Taylor Hawkins, who served for 25 years as the legendary drummer for rock band Foo Fighters, has died. The band released a statement earlier tonight, announcing his “tragic and untimely loss.” No cause of death has been revealed. Hawkins was 50.
Born in Texas, and raised in California, Hawkins got his start as a touring drummer; one of his first major gigs was a two-year stint as the drummer for Alanis Morissette on multiple tours, including the one in support of her massively successful Jagged Little Pill. But when Hawkins’ acquaintance (and fellow drummer) Dave Grohl approached him for recommendations for a replacement for outgoing Foo Fighters drummer William Goldsmith, Hawkins skipped the recommendations, and simply put his own name forward. (Grohl reportedly hadn’t even bothered to ask, considering how much bigger a name Alanis Morissette was at the time than Foo Fighters.)
Hawkins would spend the next 25 years with the band, appearing on their third album, There Is Nothing Left To Lose, forward. It’s a tenure that saw him win Grammys, international success, and the title of one of the world’s best drummers—not an easy distinction to carve out for oneself when you’re sharing a stage with Dave Grohl. (Grohl did some drumming on There Is Nothing, but ultimately ceded the seat to Hawkins permanently on the band’s next album, One By One.)
In addition to his drumming, Hawkins was also a deeply involved member of Foo Fighters, period, sharing songwriting duties, taking on vocals, and becoming a huge part of the group’s identity throughout his long tenure with it. He is, in other words, a huge part of how the band transformed from a Grohl solo project into a cohesive and hugely influential rock band—even beyond being a man talented enough for Grohl to cede custody of the drum part on “Everlong” to him. (In an interview from earlier this year with Sammy Hagar, the pair—who spoke often on their friendship—were quizzed on “greatest drummer of all time.” Hawkins shot back an instant “Dave Grohl,” while Grohl was just as quick with his “Taylor Hawkins.”)
Across that same long era, Hawkins also pursued a number of side and solo projects, most notably Taylor Hawkins And The Coattail Riders, with whom he released three albums, and The Birds Of Satan, an outgrowth of his cover band Chevy Metal. Which is to say that he played and sang relentlessly throughout his career, the kind of guy for whom being in one of the biggest rock bands of all time simply couldn’t be enough music.
Hawkins reportedly died on Friday night in Bogotá, Colombia, where the band was on the final leg of a South American tour. “His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on in all of us forever,” the band wrote in its statement. “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.