour with the band in Bogotá, Colombia, when he passed away. Shortly before his death, Taylor allegedly suffered chest pain, resulting in an ambulance being dispatched to his hotel.
“The Foo Fighters family is devastated by the tragic and untimely loss of our beloved Taylor Hawkins,” the group wrote via a Twitter statement at the time. “His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever. Our hearts go out to his wife, children and family, and we ask that their privacy be treated with the utmost respect in this unimaginably difficult time.”
Alison Hawkins, who was the drummer’s spouse and shared children Shane, Annabelle and Everleigh with him, released her first statement more than two months later.
“As Taylor’s wife, and on behalf of our children, I want to share how much you meant to him and how dedicated he was to ‘knocking your socks off’ during every performance. Taylor was honored to be a part of the Foo Fighters and valued his dream role in the band every minute of his 25 years with them. We considered every band member and the extended Foo Fighters team our family,” she wrote, in part, at the time. “Taylor’s endearing spirit and deep love of music will live on forever through the collaborations he so enjoyed having with other musicians and the catalog of songs he contributed to and created.”
After her statement, two tribute shows were announced with one one at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday and a second set for September in Los Angeles.
“Tonight we’ve gathered with family and his closest friends, his musical heroes and greatest inspirations to bring you a gigantic f–king night for a gigantic f–king person,” Grohl told the London audience on Saturday. “So, sing and dance and laugh and cry and f–king scream and make some f–king noise, so he can hear us right now. Cause you know what? It’s gonna be a long f–king night. Are you ready?”
The first concert was truly a star-studded event, bringing in Paul McCartney, Liam Gallagher, Kesha, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and many more for musical tributes while celebs including Dave Chapelle and Jason Sudeikis shared anecdotes about Hawkins between sets.
“We sat down, and we said, ‘Even if it’s his closest friends, that’s, like, 100 f–king musicians,’ right?” Grohl explained to the sold-out stadium of planning the memorial shows. “Because Taylor loved to jam and record with anybody and everybody. He loved to play music every day, and there aren’t too many people he’s never jammed with. So, this collection of friends, family and musicians, this is all brought together by him, and we’re all connected here today by that one guy, bringing musicians that have never met, musicians that have never played together, all in one place at one time with all of you beautiful people, so make some f–king noise for Taylor Hawkins.”
Paramount made a livestream of the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert available and the show is available to watch on YouTube in its entirety, coming in at just over six hours long.