The rough performance took place more than halfway through the Wembley Stadium concert. Took the stage before it began Dave Grohl warned the audience: “We’re not even close – I hope you were wearing comfortable shoes! Welcome to the stage our good friend Lars, and Brian Johnson from AC-fucking-DC!”
“This is amazing!” Johnson declared before the Foo Fighters, with Grohl playing third guitar, launched into “Back in Black.” Justin Hawkins from Darkness also made a brief appearance, although he appeared to be encountering technical problems with his microphone.
Next the band broke into “Let There Be Rock” which proved to be another rough but fun performance. Johnson worked up a sweat as he made air guitar moves nonstop and yelled “Taylor, this one’s for you!” when the song came to an end. “It was a blast,” he said afterward as he, Ulrich and Grohl shared a group hug.
“Taylor, I know you’re watching, I know you’re hearing this, I know you’re seeing this,” Ulrich said. “We love you damn. On behalf of everyone at Metallica, nothing but love.” Johnson could still be heard laughing as the pair left the stage together.
Johnson and Hawkins crossed paths many times during the late drummer’s lifetime. One instance occurred after the Grammys in Los Angeles. As recalled by Grohl, he, Hawkins and some other members of the Foo Fighters planned to go out to eat after the awards show. Paul McCartney asked if he and his wife could join.
“So [McCartney] bump into AC/DC in a hotel or something. And then they say, ‘What are you doing after the show?’ And he’s like, ‘I’m going to have dinner with the Foo Fighters,'” Grohl explained. “And Paul said, ‘Will you come?’ So Paul’s wife calls my wife and my wife says, ‘Hey, do you mind if AC/DC comes to dinner?'”
Hawkins regularly covered AC/DC in his side project Chevy Metal. In 2021, he got to experience the real thing. During Global Citizens VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World, Foo Fighters brought out Johnson as a special guest. The artists then rocked through an emphatic rendition of “Back in Black.”
Johnson and Hawkins also appeared in What drives usa 2021 documentary directed by Grohl, which looked at the highs and lows of life on the road for young bands touring in a van.
“Taylor was a lovely man, his smile was playful, his drumming intense and brilliant, and he could also sing,” Johnson recalled in a statement prior to the tribute concert. “When we gather to pay tribute to this man and his family, we do it as friends, we do it for him, and we do it with his band, the Foo Fighters, who I know will make him proud. I’m honored to be part of it.”
Although Ulrich and Hawkins never shared the stage, they crossed paths several times. Hawkins and Grohl co-hosted “Death on the radio” world premiere at Metallica’s Death magnetic in 2008, where they chatted with all four members about their new album. (Hawkins praised “My Apocalypse” in particular, saying it was his favorite song on the record.) Hawkins, too interviewed by Metallica at the second leg of the band’s Orion Music + More festival in Detroit in 2013.
The drummer flexed his Metallica chops during a Foo Fighters show in 2018 when they brought a 10-year-old boy on stage and played a truncated version of “Enter Sandman” along with snippets of “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” and “Wherever I May Roam”.
Ulrich shared a photo of him and Hawkins on Instagram with a touching caption the day after Hawkins’ death. “Thanks, Taylor,” the post began. “Thank you for always having the biggest, warmest smile on your face and for lighting up every room with your contagious energy and good vibes.
“At BottleRock recently, I had the best seat in the house right above you and once again stood and watched in awe as you effortlessly steered the Foo Fighters through a two-hour festival set with the perfect balance of swing, swagger, bounce and insane chops,” He continued.
“Your phone call a week ago touched and inspired me and I will always be grateful that you champion our community as in your parting words … ‘Drummers stick together!’ Damn right bro. Except now society is less without you. Rest in peace.”
ONE second Hawkins tribute concert will take place at Los Angeles’ Kia Forum on Sept. 27.
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