Foo Fighters pay tribute to drummer Taylor Hawkins at emotional London concert
London (CNN) A star-studded lineup, including Paul McCartney and Liam Gallagher, joined the Foo Fighters on Saturday night in London for an emotional tribute to the band’s drummer Taylor Hawkins.
Hawkins, 50, passed away in March in Bogotá, Colombia, just hours before the Foo Fighters were scheduled to perform at the Festival Estereo Picnic. The remaining tour dates were immediately cancelled by the band.
The band performed together for the first time since Hawkins’ death on Saturday.
According to the UK’s PA Media news agency, a tearful Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters told the crowd at London’s Wembley Stadium: “Taylor enjoyed jamming and recording with anyone and everyone. Every day, he enjoyed playing music. And there aren’t many people he hasn’t jammed with. So he brought together this group of friends, family, and musicians, and we’re all connected here today because of him.”
Throughout the show, the theme of family was prevalent. Oliver Shane Hawkins, 16, joined his father’s band for a powerful rendition of Foo Fighters’ “My Hero.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Grohl said as he welcomed Hawkins’ son to the stage. “And let me tell you, I’ve never seen anyone hit the drums as hard as this person, but he’s also a member of our family. And he needs to be here tonight with all of us, so I think it’s natural that he’ll come up and play with us.”
Some of the biggest names in music, including Queen’s Roger Taylor and Brian May, Rush, AC/DC singer Brian Johnson, and Nile Rodgers, came out to honour Hawkins. Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, pop star Kesha, Eurovision sensation Sam Ryder, and The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins also attended the event.
Elton John called Hawkins “an incredible drummer” and recalled him “playing on my last album, which I was so thrilled about and honoured” in a pre-recorded message.
“Tonight is about remembering him, honouring him, and never forgetting him,” John told PA.
Comedians Dave Chappelle and Jason Sudeikis also took the stage to share stories about their experiences with Hawkins’ music.
Concertgoers described the atmosphere as “incredible,” telling CNN that everyone was there to honour Hawkins and that “it couldn’t have been better.”
“Being the first gig since he died, it was really emotional, really raw,” Carolina Madeira said. “Dave [Grohl] almost broke down, and the atmosphere was incredible; everyone was cheering him on and trying to encourage him to keep singing. I was sobbing like a baby, and everyone else was as well.”
The 35-year-old stated that she had no idea where Hawkins’ son obtained the strength to perform, adding: “He was fantastic on the drums, and you could tell he had a genuine connection with the band by the energy he exuded. It’s a difficult thing to do, especially at 16, but he did it brilliantly.”
The concert on Saturday was the first of two commemorative events honouring Hawkins. On September 27, a second tribute concert will be held in Los Angeles. The proceeds from the events will be donated to the Music Support and MusiCares charities, which were chosen by the Hawkins family.
Hawkins first appeared with the Foo Fighters on the tour in support of their sophomore album, “The Colour and the Shape,” in 1997.