Taylor Hawkins died last night, at the age of 50. The Foo Fighters drummer leaves behind one hell of a legacy—through his music, obviously, and his talents as one of the all-time great rock drummers—but also the connections he forged, both with fans, and with the contemporaries and heroes he came into contact with throughout his 25-year run with the band.
Those connections have been in obvious abundance over the last 12 hours, as many of the biggest names in the world of music have come forward to share memories and stories of Hawkins, who is described, with almost unerring consistency, as the brightest and friendliest face in almost any room of professional musicians you could care to name.
Among those speaking out online today are many of the heroes Hawkins himself was always quick to name when asked about his influences, perhaps, most notably, Brian May of Queen. (Hawkins was a soul-deep Queen fan; he spoke in interviews about the impact News Of The World had on him as a kid, and a regular part of the Foo Fighters setlist saw him and Dave Grohl swap places so that Hawkins could belt out a cover of “Somebody To Love.”) May’s Instagram response to the news of Hawkins’ death was to the point in its grief: “No. It cannot be. Heartbroken. Taylor, you were family to us. Our friend, our brother, our beloved child. Bless you. We will miss you so bad.”
Really, though, the list of people paying tribute to Hawkins today plays like a Rock Hall Of Fame in miniature: Ringo Starr, Johnny Marr, Tony Iommi, Lars Ulrich, Mick Jagger, Tom Morello, Axl Rose, Ozzy Osbourne, Brian Wilson, Questlove, Travis Barker, Sheila E (as well as the estate of Prince, a noted Foo Fighters fan) all moved to social media this weekend to express their sadness and condolences at Hawkins’ death. That includes musicians from a much younger generation, too: The parentally-managed Twitter account of young drummer Nandi Bushell, who’s had a playful rivalry with Foo Fighters online, posted, “Thank you for looking after me, thank you for being so kind and loving, thank you for being the most awesome drummer ever, thank you for bringing so much joy to the world, thank you for being you!”
Fan outpourings have been just as strident, obviously, with people across the planet reminiscing about what Hawkins’ music and good cheer meant to them. Among the many moments people have been sharing on social media, one favorite has appeared frequently: That time Hawkins and the rest of the band took time out of their days to dunk on the bigots of the Westboro Baptist Church, turning a drive-by Rickrolling into an impromptu dance party in defiance of the church’s homophobic views.
Many have expressed, in particular, their sorrow for Grohl, Hawkins’ close friend and collaborator for two and a half decades. Grohl, understandably, has yet to issue any statement beyond the official one that the band used to announce Hawkins’ death last night. But excerpts from his recent autobiography, The Storyteller, have been circulating widely today, most notably this passage:
Tearing through the room like an F5 tornado of hyperactive joy was Taylor Hawkins, my brother from another mother, my best friend, a man for whom I would take a bullet. Upon first meeting, our bond was immediate, and we grew closer with every day, every song, every note that we played together. I am not afraid to say that our chance meeting was a kind of love at first sight, igniting a musical “twin flame” that still burns to this day. Together, we have become an unstoppable duo, onstage and off, in pursuit of any and all adventure we can find. We are absolutely meant to be, and I am grateful that we found each other in this lifetime.