Foo Fighters Drummer Taylor Hawkins' Untimely Death Explained

When the Foo Fighters canceled their Festival Estéreo Picnic concert in Bogotá, Columbia, as fans were starting to show up, they weren't given a reason why. Minutes later, however, the band announced in a tweet the devastating news: their drummer, Taylor Hawkins, had died.

"We were getting into position when they announced that the Foo Fighters would not be performing," Romeo Reyes, a fan who had traveled to Bogotá for the concert, told CNN. "About 10 minutes later, the news broke that Taylor had died." Fans who had gathered for the late-night concert covered the stage that the band would have performed on in candles while the message "Taylor Hawkins Por Siempre" — Spanish for "Taylor Hawkins Forever" — was projected onto the screens. Fans also placed candles and flowers outside the hotel where the drummer had died, per ET Online.

"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 unimaginably difficult time."

Only 50 at the time of his death, Hawkins had been a member of the Foo Fighters since 1997, following his time as Alanis Morissette's drummer during the height of her "Jagged Little Pill" popularity, per Rolling Stone.

Taylor Hawkins had massive stage fright

Taylor Hawkins was an amazing drummer who, like so many, suffered from anxiety. For Hawkins, his anxiety manifested in massive stage fright, despite his talent and the band's success.

From his stage presence, you couldn't tell Hawkins was petrified to be up there. A lot of this came from his chemistry with Dave Grohl. In an interview with The Guardian, Hawkins explained how the two would "get into these battles live, guitar versus drums" and swap, with Grohl taking the drums while Hawkins went out front to handle the vocals.

But just because it looked effortless, doesn't mean it was. In his final interview with Rolling Stone, Hawkins admitted to having stage fright. "I have major stage fright, major, major, major," he explained. "I'm in hell right now," he told the interviewer, talking about a show he'd have to perform that night. For him, it felt like, "everything in my body is wrong. My leg doesn't feel right ... like all these kind of crazy psychosis kind of things." He also mentioned this was how he was feeling even just for "a little club show."

But when the interviewer asked if Hawkins had to be "totally sober" in order to perform, he answered: "Oh my God, dude. You see what I do. Yeah, for good results, yeah." It's hard to imagine what Hawkins would've been feeling about playing in a major festival.

Taylor Hawkins' drug history may have factored into his death

At time this article is being written, no official cause of death for Taylor Hawkins has been released. However, The Metropolitan Police of Bogotá admitted in a statement that "the death could be related to the consumption of drugs" based on information provided by those close to Hawkins, per The Mirror. A newly released toxicology report obtained by the BBC showed traces of opioids, marijuana, antidepressants, and other substances in the drummer's body at the time of his death.

Since Hawkins' death was announced, questions have been asked about whether this could be another overdose. In 2001, Hawkins was in London when he took a near-fatal overdose that had him in a coma for two weeks, per NME. Details about the overdose and Hawkins' recovery process are sparse, Hawkins did tell the "Beats 1" podcast in 2018 that: "I have my system that works for me," per Ultimate Classic Rock.

His overdose also made him reflect on his relationship with drugs. In a 2021 interview with Kerrang!, Hawkins explained how the overdose affected his relationship with drugs. "...I just got out of control for a while and it almost got me." He added: "I was heading down a road that was going to lead to even worse paths."

What we know about Taylor Hawkins death so far

One thing we know for certain is that Taylor Hawkins has left an everlasting mark on the music community.

Ricardo Rodríguez, a Colombian drummer, told NBC News, that Hawkins was "[a] musician, a composer with a lot of creativity, a complete soul is lost, a soul in music, popular rock." He added a sentiment that's been echoed throughout the tributes about Hawkins: "I'm shocked, in shock."

According to a press release issued by local health officials, an ambulance was dispatched to the hotel where Hawkins was staying after the emergency center received reports of "a patient with chest pains." While attempts were made to resuscitate the drummer, "there was no response, and the patient was declared deceased," according to the Bogotá District Department of Health, reported by NBC News.

The attorney general's office in Colombia said in a tweet Saturday morning that a "team of prosecutors and investigators was assigned to attend the urgent matter and support the investigation."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).