It’s been two months since a call went out from Casa Medina, a Four Seasons property, in an area of Bogotá, Colombia called Chapinero. It was 7:40 pm on Friday, March 25, and a guest was complaining of severe chest pains. But by the time EMS responders showed up, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins was gone.
Since then, fans have been kept in the dark. What was the cause of death? Where was the official toxicology report? What did the autopsy say? When and where was the funeral? Why has there been complete radio silence from the band? And how is it possible that no information has leaked out?
The news blackout surrounding Taylor’s death has been airtight. Until now.
A story in Rolling Stone entitled “Inside Taylor Hawkins’ Final Days as a Foo Fighter” was published online late Monday night (May 16). Some 20 people close to Taylor were interviewed (including Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron, RHCP’s Chad Smith, and Taylor’s drum tech, Chad “Yeti” Ward) and they helped shed some light on Taylor’s physical and mental health leading up to that night in Bogotá .
The article is a must-read, and although some of the details and assertions made have been met with either denials or no comment from the Foos organization, it could fill in some important blanks. (For background, you can read what I’ve written on Taylor’s death here and here.) I should also mention the Rolling Stone article confirms a few things I’ve heard through various backdoor channels.
Let’s take things one by one.
Taylor’s Drug Use
After falling into a two-week coma after an OD in 2001, Taylor claimed to have gone straight. Those close to him say that he threw his energies into mountain biking and other fitness activities. And hard drugs on a show day? Never.
But What About the Infamous Toxicology Report?
That was a preliminary report out of Colombia issued within about 24 hours of his death. And yes, it listed ten different substances apparently found in his system, including marijuana, opioids, tricyclic antidepressants, and benzodiazepines via a urine sample and not a full blood panel. Even today, though, there’s never been an official report from the US confirming that, nor do we know the actual concentrations and combinations of these medications. (One of my sources say that the family has been disputing this toxicology report.)
Okay, so why were any drugs in his system?
Opioids could have been prescribed as a painkiller. Rolling Stone says that the rigors of playing drums for three hours a night in a band as intense as the Foo Fighters were taking a toll on Taylor’s body. I quote: “[Taylor was] “Trying really hard to figure out how to continue to keep the intensity of a young man in a 50-year-old’s body, which is very difficult.”
The benzos and anti-depressants could have been related to Taylor’s chronic stage fright. You’d never know it to watch the Foos perform, but Taylor was apparently having serious insecurity issues about not being good enough to be in the band like the Foos. The article says that Taylor felt as if he were “in hell.”
The “powder-like” substances allegedly found in his hotel room? Rolling Stone says there was definitely no cocaine present. And any junkie will tell you that there’s no way you can shoot up on a show day, especially if you’re going to play as hard as Taylor did.
I quote: “Taylor never played fucked up in his life. He always played sober as can be. That was a show day. So for somebody to say that he was doing drugs that day, that is just about the most false thing anybody could ever say about him. ”
An overdose? Nope. Not likely at all. In fact, I’d rule it out completely.
What About His Enlarged Heart?
When he died, a preliminary report said his heart weighed 600 grams, twice the weight of a man his age and size. As I said, Taylor became a fitness fanatic after his heroin “extended nap” (his words) in 2001. And as any drummer will tell you, playing night after night is a physical workout akin to running a marathon. Taylor and his doctor knew about his “runner’s heart” (his doctor’s words) for quite some time before his death. It is also possible to have a cardiac collapse without drugs being the trigger. After an incident last December (see below), Taylor eased up on the mountain biking to give his heart a break.
So to all the anti-vaxxers who say that his enlarged heart was a side effect of a COVID vaccine, get lost. His heart was that size long before the pandemic.
It was also known that Taylor suffered from sleep apnea, which if left untreated can lead to other health issues.
Was It Taylor That Forced the Foo Fighters to Cancel their F1 Appearance Last December?
Apparently. If you remember the story, the Foos were scheduled to play a post-race gig at the last F1 race of the season in Abu Dhabi last December 12. The band flew private from LA to Chicago where they were scheduled to connect with a scheduled Etihad flight to the Middle East. However, the gig was canceled when an unnamed member of the band was taken to the hospital in Chicago. (This confirms what I heard from one of my sources.)
According to Rolling Stone, that member was Taylor. He lost consciousness on the private jet and was rushed to the hospital upon landing.
I quote Chad Smith: “He just said he was exhausted and collapsed, and they had to pump him full of IVs and stuff. He was dehydrated and all kinds of stuff. ” The specifics of the collapse are still unknown.
Management says “This is not true.”
Taylor Was Exhausted
After the scare in Chicago, Rolling Stone alleges that he had a “heart-to-heart” with Dave and Foos management, saying that he couldn’t take the pace anymore and that they had to figure something out. He was genuinely worried that he wouldn’t be able to handle all the post-COVID rescheduled dates that the Foos had around the planet. (Foos management says there was no “heart-to-heart.”)
I quote: “He tried to keep up,” [Matt] Cameron says. “He just did whatever it took to keep up, and in the end he couldn’t keep up.”
I quote Yeti: “He was looking anorexic there for a while. Right before they left for South America [this year] he told me, ‘Man, Yeti, you’d be so proud of me. I got a trainer. I’m doing things right. I’ve gained 15 pounds already. I’m getting things back on track. ‘ He was definitely stressed out over the last couple years, because he definitely was showing it in his weight. ”
Chad Smith: “In the last few months, he was getting into lifting weights and drinking these electrolytes and was really trying to do things to help play at the level that he wanted to play at.”
Bottom line is that we still don’t know why Taylor died. But if this information is true, some of the misinformation that’s been circulating can be exposed and speculation debunked.
Again, you need to read the entire article in Rolling Stone. Now that information is starting to flow, there’s bound to be more as the taboo on reporting on this story is broken. We can debate on issues involving privacy and the wishes of Taylor’s family and the rest of the Foo Fighters, but that all may soon be moot.