Taylor Hawkins was the drummer of alt-rock band Foo Fighters. Over his career, he had also played with Alanis Morissette and his own band. He passed away after suffering sudden cardiac arrest while on tour with his band in March 2022, shortly after his 50th birthday.
How Did Hawkins Die?
Hawkins died in Bogotá, Colombia, on March 25, 2022. The official cause of death given was cardiac arrest. However, questions were raised about the drugs found in Hawkins’ body and whether they or only his severely enlarged heart, contributed to his death.
March 25, 2022
On March 25, 2022, Foo Fighters were staying at the Four Seasons hotel in Bogotá, Colombia. Shortly before 8 o’clock in the evening, paramedics were called to the hotel for an unnamed guest who was experiencing chest pain. That guest was Hawkins.
He was already unresponsive when they arrived. Despite resuscitation efforts, paramedics were unable to revive him; Hawkins was declared dead at the scene. He was 50 years old.
Leading Up To His Death
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Foo Fighters—along with most other bands—were obligated to stop touring. When they hit the road again in 2021, the other members of the band, particularly frontman David Grohl, were delighted to be back. But Hawkins found himself strangely tired by the pace of being on tour. After nearly two years of being home with his family, it was a difficult adaptation.
Hawkins had spent the early part of the pandemic improving his health. He was being conscientious about his vitamin and fluid intake. He had also started biking to take care of his heart. This change happened after his doctor had told him he had an enlarged heart.
At least one friend of Hawkins’ said that the drummer felt nervous about starting to tour again, experiencing stage fright and severe anxiety about being on the road so much. He was also concerned about his own health, especially since Foo Fighters began touring again almost as soon as COVID restrictions were relaxed.
In December 2021, the band played several shows in Las Vegas and California. They were scheduled to fly across the planet at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix; however, the appearance was canceled after Hawkins collapsed on the plane. This was, according to one friend, the time that he expressed the feeling that continuing to tour at such a pace would kill him.
Over the next few months, Foo Fighters performed in Australia; Hawkins also celebrated his 50th birthday. He mentioned fears that he wasn’t a worthy or talented drummer and said that he was tired and his body hurt.
In March 2022, Foo Fighters embarked on their Mexico and South America tour. Five days before Hawkins died, he fronted the band’s performance of Queen’s Somebody to Love at Lollapalooza Argentina.
Colombian officials performed an autopsy of Hawkins, including a urine test. The toxicology report yielded surprising results: the drummer had 10 substances in his system. Among these were antidepressants, marijuana, opioids, and benzodiazepines, which are often taken to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Other reports also stated that a cocaine-like substance had been found in Hawkins’ hotel room.
Most significant, however, was the investigation’s discovery about the drummer’s heart. Hawkins’ heart was indeed enlarged. In fact, it weighed about 600 grams—twice as much as the average human heart. The medical examiner said that his heart was so overworked that it would not have been able to go on much longer, drugs or no drugs.
Friends, family, and bandmates reacted to the news of Hawkins’ toxicology report with shock and bewilderment. Hawkins was known to be resolutely sober—all stemming from an overdose all the way back in 2001.
When he was an up-and-coming musician, Hawkins lived the stereotypical rock n’ roll lifestyle. But then, in 2001, when he was 29 years old, he overdosed and remained in a coma for a week. Grohl, who waited with him in the hospital, was intensely worried.
But the experience served as a wake-up call for Hawkins, who was determined never to scare his friends in the same way again. He promised Grohl that there would be no more drugs. And he kept his word. Four years later, in 2005, Hawkins married his wife and started his family. He never showed any further evidence of using drugs—he was rarely even known to drink, only occasionally having a beer with his friends.
The toxicology report was a mystery to the other members of the band. At least one of them said they didn’t believe that it was accurate and that they could more easily believe there was a mistake than that Hawkins had been using hard drugs again.
Hawkins’ body was transported from Colombia back to his family in the United States. Foo Fighters canceled the remaining shows on their South America tour and returned home. They were photographed being greeted by their manager in a tearful reunion at the Los Angeles airport.
On the night of his death, Hawkins had been scheduled to appear with Foo Fighters in Bogotá. Instead, with the news of his death and the cancellation of the show, fans held a candlelit vigil for him outside the hotel.
Many musicians who had worked with Hawkins expressed their grief over his death. These included Dave Grohl as well as Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Elton John, and Queen drummer Roger Taylor. Alanis Morissette, with whom Hawkins had played before joining Foo Fighters permanently, also honored him during a live performance.
Hawkins’ body was transported back to the United States, where it was cremated. According to some reports, his family scattered his ashes in the ocean in a private service.
Foo Fighters later performed a live concert in tribute to their friend and bandmate, with Hawkins’ son Oliver joining them on drums. Many other bands and musicians appeared to honor the late drummer, including Paul McCartney, Queen, Metallica, and Stewart Copeland of The Police.
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