Oliver Taylor Hawkins (born February 17, 1972) is an American musician, best known as the drummer for the rock band Foo Fighters. Prior to joining the band in 1997, he was the touring drummer for Alanis Morissette as well as the drummer in a progressive experimental band Sylvia. In 2004, Hawkins formed his own side project, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, in which he plays drums and sings. He was voted "Best Rock Drummer" in 2005 by the United Kingdom drumming magazine Rhythm.
Life and career
Oliver Taylor Hawkins was born in Fort Worth, Texas on February 17, 1972. His family moved to Laguna Beach, California in 1976, where Hawkins grew up. Hawkins has a brother, Jason, and a sister, Heather. He attended Thurston Jr. High School and later went to Laguna Beach High School. After leaving the Orange County-based band Sylvia (later emerging as ANYONE), he joined up as the drummer for Canadian, Sass Jordan. In an interview with BBC Radio 6, Hawkins revealed that playing drums for Jordan was his "first real gig". He then left to act as the drummer for Alanis Morissette.
Between 1995 and 1996, Hawkins was the drummer for Canadian musician Alanis Morissette for her Can't Not tour. He appeared in Morissette's videos for "You Oughta Know", "All I Really Want" and "You Learn". He also appeared on Morissette's VHS/DVD Jagged Little Pill, Live (1997). Hawkins played for Alanis Morissette for 18 months prior to joining Foo Fighters.
After touring through the spring of 1996, Foo Fighters entered a Seattle studio with producer Gil Norton to record its second album. Conflict during studio recording reportedly erupted between Dave Grohl and drummer William Goldsmith, eventually causing Goldsmith to leave the band. The band regrouped in Los Angeles and almost completely re-recorded the album with Grohl on drums. The album, The Colour and the Shape, was released on May 20, 1997. Grohl called up Hawkins to recommend a new drummer, thinking that Hawkins would not leave Alanis Morissette since it's a bigger band compared to Foo Fighters, which was only starting at the time. But to Grohl's surprise, Hawkins volunteered himself, explaining that he wanted to be a drummer in a rock band, not a solo act which Alanis Morissette is. He then auditioned for and subsequently joined the band. On March 18, 1997, Hawkins' joining of the band was announced. Hawkins made his debut in time for the album's release.
When Hawkins joined the band, they were only playing at clubs or opening slots for other bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now they have been touring for nearly 25 years, playing at sold-out stadium concerts. Their biggest concert was reportedly a two-night sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium in London, where they performed for approximately 86,000 people in 2008.
In addition to his drumming duties with the Foo Fighters, Hawkins is also an accomplished rock singer, guitarist and pianist. His first lead vocal with the group was a cover of Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar". Two versions of the song were released, one as the b-side to "Learn to Fly" and another on the Mission: Impossible 2 soundtrack album. He sang lead vocals on the original "Cold Day in the Sun," from In Your Honor, which was later released as a single, and the cover of Cream's "I Feel Free," which appeared as the b-side of "DOA" and on the EP Five Songs and a Cover. Hawkins also sang lead vocals for the band's cover of Joe Walsh's "Life of Illusion." Most recently, he sang lead vocals for "Sunday Rain," a track on the Foo Fighters' 2017 album Concrete and Gold. Many Foo Fighters live shows feature Hawkins singing lead vocals on at least one cover song. He now also contributes with songwriting, he co-wrote songs like "All My Life".
In 2006, Hawkins released a self-titled LP with his side project, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders. He occasionally plays with a Police cover band alternately called "The Cops" and "Fallout."
Hawkins recorded the drum tracks for the Coheed and Cambria album Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow as the band's regular drummer, Chris Pennie, was not able to record due to contractual reasons. Also, Hawkins toured with Coheed and Cambria shortly during the months of the album. Hawkins can also be heard drumming on Eric Avery's (formerly of Jane's Addiction) first solo effort, Help Wanted and on Kerry Ellis's album, Wicked in Rock. Hawkins and Grohl split drumming duties on Harmony & Dissidence, the latest album by Foo Fighters bandmate Chris Shiflett's own side project, Jackson United.
Hawkins recorded the drum for the track "Anche se," from Vasco Rossi's demo.
Hawkins played on the track "Cyborg," from Queen guitarist Brian May's 1998 solo album, Another World; he also played drums at VH1's Rock Honors 2006 while Queen performed "We Will Rock You." He sang backing vocals on the Queen + Paul Rodgers single, "C-lebrity."
Hawkins was commissioned to complete an unfinished recording of a song by Beach Boys' drummer Dennis Wilson titled "Holy Man" by writing and singing new lyrics. The recording was released in June 2008 as part of a deluxe edition of Wilson's lone 1977 solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue.
While the Foo Fighters were on break, Hawkins played in a three-piece cover band, Chevy Metal, that played lesser known tracks by ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Van Halen, Queen, and Black Sabbath. Hawkins continues to play in Chevy Metal, with the addition of fellow Foo Fighters bandmate Chris Shiflett now on guitar.
In 2011, Hawkins recorded drums for songs by Vasco Rossi.
In June 2012, it was announced that Hawkins was cast in the role of Iggy Pop in the rock film CBGB.
Hawkins recorded the drums on Vasco Rossi's last song, "L'uomo più semplice." This song was released on 21 January 2013 in Italy.
In March 2014, Hawkins announced his new side project called The Birds of Satan. It features Hawkins' drum technician and bandmate from Chevy Metal, Wiley Hodgden on bass guitar and vocals as well as guitarist Mick Murphy also of Chevy Metal. The band's self-titled debut album was released in April 2014, with a release party at 'Rock n Roll Pizza' featuring the Foo Fighters guesting on some of the cover tracks.
In an interview with Radio X, Hawkins revealed that his initial idea with his solo projects were to duet with female singers.
He has invited other stars to sing in Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders album 'Get the Money', like LeAnn Rimes, on one of his songs titled "C U In Hell". Other musicians who has appeared in his projects include: Roger Taylor, Brian May, Dave Grohl, Nancy Wilson, Joe Walsh, and many more.
Hawkins has said that his drumming has been chiefly influenced by classic rock drummers. His main influences are Phil Collins of Genesis, Stewart Copeland of The Police, Roger Taylor of Queen, Stephen Perkins of Jane's Addiction, Jim Gordon of Derek and the Dominos and Neil Peart of Rush. He was once guest editor of Rhythm and interviewed Collins, Copeland, Taylor and Perkins for the issue.
It was thanks to Rush that I got into Genesis. After listening to Neil, I bought the Seconds Out live album, which was released in 1977. It's just amazing. Not only hearing Phil Collins playing the drums, but also singing. He gets a really bad rap from some people for 'daring' to take over after Peter Gabriel quit, but you just hear the way he sounds here. The beauty of this album is that it's got songs from …Trick Of The Tail, the first album Genesis did without Gabriel. Collins is an incredible drummer. Anyone who wants to be good on the drums should check him out – the man is a master.
Hawkins' first two major inspirations were Roger Taylor and Stewart Copeland. He reported that due to these two drummers' different styles, it gave him a wide spectrum of drumming style. He also mentions that he would play along songs on the radio or records, like Queen's "News of the World", to enhance his skills when he was young.
Hawkins and his wife, Alison Hawkins, have three children. Their son, Oliver Shane, was born in 2006; their daughter, Annabelle, was born in winter, 2009; and their second daughter, Everleigh, was born in November, 2014.
They reside in Hidden Hills, California after moving from Topanga Canyon in 2012.
Hawkins overdosed on heroin in 2001, which put him in a coma for two weeks. Speaking to Beats 1 host Matt Wilkinson in 2018 about the incident, Hawkins said: “I was partying a lot. I wasn’t a junkie per se, but I was partying. There was a year where the partying just got a little too heavy. Thank God on some level this guy gave me the wrong line with the wrong thing one night and I woke up going, ‘What the fuck happened?’ That was a real changing point for me.”
He is a childhood friend of current Yes lead vocalist Jon Davison. Hawkins was the one who suggested Davison to Yes bassist Chris Squire even before the departure of replacement vocalist Benoit David. "Strangely enough, Jon's name came up when we started working with Benoit," Squire recalled. "In fact, my friend, Taylor Hawkins, had been telling me for years: 'If you ever need a replacement (singer), I know exactly the guy.'"
- There Is Nothing Left to Lose – (1999)
- One by One – (2002)
- In Your Honor – (2005)
- Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace – (2007)
- Wasting Light – (2011)
- Sonic Highways – (2014)
- Saint Cecilia (EP) – (2015)
- Concrete and Gold - (2017)
Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders
- Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders (2006)
- Red Light Fever (2010)
- Get the Money (2019)
The Birds of Satan
- The Birds of Satan – (2014)
Coheed and Cambria
- Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow – (2007)
- Kota (EP) (2016)