Taylor Hawkins was an iconic drummer and beloved figure in music. Every time I saw him he was smiling. The world lost Taylor Hawkins at the age of 50 on March 25, 2022. The Taylor Hawkins Tribute LA took place last Tuesday at the Kia Forum.
After watching the first Taylor Hawkins tribute show filmed in London on September 3 at Wembley Stadium, I made the decision to travel to LA to attend in person for the ultimate hometown tribute to one of the world’s most well-known drummers who played in one of my all-time favorite bands the Foo Fighters.
I have photographed and attended Foo Fighters shows for over two decades including the last U.S. show that the full band played together at Innings Festival in Tempe, Arizona. So, this show had extra special meaning and I was so happy to see and share the moments with friends.
The Kia Forum itself is a fitting venue for the tribute. Dave Grohl told the story of how Taylor and he had met backstage in that same venue many years earlier at a KROQ Xmas show which ultimately led to the two becoming fast friends and Taylor joining the Foo Fighters full time.
The venue was also referenced many times throughout the night with memories of Taylor playing and attending shows with friends at the iconic arena.
Before the show, fans lined up outside and inside to buy coveted merchandise from the special shows including limited edition posters, t-shirts and hats to commemorate the occasion.
A star-studded lineup showed up to honor Taylor Hawkins in his hometown. The setlist and lineup was one for the ages with artists collaborations that were once in a lifetime stage performance.
Violet Grohl Starts the Evening on a Solemn Note
The show started right on time as advertised at 7:00 PM with Dave Grohl’s daughter, Violet singing a moving rendition of “Hallelujah.”
Joan Jett was the next artist to take the stage and played “Cherry Bomb” with Grohl on guitar and Travis Barker on drums.
Taylor’s son, Shane came out to introduce Chevy Metal who he referred to as the “Best f*cking cover bands he has seen in his life.” Chevy Metal proceeded to bring out a sliver cape wearing Kesha for their final tune to sing David Bowie’s “Heroes.”
Kesha said this week that she sang so hard for Taylor at the tribute show that she blew out one of her vocal cords.
Joe Walsh Re-unites The James Gang
One of the biggest surprises of the night was Joe Walsh performing with a re-united James Gang for the occasion. It is no secret that Taylor was a massive Joe Walsh fan. Grohl joined the band onstage on the drums for “Funk #49.”
Them Crooked Vultures re-united once again and took the stage just as they had done at Wembley Stadium a few weeks prior with Josh Homme on lead vocals, Dave Grohl on drums and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on bass. The band led off with an Elton John classic “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
80’s Glam Rock is on Display with Def Leppard, Wolfgang Van Halen, and Members of Motley Crue
Taking a rare turn on bass, Grohl joined the Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, drummer Josh Freese and guitarist Wolfgang Van Halen, son of the late Eddie Van Halen, ran through a fast-paced take on the VH classic “Panama.” The crowd erupted as Wolfgang shredded out the guitar riffs that his father made famous.
Pat Smear announced Def Leppard coming to the stage and recalled seeing the band at the Forum in 1983. The band played “Rock of Ages” and then Miley Cyrus made a surprise appearance onstage to belt out “Photograph” with the band. She revealed a touching message on Instagram with a voicemail from Taylor Hawkins saying that she would kill that song as a cover.
Sticking with the 80’s LA glam rock theme Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx were the next to take the stage with Grohl back on guitar. The band played “Home Sweet Home” In at touching moment at the end of their set, Tommy Lee got up and proceeded to pour one out for Taylor behind the drum kit.
One of the highlights of the night came next as Pink took the stage with Nancy Wilson and Dave Grohl on guitars to sing the Heart hit “Barracuda.” The only word for Pink the entire night was spectacular. This was the first of three times she would take the stage and each time took your breath away with her gritty vocals.
Alanis Morissette Takes the Stage
Taylor had his first major gig as a drummer for a world tour with Alanis Morissette. Alanis has paid tribute to Hawkins at several of her shows throughout this year since his death. She appeared on the Forum stage with no introduction and played “You Oughta Know.” At the end of the song she shared a long embrace with Dave Grohl. The two undoubtedly played the biggest roles in shaping Taylor’s career and launching him to super-stardom.
I saw Taylor re-unite on stage for the first time in decades with Alanis in 2019 in Malibu for the One Love Benefit for Fire Victims. It was another magical music moment in an acoustic set where Alanis sang her most famous hits.
Classic Rock Musicians Jam Together for Taylor
The harder side of Rock kicked off the night as Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach, Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler and Metallica’s Lars Ulrich rocked out to Sabbath’s “Supernaut” and “Paranoid” with Grohl supporting on guitars.
Jack Black surprised the audience when he took the stage to introduce the surviving members of Rush with a rotating cast on drums starting with Grohl. Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers took a turn on “Working Man” and Danny Carey of Tool backed them up on “YYZ”
Black also told a story about seeing Taylor at the Forum attending a Rush concert as a super fan enjoying the music of the iconic band.
Soundgarden Re-unites with Taylor Momsen on Vocals
In one of the most emotional moments of the evening the surviving members Soundgarden stepped onto the stage to pay tribute to Hawkins. This was the same venue where Soundgarden had performed their own 2019 tribute show dedicated to the late, great vocalist Chris Cornell after his tragic death in 2017.
Taylor Momsen of the Pretty Reckless had big shoes to fill as she belted out Soundgarden classics like “The Day I Tried to Live” and “Black Hole Sun.”
Members of Queen Take the Stage for a Special Tribute to Taylor Hawkins
Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, along with members of Foo Fighters open their set with “We Will Rock You,” featuring the Darkness’ Justin Hawkins on vocals doing his best Freddie Mercury impression in a green bodysuit.
Pink is back onstage for the second time to steal the show with Queen to sing “Somebody to Love,” which Taylor Hawkins famously used to sing as part of Foo Fighters’ live show every night on tour. She even looked a little star struck to be singing alongside the legendary Brian May.
May closes Queen’s set with a solo acoustic version of “Love of My Life,” which he said he didn’t plan to perform until he got a message from Hawkins’ widow, Alison, asking him to sing it. Alison had stated that they played the song at their wedding so it had special meaning for her.
When May finishes the song, Alison Hawkins and her three children walk onstage for the first time during the evening, embrace May and wave to the crowd.
Foo Fighters Close Out the Show with A Series of Guest Drummers
John Freese is the first guest drummer up to back the band playing “All My Life”. Pink makes her final appearance singing “The Pretender” with Grohl, while Jon Theodore plays drums.
Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine appears on stage to count off “This Is a Call,” the lead single from the Foo Fighters’ 1995 debut. Weezer’s Pat Wilson is up next onstage to play “The Sky Is a Neighborhood.”
In another surprise Dave Chapelle appears onstage to sing the Radiohead hit “Creep” with the band. Chapelle urged the whole crowd to help with the singalong. The song has become Chapelle’s favorite karaoke tunes. He first performed the song with the Foo Fighters in June 2021 during their opening night of their run of performance at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Legendary Omar Hakim is up next on drums to pound out “Run” with the rest of the Foos.
As he did in London, Hawkins’ teen son Shane joined the Foo Fighters to perform “My Hero” as well as “I’ll Stick Around.” He proves onstage each time with his hard-hitting style that the family drumming legacy will live on.
Six hours after the show began, the Hawkins tribute is ended with “Everlong,” featuring Chad Smith on drums.
Dave Grohl thanked the crowd for coming and reveled at the fact that “this many people connected through one person.”
“We love you, Taylor,” he says to end the spectacular night.
Proceeds from the Taylor Hawkins tribute benefited Music Cares. Donate here.