Taylor Hawkins’ Classic Rock Influences: In Her Own Words


Despite becoming a superstar member of a famous rock band, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins remained an avid fan of the bands that came before him.

Never shy when talking about his influences, the drummer regularly praises Rush, Genesis and the Police – bands that employ some of the greatest drummers in rock history: Neil Peart, Phil Collins and Stewart Copeland, respectively.

Hawkins was an aficionado of all things rock, with a fandom that stretched back to his youth. During a ninth-grade talent show, the drummer covered Van Halen’s “Panama.” Decades later, he and his cover band Chevy Metal would deliver a set made entirely of Van Halen material at the 2019 Beach Life festival.

“I have to tell you, being Van Halen for the day is really awesome,” he explained from the stage that day. “That’s the best set list you’ll ever find, isn’t it?”

Still, there was no band Hawkins held in higher regard than Queen. When he was just 10 years old, the future Foo Fighter saw Freddie Mercury and his band perform in Southern California. Hawkins’ mind was blown. “After that gig, I don’t think I slept for three days,” he recalled in a 2021 conversation with Kerrang! “It changed everything, and I was never the same because of it. It was the start of my obsession with rock ‘n’ roll, and I knew I wanted to be part of a huge band. rock after seeing Queen. I was just starting to get into the drums and Roger Taylor became my hero. I remember telling my mom that I would play there one day.

Below are some of the greatest classic rock artists who influenced Hawkins and what they meant to him, in his own words.

Ian Tyas, Getty Images

Ian Tyas, Getty Images

Queen (Roger Taylor)

“Roger Taylor playing ‘We Are the Champions’ with Queen – I’ll never forget watching that. I remember all that sweat pouring out of his hair – it was so visual, the ultimate in cool and reverence. He was rock ‘n’ roll.” – Rhythm Review (2002)

“I remember one time with the Foo Fighters when we were on our way to a rehearsal studio in Virginia just before we did (1999 album) There’s nothing to lose. We were driving, with the radio on, and ‘Under Pressure’ came on. We sat there, silent, just listening. Then, when it was over, Dave Grohl turned to us and just laughed; ‘Why are we even trying? As if we were going to do something even close to this song. -Q (2005)

“[Roger Taylor] swings like no one else, and it’s impossible to imitate. You know it’s him when you hear the hi-hat popping up every time he hits the snare. I can play all the fills he’s done, but I’ve never been able to understand how he feels. I tried and it’s impossible!” – Rhythm Review (2002)

“Roger gave Queen their heavy feel and big sound. His playing was laid back, loose and – I use that term loosely – punk rock because he had that kind of rough edge to his drumming too. And he always put on a real show – he was a very theatrical drummer.” Rhythm Magazine (2002)

“Roger and I hang out and are friends, but he’s also still this mythical superhero to me. We played double drums in Shepherds Bush a few years ago and most recently in 2001 when Queen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which was amazing. If you look at my face on that Hall of Fame thing, I smile all the time.” Rhythm Magazine (2002)

Fin Costello, Getty Images

Fin Costello, Getty Images

Rush (Neil Peart)

“The choir beat [Foo Fighters’ 2001 song] ‘Rope’ is a paradiddle directly inspired by Neil Peart. It’s ‘The Spirit of Radio’ all the way. When we were demoing ‘Rope’, everyone thought it was my idea. But I have to tell Neil Peart in modern drummer: I’m sorry I stole this from you, Neil, but it was Dave’s idea to do this, not mine! – Modern Drummer (2011)

“Me and Dave grew up loving Rush. It’s a great band for when you’re a kid and trying to learn as many licks as you can. There’s a lot of things someone can learn from them. a Rush record. Kerrang! (2021)

“I got into prog when I started playing drums. I must have been 10 or 11, and the first band I heard was Rush. That was the live album Exit… Stage left. I learned so much listening to Neil Peart. Program (2014)

“There can never be another Neil Peart. Certainly not. He had the craziest hands, and he just had such a unique thing. – Radio interview with 94.9 The Rock

“Neil Peart had the hands of God. End of the story.” Instagram post after Peart’s death in 2020

“A lot of my favorite drummers – like Stewart Copeland and Neil Peart – weren’t just backbeat drummers, they had just as much profile as a guitarist usually has. I guess that’s what I struggled with. for most of my life – to make the battery as important as everything else.” On Sunday (2010)

Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The Police (Stewart Copeland)

“I always use the first Police album as an example. It sounds like a shitty demo, but it rocks. It’s amazing – and with rock ‘n’ roll it’s all about the energy, right? right? When you hear the energy on the drums and the music like that, you just want to crank it up and drive down the street with it exploding. It’s like, ‘Hey, guys, this rocks!’ Rhythm Magazine (1998)

“Stewart Copeland is so intense live. It looks like he could kill you. Drumming! magazine (2007)

“He was probably my first drumming influence, he was my first drumming hero and it had a lot to do with my brother, who is five years older than me – I still have the Police around the worldvideo that I remember he gave me as a kid when I was first learning to play.” Metal Hammer (2003)

“I have no rudimentary training. My rudimentary training was that of Rush Exit… Stage Left and the police Zenyatta Mondatta. I imitated my heroes. I played with these discs. That’s how I learned. ghost in the machine and Zeniatta, they were my two detective bibles. Copeland is definitely one of my main heroes. Modern Drummer (2011)

“But you listen to the level of musicality that they invoked – how brilliant were they? They were a band that could do it all and made the concept of musicality so cool. They influenced so many others – after all, would Rush have tried something like… ‘Spirit of Radio’ with the reggae part without the police? Program (2014)

Graham Wood, Getty Images

Graham Wood, Getty Images

Genesis (Phil Collins)

“Rush got me into Genesis. After listening to Neil, I bought the Seconds elapsed live album, released in 1977. It’s just amazing. Not only hear Phil Collins play the drums, but also sing. He gets a really bad rap from some people for “daring” to take over after Peter Gabriel left, but you just hear the way he sounds here. Program (2014)

“People seem to have forgotten that Phil [Collins] is one of the greatest rock drummers to have traveled the planet. I was lucky enough to have drum lessons with people like Chad [Smith] and Dave in the past, but I would like to learn a lesson from him. So Phil, if you’re out there, please come and teach me how to play “properly”. Rhythm Magazine (2003)

“He did some bullshit in the 1980s, but so did everyone else. I interviewed Phil once for Rhythm magazine and he’s a cool, humble, self-deprecating guy. He knows people make fun of him all the time, but you know what, fuck them! In 20 or 30 years you will still be hearing Phil Collins songs and the people who make fun of him will be gone. It’s the truth.” The Sunday Times (2010)

“He’s such an amazing drummer – you listen to those old Genesis records, even the first ones he sang on, amazing.” Globe & Mail (2005)

“You know, people forget he was a great drummer as well as a cool 80s sweater, poor guy.” Associated Press (2019)

Paul Natkin, Getty Images

Paul Natkin, Getty Images

Jane’s Addiction (Steven Perkins)

“Steve Perkins, especially when Jane’s Addiction was at its peak, he was so on fire. And he was my favorite drummer for years, the last drummer I consciously emulated. If you come back and watch me play with Alanis [Morissette], it was very obvious. Perkins was not a showman but he was clairvoyant. He had a lot of live atmosphere and he was fun to watch.” Drumming! magazine (2007)

“There was something about Jane’s Addiction that was bigger than the four people in the band. I was from south Laguna, which is Cornwall rather than London, if you know what I mean, and my friends and I hitchhiked all the way to Los Angeles to watch them. Back then, Jane’s Addiction was just freaks – nobody had dreadlocks, nobody had nose rings, 1987. Perry Farrell was just a defiant, crazy singer. He was just crazy, and it was an amazing band. Melody Maker (2011)

“A big influence on me was Steve Perkins. I remember watching him with Jane’s Addiction… his big afro. He was like an animal behind the drums. Not as punchy as I thought – he has a lighter touch than me. He reminds me of Gene Krupa. He has a bouncy feel. He’s really creative. I’m so lucky – right out of high school I had Steve Perkins, Matt Cameron, Dave Grohl and Jimmy Chamberlin. Those drummers amazing stylistics that had their own thing and were so awesome and so creative and felt so much. Modern Drummer (2011)

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