Queen’s Brian May, Roger Taylor perform at Taylor Hawkins Tribute

Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor honored Taylor Hawkins at a tribute concert for the late drummer in London.

The penultimate scheduled performance of the Wembley Stadium extravaganza opened with footage of Hawkins’ well-known love for Queen and drummer Taylor in particular. That led right into the performance itself, with an on-screen Taylor counting the band into “We Will Rock You,” sung by Ostrich frontman Luke Spiller.

Taylor, wearing a shirt with Hawkins’ bird logo, then turned his drum kit over to his son Rufus, a member of Darkness, before leading May and the Foos on vocals through “I’m in Love with My Car.” Rufus’ bandmate Justin Hawkins returned to duet with Taylor Sr. on “Under Pressure”, where the latter also returns to his drumming duties.

Next, Dave Grohl told the crowd: “We have a very special guest tonight that you might not expect – we didn’t.” He added that Taylor Sr. had suggested the singer in question for the song in question: Sam Ryder, the British TikTok phenomenon who represented the nation at the Eurovision Song Contest. He delivered “Somebody to Love” and seemed blown away to be a part of the experience.

Finally, May walked to the end of the catwalk and told the audience: “What an amazing night of love and music – thank you for being here and for sharing all of this.” Introducing Freddie Mercury’s ballad “Love of My Life”, he explained: “In 1986 we were in this exact place when we sang this song together, and in 1992, 30 years ago, we said goodbye to Freddie in a style similar to this. So I know Freddie would be happy to share this song in memory of Taylor Hawkins. But here’s the deal: I’m not singing this song. We sing this song together. Okay?”

The audience provided all the support they could, accompanied by May on an acoustic guitar as he encouraged them by calling their work “beautiful” and “wonderful” and then asking: “What do you think if we all use our lights?” … Let’s light up Wembley Stadium for Taylor Hawkins.” After an explosion of white, the set ended as May bowed, waved and walked back up the catwalk.

Hawkins was a huge fan of Queen and regularly pointed to a concert he attended at the age of 10 as a defining moment in his life.

“After that concert I don’t think I slept for three days,” he recalled during a 2021 interview with Kerrang! “It changed everything and I was never the same because of it. That was the beginning of my obsession with rock ‘n’ roll and I knew I wanted to be in a big rock band after seeing Queen. I was just getting into the drums and Roger Taylor became my hero.”

The late drummer connected with his idols even before joining the Foo Fighters. Hawkins was on tour with Alanis Morissette when he first met May, and the two “hit it off immediately.” “Taylor has been the best publicist for Queen ever. He’s been so good for our image because he kind of saw us as cool, whereas a lot of people at the time didn’t,” May recalled during a 2022 interview with SiriusXM (via People).

Hawkins maintained a relationship with the Queen musicians over the years. In 1998, May recruited the Foo Fighters drummer to play on “Cyborg”, a track on the guitarist’s solo album Another world. Soon after, May joined the Foo Fighters to record a cover of Pink Floyd“Having a cigar.”

Although Hawkins became a star, he remained a proud Queen fan. The drummer consistently covered the classic rockers in his cover band Chevy Metal and even regularly took lead vocals at Foo Fighters shows to perform a Queen cover (most often “Somebody to Love” or “Tie Your Mother Down”).

In 2001, Grohl and Hawkins recorded Queen i Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, another experience that the drummer always reflected glowingly on. “If you see my face on that Hall of Fame thing, I’m just smiling all the time,” Hawkins admitted. Rhythm magazine in 2002, admitting that he still considered Taylor a “mythical superhero” even after the two became friends.

After Hawkins’ death earlier this year, both May and Taylor spoke eloquently about their late friend.

“My whole family and his whole family were very close,” the Queen’s drummer explained while dedicating his OBE honor to Hawkins. “He was [as] my wife called him, sunshine in human form. He was the most wonderful man and I can’t quite believe I won’t see him again.”

“Taylor was very close to us and he’s been in my studio a few times and in my life I’ve talked to him often,” May recalled. “I talked to him just a week ago, from when we lost him, talking about things, talking about Dave, talking about what it’s like and Taylor’s joys and frustrations and whatever… Taylor was like family to us, He really was.”

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