By Aya Elamroussi, Michelle Watson and Jason Hanna, CNN
Taylor Hawkins, the golden-locked musician who for more than two decades drummed for the Foo Fighters on their way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, has died, the band said Friday — an announcement made shortly before the group was to play in Colombia. He was 50.
The cause of death was not disclosed.
“The Foo Fighters family is devastated by the tragic and untimely loss of our beloved Taylor Hawkins. His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever,” the band said on Twitter. “Our hearts go out to his wife, children and family, and we ask that their privacy be treated with the utmost respect in this unimaginable difficult time.”
On Friday, the band was scheduled to perform in Bogotá for the Festival Estereo Picnic, followed by Lollapalooza Brasil on Sunday, according to its website.
Friday’s performance was canceled just as fans were gathering at 11 p.m., according to Romeo Reyes, who told CNN he traveled from El Salvador to Bogotá to attend the festival.
“We were getting into position when they announced that the Foo Fighters would not be performing, but they didn’t say why. About 10 minutes later, the news broke that Taylor had died,” Reyes said.
“No one knew the reason for the cancellation. … We were all sad. But like I said, nobody knew that Taylor had died. We found out about 10 to 15 minutes later,” he said.
Later, candles were placed on the main stage as a vigil for Hawkins, and the screens on five stages projected the message, “Taylor Hawkins Por Siempre,” which translates as “Taylor Hawkins Forever.”
News of Hawkins’ death came a day after the band announced it would take the stage at the Grammy Awards in Las Vegas on April 3.
Hawkins’ beginnings with the Foo Fighters, and as a musician
The Foo Fighters were formed in 1994 by Dave Grohl, who had been the drummer with Nirvana.
Three years later, with drummer William Goldsmith departing, Texas-born Hawkins joined the band after previously being the drummer with the Alanis Morissette band.
In 2019, Hawkins recalled to British magazine Kerrang! how he got the job: He’d heard Goldsmith had departed, and he gave Grohl — an acquaintance he’d met on the road — a call.
“I said, ‘I heard you guys are looking for a dummer,’ and he said, ‘Well, do you know any?’ I thought Alanis wanted to go in a more laid-back direction, and it seemed like the right time to jump. Alanis didn’t need me! I basically said to Dave, ‘I’ll play drums for you,’ and we jammed a couple times,” Hawkins told Kerrang!
In an interview with Anderson Cooper for “60 Minutes” in 2014, Grohl talked about Hawkins’ impact on the group.
“When you have a drummer like Taylor Hawkins in your band, I don’t necessarily miss being the drummer — because I have the greatest drummer in the world,” Grohl said. “Taylor is a much more technically minded drummer than I am.”
In the same interview, Hawkins acknowledged that it took him a while to find his place in the band but that Grohl “never made it hard.”
He also spoke about his first musical love, the British band Queen.
“I wanted to be Roger Taylor and I wanted to be in Queen,” Hawkins said. “I wanted to play stadiums when I was 10 years old.”
Seeing Queen for the first time in California at that age, he told Kerrang!, changed everything. He then listened to Rush, The Police, Genesis and Van Halen as he learned drumming, he told the magazine.
“It was such a good time to be influenced by drummers,” he told Kerrang! “I would steal stuff wholesale from Neil Peart licks, to Phil Collins and Alex Van Halen. Even the stuff that was on the radio, there was so much good music.”
The Foo Fighters were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, its first year of eligibility.
Hawkins’ final performance was at Lollapalooza Argentina on March 20. News of his death prompted an outpouring of sorrow on social media from fans and fellow musicians — and tributes included videos of that last show.
Concertgoer Franco Tolone tweeted footage of Hawkins singing a cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” in that March 20 appearance.
“Who would have thought that we were witnessing the last performance of Taylor Hawkins in his life… A shock. Goodbye, beast of music,” Tolone’s post reads.
Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello tweeted: “God bless you Taylor Hawkins. I loved your spirit and your unstoppable rock power. Rest In Peace my friend.”
Miley Cyrus, who is scheduled to perform in at the Lollapalooza Brasil on Saturday, said on Instagram she would dedicate her performance in São Paulo to Hawkins.
She also shared a photo of Hawkins playing the drums, captioning it, “This is how I’ll always remember you.”
Ringo Starr tweeted: “God bless Taylor peace and love to all his family and the band peace and love.”
And singer Ozzy Osbourne spoke on Hawkins’ character, saying he was “was truly a great person and an amazing musician.”
“My heart, my love and my condolences go out to his wife, his children, his family, his band and his fans. See you on the other side,” Osbourne wrote on Twitter.
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CNN’s Sara Smart, David de Sola and Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.