Taylor Hawkins Uneasy With Foo Fighters’ Touring Schedule Before Death, Friends Say

“He told me that he ‘couldn’t f**king do it anymore’ — those were his words,” Pearl Jam’s Matt Cameron told Rolling Stone.
Taylor Hawkins performing in São Paulo in 2018.
Taylor Hawkins performing in São Paulo in 2018.
Mauricio Santana via Getty Images

UPDATE: May 18 —

Matt Cameron of Pearl Jam and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers both posted statements to social media on Monday saying that Rolling Stone took their comments about the late Taylor Hawkins out of context in a recent article.

Both musicians said that the magazine asked them to share memories of the late drummer and thought they were participating in a loving tribute to their friend.

Smith called the article “sensationalized and misleading.”

“I have only the deepest love and respect for Taylor, Dave and the Foo Fighters families,” Cameron wrote in his statement. “I am truly sorry to have taken part in this interview and I apologize that my participation may have caused harm to those whom I have only the deepest respect and admiration.”

PREVIOUSLY:

Those who were close to Taylor Hawkins are offering another perspective on his death.

Rolling Stone published a lengthy piece Monday in which the magazine interviewed dozens of the late Foo Fighters drummer’s friends. They allege that the band’s ambitious touring schedule had been taking a toll — mentally and physically — on Hawkins for years.

An anonymous source, whom Rolling Stone describes as Hawkins’ colleague and friend, claimed that it took the drummer “a year of working up the guts” to finally speak to Foo Fighters frontman and founder Dave Grohl about how overwhelmed and burnt out he felt.

Meanwhile, Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron explained to the magazine that Hawkins “had a heart-to-heart with Dave [Grohl] and, yeah, he told me that he ‘couldn’t fucking do it anymore’ — those were his words.”

“So I guess they did come to some understanding, but it just seems like the touring schedule got even crazier after that,” Cameron said.

Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl performing together in 2000.
Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl performing together in 2000.
Tim Mosenfelder via Getty Images

Chad Smith, the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, recalled having a similar conversation after Hawkins collapsed on a plane in Chicago in December 2021.

“That was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back,” Smith said. “After that, he had a real important heart-to-heart with Dave and the management. He said, ‘I can’t continue on this schedule, and so we’ve got to figure out something.’”

Grohl’s and Hawkins’ families declined to comment to Rolling Stone. But a Foo Fighters representative disputed the “characterizations” made by Hawkins’ friends and denied that the drummer had ever raised issues with Grohl or the band’s management prior to his death.

Hawkins performing in 2017 in San Francisco.
Hawkins performing in 2017 in San Francisco.
Steve Jennings via Getty Images

Although friends said that Hawkins had spoken to Grohl about scaling back, Cameron said Hawkins finally gave in to the touring schedule, explaining that the Foo Fighters is “a big machine [with] a lot of people on the payroll.”

“So you’ve got to really be cognizant of the business side of something when it’s that big and that has inherent pressure, just like any business,” Cameron told Rolling Stone.

Hawkins died in March at age 50 in Bogotá, Colombia, while the band was embarking on a tour of South America.

Colombia’s prosecutor’s office released a statement saying toxicological tests initially found 10 psychoactive substances and medicines, including marijuana and opioids, in Hawkins’ system, The Associated Press reported. Official autopsy results are not yet public.

Although Rolling Stone notes that Hawkins survived a heroin overdose two decades ago that left him in a coma, his friends were skeptical that he was using drugs recreationally at the time of his death.

“Since [his overdose], he never wanted Dave to worry about that again,” said Chad “Yeti” Ward, an old drum tech of Hawkins’ who remained close with the drummer after parting ways with the Foo Fighters.

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