Inside Taylor Hawkins' Relationship With Queen's Brian May

In the weeks after the untimely death of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins on March 25, the music world was in a state of shock. Hawkins was just 50 years old when he died at a hotel in Bogotá, Colombia while he and his bandmates were in the midst of a string of shows in South America.

His death prompted a series of tributes from fans and fellow musicians on social media as well as at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, which were held just over a week after his death. The awards ceremony was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and featured an extended tribute to the late drummer, whose band took home three Grammys that evening. Singer Billie Eilish also performed her song "Happier Than Ever" while wearing a shirt with Hawkins' picture on it (via The New York Times).

Many who knew Hawkins tried to process his death. That included a member of one of the late drummer's all-time favorite bands: Queen guitarist Brian May.

Dr. Brian May's life and career

Brian May was born July 19, 1947, in Hampton, Middlesex, England. From an early age, May demonstrated high intelligence. When he was a teenager he and his father built his first guitar from scratch. This didn't become just any old homemade guitar. The two Mays used whatever they could to build a guitar that became known as the Red Special. That guitar become synonymous with May and it — along with May's predilection for using a six-pence coin instead of a traditional pick — became the hallmark of May's guitar tone, which in turn made up a huge portion of Queen's sound.

In 1965, May went to college planning to study astrophysics, but he was sidetracked by his burgeoning music career. He continued chipping away at his PhD and eventually completed it in 2007 (via Biography). May, along with drummer Roger Taylor, bassist John Deacon, and the late vocalist Freddie Mercury teamed up to write some of the biggest songs in rock music history including "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Killer Queen," and "Another One Bites The Dust."

Taylor Hawkins was a massive Queen fan

Taylor Hawkins' Queen fandom was well-known. "I wanted to be Roger Taylor and I wanted to be in Queen," Hawkins once said in a "60 Minutes" interview with Anderson Cooper (posted on YouTube). "I wanted to play stadiums when I was 10 years old, there's no question."

Hawkins and Foo Fighters played Queen covers during their live shows from time to time, even doing so at Hawkins' final performance in Argentina, when Hawkins stepped out from behind the drums to handle vocal duties on the Queen classic "Somebody To Love" (via Louder). According to CNN, in 2019, Queen's Roger Taylor sat in on drums to play the hit song "Under Pressure," which was recorded with David Bowie. "I watched the f****** drummer and I said, I wanna f******' be him. I wanna do that," Hawkins told the crowd that night at the show in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 2001, Hawkins also had what had to be the thrill of a lifetime. Alongside his Foo Fighters bandmate, Dave Grohl, Hawkins was given the opportunity to induct Queen 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. "Two of the best hours of my life."

Brian May and Taylor Hawkins

According to People, May and Hawkins first crossed paths while the latter was still playing drums for singer Alanis Morrisette, his gig before joining Foo Fighters in 1997. The two hit it off, and following Hawkins' death, May noted that while his band may have influenced the Foo Fighters' drummer, Hawkins was a big help to his musical heroes. "Taylor has been the best publicist for Queen ever. He's been so good for our image because he kind of regarded us as cool, whereas a lot of people at that time didn't," May said in an interview with SiriusXM's Debatable. At the time of Hawkins' death, May was gearing up for a re-issue of his 1998 solo album "Another World," a record which features the late drummer's playing on the track "Cyborg."

May talked about how close he felt to Hawkins, who had even visited May in the studio. He went on to reveal that he had spoken to Hawkins shortly before Hawkins' death. "I talked to him just a week ago from when we lost him, talking about stuff, talking about Dave (Grohl), talking about what it's like and Taylor's joys and frustrations and whatever ... Taylor was like family to us, he really was."

May said, "It's just impossible to imagine talking about Taylor in the past tense. I can't do it yet," adding, "I feel like he's still with us. And one of the greatest drummers ever, of course, but also the most amazingly energetic, beautiful guy you could imagine."