[Note: Before you go any further, you should probably read my post “People Need to Stop Jumping to Conclusions About Taylor Hawkins’ Death.” I also may add more to this post as I continue to brood over the situation. – AC]
Stop right now if you’re expecting some salacious gossip about the death of Taylor Hawkins because you’re not going to find it here. Instead, this is a contemplation on something delicate and tricky: When do Taylor’s family, the Foo Fighters, and the Foos organization fill in the blanks about why he died? Or should they?
It’s been more than two weeks since we got the news. Outside of a statement asking for privacy and an announcement that all Foos concerts have been canceled for the foreseeable future, the news blackout has been total. Nothing has come since the paparazzi covered the repatriation of Taylor’s body, stories that came with photos (invasive ones at that) of a very distraught Dave Grohl at LAX. Nothing about a funeral or memorial service. No news about a cemetery. No further forensic information from coroners in both Colombia and LA, other than that hastily-issued statement about “10 drugs being found in his system.” Hardly an official toxicology report. (Again, read my other post before you comment about that.)
I haven’t seen any stories on any news sites or sites that report on music news. Even more shocking is that we haven’t had a single report from TMZ, The Daily Mail, or any number of online pap/gossip sites that are normally awash in this sort of thing. (If I’m wrong, please let me know so I can make the correction.)
How do you do that in this day and age, especially in the Foos’ home base of LA where every second person could be a paid gossip informant? Somebody managed to call off the dogs. Amazing.
Compare this to all the coverage of the death of Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, or any other musician who has died in the last five years, Props to those who have kept a tight lid on things to keep things private.
But then there’s the other side of the story. As a famous person, information about Taylor’s death is newsworthy and (some would argue) in the public interest.
Frankly, I’m torn. Hear me out.
If Taylor died as the result of a heart condition…
…that information would put all the rumours of a drug overdose to rest once and for all. If it wasn’t an overdose, say it wasn’t an overdose. Knowing that would make everyone feel better. Maybe. It might even spur people to check their own health.
…if drugs were involved–or maybe drugs were a contributing factor that triggered a fatal conclusion to a pre-existing condition–then things could be spun into a cautionary tale of some sort. The Foos’ people have at least a chance of controlling the narrative before anything leaks out.
Either way, the internet abhors a vacuum, There are plenty of people who have no problem filling in the blanks with fake news and vile misinformation. That can only harm Taylor’s memory and taint the image of the Foos. Hoping that people will stop asking about what happened isn’t a viable long-term strategy.
Second, if they’re not told the truth, fans are going to be left hanging, the importance of which shouldn’t be discounted. Again, hear me out.
Although few fans personally knew Taylor, millions of people have been affected emotionally. Should that count for something?
We all turn to music to make us feel better when we’re in pain, so when that very music is associated with pain and distress, it can be deeply personal. Losing a favourite rock star becomes like losing a close friend.
And then there’s this: We may not have known the artist, but it is through their music that we learn something about ourselves. The result is a deep bond with the artist, so when they’re taken from us, our hearts can be ripped out.
Think about the world’s reaction when Bowie died. Or when we lost Prince. Or Charlie and Tom and Chris and Chester and Amy and Kurt. And let’s not even get into the loss fans felt with Elvis and John Lennon. Knowing what happened to them–even if the truth is unpleasant–somehow helps us deal with the loss. We just need to…understand, you know? This pain needs to be explained so we can process it and move on.
And if it was an overdose, so what? We’ve become so accustomed to these tragic stories that in the end, it doesn’t matter how or why a favourite musician died; all that mattered is that they were gone.
Or is wanting to know what happened selfish? Is the fans’ need to know superseded by the wishes of the people surrounding the artist?