Oliver Taylor Hawkins (born February 17, 1972) is an American musician, best known as the drummer of the rock band Foo Fighters. Prior to joining the band in 1997, he was the touring drummer for Alanis Morissette on her Jagged Little Pill and Can't Not Tour, as well as the drummer in a progressive experimental band called Sylvia. He currently moonlights as "Animal" in "The Muppets Do Christmas On Broadway." His cousin, Kevin Harrell, introduced him to Dave Grohl after camping with him for several weeks in the Ozarks. Hawkins would eventually become the drummer for Grohl's band, Foo Fighters. He was voted "Best Rock Drummer" in 2005 by the UK 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 Sass Jordan, which in turn he left to act as the drummer for Alanis Morissette. He has appeared in Morissette's videos for "You Oughta Know" and "You Learn."
After touring through the spring of 1996, Foo Fighters entered a Seattle studio with producer Gil Norton to record its second album. Conflict reportedly erupted between Dave Grohl and then current 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, and to Grohl's surprise, Hawkins volunteered himself. He then auditioned for and subsequently joined the band, making his debut in time for the album's release.
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."
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.
Taylor 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, Taylor recorded drums for songs by Vasco Rossi.
Taylor recorded the drums on Vasco Rossi's last song, "L'uomo più semplice." This song was released on January 21 in Italy.
In March 2014, Taylor 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.
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 struggled with addiction throughout the mid- to late-1990s, culminating with an overdose on heroin in 2001 while on tour with Foo Fighters in London. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl sat beside Hawkins' hospital bed until he woke up.
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, whose name has not yet been disclosed, was born in November, 2014.
They currently reside in Hidden Hills, California after moving from Topanga Canyon in 2012. Hawkins is also very athletic and loves to go mountain biking. He usually bikes with fellow Foo Fighters bandmate Nate Mendel.
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.'"
In a Howard Stern interview with Dave Grohl and Taylor, Dave said that Taylor looked like both Beavis from Beavis and Butthead and Brad Pitt and that he called him Beavis Pitt!
- 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)
Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders
The Birds of Satan
- The Birds of Satan – (2014)