Monthly Archives: March 2022

RIP Taylor Hawkins

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the sudden and tragic loss of Taylor Hawkins, beloved drummer of the Foo Fighters and a number of side projects including Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders and The Birds of Satan. Hawkins was not only known as one of the most talented drummers in rock, but also as one of the most genuine people to reach his level of stardom. The day of his passing, and for days after, tributes to Hawkins filled the internet from musicians and celebrities alike. It seemed that no one ever had an unkind word to say about the drummer and everyone who came in contact with him felt like a better person for doing so.

From June 1995 until March 1997, Hawkins was Alanis Morissette’s drummer on the tour supporting Jagged Little Pill and her Can’t Not tour. He appeared in the videos for “You Oughta Know”, “All I Really Want”, and “You Learn”. He also appeared on Morissette’s VHS/DVD Jagged Little Pill, Live (1997). In 1997 Hawkins joined the Foo Fighters, a role he would fill for over two decades while recording 9 albums. In addition to his drumming, Hawkins also provided vocals, guitar, and piano to various recordings. His final performance with the Foo Fighters before his death was at the Lollapalooza Argentina festival on March 20, 2022.

Hawkins’s first two major inspirations were Roger Taylor and Stewart Copeland. He reported that listening to these two drummers’ different styles showed him a wide spectrum of drumming. He also mentioned that he would play along with songs on the radio or records, like Queen’s News of the World, to enhance his skills when he was young. He also added Phil Collins of Genesis, Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, Ringo Starr of The Beatles, and Neil Peart of Rush as additional drum influences.

Dave Grohl, founder and frontman of the Foo Fighters and thought of as one of the best drummers of all time (Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, and Them Crooked Vultures) thought the world of his drummer and best friend. In an interview with 60 Minutes he said, “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.” He added “He is a much more technically minded drummer than I am.”

Following his death, Roger Taylor, the drummer of Queen who Hawkins said had inspired him to get behind the drum set released a statement that said, “He was a kind, brilliant man and an inspirational mentor to my son Rufus, and the best friend one could ever have. His death was like losing a younger favorite brother.” Hawkins would have been thrilled for such a touching tribute from his childhood hero.

Nine-year-old Emma Sofia, a young drummer who met Hawkins just days before his death summed up Hawkins lasting effect on musicians and fans alike. “Taylor gave us something to believe in. He was, is, and always will be an inspiration.”

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In recognition of Women’s History Month I want to take a moment to focus on my favorite female drummer Hannah Ford-Welton. I discovered Hannah as a member of Prince’s 3RDEYEGIRL, the legendary artist’s explosive four-piece rock band consisting of Prince and an all-female backing band. Her ability to play with the intelligence and intensity demanded by Prince, immediately caught my attention.

According to her bio: Formerly the drummer and vocalist of the Chicago based rock trio The Hannah Ford Band, the Milwaukee based crossover Christian band, Bellevue Suite, and her one woman inspirational Peace Love & Drums multi-media show, Welton’s versatile performance history covers all styles of music, from pop and rock to jazz. Launching her professional career at age twelve by joining a blues band with her trumpet playing father in the Windy City, she is the only female to win the Louis Bellson Heritage Days Drums Competition (2006).

Besides reading, rudiments, and technical abilities, Ford’s keen eyes and receptive ears are essential to her reactive drum approach. Much of this skill was forged with her four years of study with noted instructor Paul Wertico at Roosevelt University (she also studied with Wertico privately for two years before enrolling.)

Welton’s other regional accolades include being voted “Outstanding Jazz Musician” at Chicago’s New Trier Jazz Festival (2007) and “Outstanding Musician” at Chicago’s Jazz in the Meadows Festival (2007). Welton was named “Best Drummer/Musician” in Suburban Nightlife Magazine’s “Best of the Burbs” readers’ poll in 2008. She was also cast as “L.A. Coulter,” the onstage drummer in the 2011 Chicago Royal George Theater run of the Whoopi Goldberg produced musical “White Noise.”

Another expression of her love for the drums has been Hannah’s enthusiastic support for young drummers. Hannah spends much of her down-time reaching out to others at school assemblies with her “Peace, Love & Drums” multi-media show and giving back to students at drum clinics and summer music camps.

When asked about her feeling about being a female drummer in a male-dominated business she said, “It used to be that telling someone they hit like a girl was a put-down, but after watching the way women like Karen Carpenter, Gina Schock, Sheila E and Cindy Blackman play the drums, I’ll take it as a compliment. After all, what’s better than playing kick-ass drums in a rock ‘n’ roll band, doing what you love… and getting paid for it?”

Here’s an original track called “Women’s Intuition” that Hannah wrote, arranged, and produced with her husband (Prince producer Joshua Welton) for their band Counterculture:

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