[Note: This article has been updated with a few footnotes in response to some of the comments below. – AC]
Hang on, people. We need to calm the f**k down a little bit. We don’t know enough about Taylor Hawkins’ death to declare ANYTHING just yet. (Trolls: Read this article carefully because you be succumb to your troll tendencies.)
Do any search for “Taylor Hawkins cause of death” and you’ll get 36 million hits that inevitably mention that he had “10 substances in his body” when he died. There was also an irresponsible comment by a Colombian official about finding “a cocaine-like white powder and hallucinogens” in his hotel room. Let’s look at these facts.
First, we need to look at those 10 substances. The preliminary toxicology reported that they included marijuana (big deal), tricyclic antidepressants (prescriptive medicines), benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety and insomnia meds), and opioids (could be anything from codeine cough syrup on up). Nothing on that list points to anything that could necessarily cause an overdose.
FOOTNOTE: We don’t have a full list of those 10 substances or in what concentrations they appeared. Hell, if you took my blood now, you’d find a couple of those chemicals. I’d test positive as the result of a couple of over-the-counter codeine painkillers I took for a headache earlier this afternoon. We also don’t know which benzos and which opiates in what combinations and in what concentrations. Could be something here. Or maybe not. We’ll see. And yes, I did report on these “10 substances” when the story first broke because that was an early part of the narrative. But it’s also important to follow up with new details and, if necessary, corrections and clarifications. That’s how responsible journalism works.
Second, what about the “cocaine-like white powder and hallucinogens?” No analysis of said substances has been released, so there’s no proof of anything. At least not yet. Reports also made much of the fact that “an empty beer can, an open bottled of vodka, and a bottle of Coke” were found in Taylor’s hotel room. Big friggin’ deal.
FOOTNOTE: We’ve heard nothing more about coke or hallucinogens from anyone in any country.
Third, we need to pay more attention to the fact that Taylor suffered chest pains before he died, the thing that send people scrambling for a doctor. The preliminary cause of death is listed as “cardiovascular collapse.”
An autopsy revealed that Taylor’s heart was twice the size (600 grams vs 300 grams) of a man his size and age. An enlarged heart–it’s called cardiomegaly–is not a disease unto itself; instead, it’s symptomatic of something else. Hearts can get big as a result of high blood pressure, thyroid issues, a virus, infection, stress on the body (it can happen with pregnancy), an injury to the heart muscle, or a congenital condition. And yes, cocaine and alcohol can be contributing factors. A possibility, yes, but not yet proven.
FOOTNOTE: Anti-vaxxers (see comments below) were quick to blame an mRNA COVID vaccine for Taylor’s enlarged heart. And yes, myocarditis–an inflammation of the heart muscle leading to the organ getting bigger–has been documented as a rare side effect in some recipients of a vaccine. It can affect even high-performance athletes (cf. Alphonso Davis of Canada’s national soccer team). And yes, myocarditis can cause a chronically inflamed heart. However, Taylor’s heart had apparently been enlarged for quite some time. From the sound of it, this condition could perhaps pre-date the onset of the pandemic, long before anyone had any vaccinations. Again, let’s not jump to conclusions just yet. This might be proven correct down the line, but we’ve got nothing yet.
In an interview with Rolling Stone publishing in June 2021, he claimed to be very healthy–and he alludes to his heart.
“I got the message [after his 2001 heroin OD], which was very important. And I’m lucky. I’m just lucky that I did get the message at the right time. So yeah, I’m healthy. I’m good … I get sinus infections really bad. And I just found out from my doctor, got all my blood tests and my heart everything checked and he goes, ‘Dude, you’re in amazing shape. Your heart’s big, because you exercise a lot. It’s like a runner’s heart.‘ And that’s fine. The only thing is, he said, ‘I think you have sleep apnea.’ And my wife’s always saying you snore and you fucking make weird noises while you’re sleeping and stuff.”
FOOTNOTE: Some commenters call Taylor a “junkie.” A junkie is a habitual and regular user of hard drugs like heroin. Yes, Taylor managed to get himself in a coma two decades ago because he ingested some heroin at a party under unknown circumstances. But if he was clean and sober in the years since, that hardly qualifies him as a junkie. Way too harsh, dudes. And any comments alluding to recent regular drug use are, at this point, hearsay. Let’s wait for collaboration from reputable sources–if it comes at all.
Finally, there’s an unresolved story from last November. Remember when the Foo Fighters had to cancel their appearance at the final F1 race in Abu Dhabi last year? The band flew private to Chicago where they were supposed to connect to a scheduled Etihad flight. But when they landed, an unidentified member of the band was transferred to the hospital.
That was the end of the story. There was never any follow-up. But in light of what happened in Colombia, might that have been Taylor having cardiac issues? It’s certainly possible.
Pending a full report, let’s please back away from the he-definitely-and-obviously-died-of-a-drug-overdose thing. There’s no proof that’s what happened and there’s a lot of other circumstantial evidence that could point to something else.
FOOTNOTE: I’m not protecting anyone. I’m merely saying that we should withhold judgment until all the facts are in. And no, I’m not a doctor, forensic scientist, or coroner. Everything I’ve written is available from Dr. Google. Oh, and those two commenters who claim to be doctors: If that’s your command of written English, then I wouldn’t want to be treated by you. Ever.