Like most people, I woke up on March 26, 2022 to the sudden and unexpected news of Taylor Hawkins passing. At first I couldn’t believe it, but as I continued to scroll through Twitter it was all that I saw. A man whose spirit for music and life was so great it drew thousands of people into the world of Foo Fighters music was gone too soon.
While laying there in my bed wrangling with the emotions of someone that you felt like you knew suddenly passing, my natural empathy and sympathy for his family, friends, and bandmates kicked in. I wondered the emotions that they were experiencing, getting that sudden news that they had lost a loved one thousands of miles away from home, hours before a concert, off doing the thing he loved most. It’s almost always more tragic when someone so full of life leaves us unexpectedly. However, it is even more heartbreaking when the cause of death seems so preventable, but that’s what has inspired me to write.
I was not a really huge fan of the Foo Fighters. I had seen them in concert, which was absolutely amazing, over 20 years ago, and I have a few of their albums. I was never really drawn to their music as much as I was to their authenticity and ability to connect with people. Quite simply, I bought their music because I liked them as people. Watching them play or listening to them give an interview was always so much more engaging to me than actually listening to their music. Front and center to all of that was Dave Grohl, but right behind him, both figuratively and literally, was Taylor Hawkins. He seemed to be one of the few people that could match Grohl’s quick wit and boundless energy. It’s why the first person I thought of when I heard the news was Dave Grohl. My heart broke for him, and I don’t even know him. However, when you listen to interviews with Grohl and Hawkins, you do feel like you know them. I wasn’t sad about the future of the Foo Fighters; I felt a personal sadness that someone so likeable was dealing with tragedy. Even though he has been through this with Kurt Cobain, the relationship he had with Taylor Hawkins was so much deeper and genuine. It’s the same sadness I feel when an actual friend of mine loses a loved one, and it’s a sadness I hope that Hawkins’ death can serve as a reminder to all of us that we need to remember that everyone who dies has loved ones that mourn them.
Too many times in our country we become callous and judgemental of what we see and hear on the news. Unfortunately, Hawkins had a combination of illegal drugs in his system that likely caused his death. While the world mourns for him and those close to him, nearly 70,000 people die annually of drug issues without so much as a passing thought from others. Those that do make the news and do garner a thought from those that don’t know them, they typically get a callous response of who cares, or they got what they deserved. Is that how you felt when you heard the news about Taylor Hawkins? Why not? Did you really know him? Or, were you sad because he somehow contributed to moments of joy in your life?
Now, it is possible and likely that you’ve never met most people that have a drug overdose and fatally as a result. I am one of those people, and I am thankful for that. However, it doesn’t mean that those people didn’t bring joy to others around them in their lives, and that they shouldn’t be treated with the same sadness as the loss of a celebrity. I doubt people would say Hawkins’ death did society a favor, but if I asked a random person about a stranger overdosing on the other side of town that they had never met I probably wouldn’t have to go too far to get that response from someone I know. To me, that is really sad, and I hope that we can change that as a society.
Our modern world lacks empathy of any sort. I fear that technology is making us feel so much less connected to people emotionally, despite bringing us closer in many ways. I hope the next time you see or hear that someone has died from a drug related incident, you think about them in a positive way. They more than likely did many things to help society, just like the celebrities you mourn. The random stranger that dies from a drug related incident could have bagged peoples groceries at one point, put a roof on many houses, kept the books for an important company, provided health care to those in needs, or cleaned your dishes at a restaurant. Regardless of what they did, they were a person that was connected to others, and those other people left behind have the same emotions as Dave Grohl or others that you pretend to know.
Taylor Hawkins death is a tragedy. He’ll forever be the guy with the long blonde hair thrashing around on the drums and smiling in some of my favorite music videos of all time. I’m going to miss listening to him on interviews. I’m going to miss the smile that reminded us why we all wanted to be a rock star at some point. However, I’m also going to take his tragic death as a reminder to feel this way towards those that I don’t know and never met. Any life that is lost before its natural time is a tragedy. Please remember that the next time you cast judgement on someone’s habits. Everyone has a reason for the choices they make. It is not your responsibility to cast judgement on them, but it is your responsibility to try and show compassion to those around us, whether you ‘know’ them or not. I believe that Taylor Hawkins would want that as his legacy, and I know we would be a much better society if we all acted that way.