Inside Taylor Hawkins' Relationship With Queen Drummer Roger Taylor

Foo Fighters are a band that has never been shy about wearing their influences on their sleeves, and their late drummer, Taylor Hawkins, was no exception. He was always quick to acknowledge the artists who shaped him into the musician he became. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Hawkins was a massive Van Halen fan and performed the band's 1984 hit "Panama" in a ninth-grade school talent show. In 2019, with his cover band side project Chevy Metal, Hawkins played an entire set comprised of only Van Halen songs. "I gotta tell you, being Van Halen for the day is pretty f****** awesome," he told the crowd that day from the stage. "It's the best f******' setlist you're ever gonna find, right?" he told the crowd at BeachLife Festival in Los Angeles.

Other big influences on Hawkins' musicianship included Rush drummer Neil Peart, The Police drummer Stewart Copeland, and Genesis drummer and vocalist Phil Collins. However, it seems that no band influenced Hawkins quite as much as the legendary English rock band Queen, especially their drummer, Roger Taylor.

Taylor Hawkins' career

According to AllMusic, Hawkins was born Oliver Taylor Hawkins on February 17, 1972, in Dallas, Texas, but grew up in southern California. Hawkins' first band was an experimental rock outfit called Sylvia, but his first taste of major success in the music industry came when he was brought on to play alongside Alanis Morrisette. Morrisette was one of the biggest artists in the world at the time, and her multi-platinum album "Jagged Little Pill" had been a massive success.

In 1997, Dave Grohl's up-and-coming post-Nirvana band Foo Fighters were in need of a drummer following the departure of drummer William Goldsmith during the sessions for their second album, "The Colour And The Shape" (via Drum!). Grohl called to see if Hawkins knew any drummers who they could hire, and despite continuing to play with Morrisette, one of music's biggest names at the time, Hawkins decided to give it a go with Foo Fighters.

Roger Taylor's career

According to Biography, Roger Taylor was born on July 26, 1949, in King's Lynn, which is part of England's Norfolk County. Taylor picked up music as a kid, but when he moved to London he initially studied dentistry and biology before deciding to shift focus and set his sights on a music career. In London, he started playing in a band called Smile, alongside his future Queen bandmate Brian May.

Eventually, bassist John Deacon and legendary lead singer Freddie Mercury came into the fold, and Queen was born. What followed was a massively successful career with countless classic and hit songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Will Rock You," "Another One Bites The Dust," and "Radio Ga Ga," which he wrote.

Despite Mercury's death in 1991, Queen has continued and is active to this day, although the only remaining members still active in the band are Taylor and May, with John Deacon deciding to quit the band in 1997 (via Ultimate Classic Rock).

Hawkins was a huge Queen fan

Hawkins' Queen fandom was well-known. In a 2014 "60 Minutes" interview with Anderson Cooper (posted on YouTube), Hawkins and Foo Fighters founder and frontman Dave Grohl were asked to give their opinions on different musicians. When Queen was mentioned, Grohl's reply was, "Don't get him started — please." "That's a whole other '60 Minutes,'" Hawkins said. "I wanted to be Roger Taylor and I wanted to be in Queen. I wanted to play stadiums when I was 10 years old, there's no question."

A frequent part of Foo Fighters' live shows involved playing covers. Sometimes this involved Hawkins and Grohl switching places, with Grohl — who is himself a renowned drummer, having provided the beat for grunge icons Nirvana — taking a seat behind the drums, and Hawkins handling vocal duties. Many times Hawkins would belt out Queen classics, giving a more than serviceable treatment to the notoriously difficult-to-nail vocals made famous by the late Freddie Mercury. Hawkins' final show, which took place in Argentina on March 20, 2022, included him singing a cover of Queen's "Somebody To Love" (via Louder Sound).

Hawkins had the honor of inducting Queen into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Few things could be as thrilling as inducting your favorite band into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and that's just what Taylor Hawkins had the privilege of doing for Queen. In 2001, Hawkins and his Foo Fighters bandmate, Dave Grohl, were on hand to induct the legendary band's four members — guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor, bassist John Deacon, and late vocalist Freddie Mercury — into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

"Queen were my first concert and every concert since has been a bit of a letdown," Hawkins said that night. "Two of the best hours of my life." He also summed up Queen's famous live show prowess about as succinctly as anyone possibly could: "As a live band, Queen kind of kicked everyone's ass." Twenty years later, Hawkins joined his heroes in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as he and Foo Fighters were inducted in 2021.

Hawkins and Taylor had a personal relationship

Hawkins' connection to Queen went far beyond his immense fandom. He was also good friends with one of the musicians that made him want to pick up the instrument in the first place, Queen's drummer Roger Taylor. According to CNN, during a show in Atlanta in 2019, Foo Fighters welcomed Taylor on stage to sit in and play the Queen and David Bowie hit "Under Pressure." Hawkins — who sang lead vocals for the cover — told the audience that Roger Taylor was his mentor. "I watched the f****** drummer and I said, I wanna f****** be him. I wanna do that," Hawkins told the crowd that night.

Following Hawkins' death in 2022, Taylor made a post on Instagram in which he said that he felt like he had lost a brother. "He was a kind brilliant man and an inspirational mentor to my son Rufus and the best friend one could ever have," Taylor wrote.