Music History

What can a band do when a key member dies? Let’s explore the Foo Fighters situation

[This was my weekly column for – AC]

One of the knocks against the Foo Fighters has been that they’re not dangerous or consumed with drama.

But that’s been very much by design. Dave Grohl had no intention of reliving the trauma that followed the death of Kurt Cobain. Foos guitarist Pat Smear was not only a touring guitarist with Nirvana back in 1994, but in 1980, he’d been a member of an LA punk band called The Germs. The night before John Lennon was shot, singer Darby Crash died of a heroin overdose.

There was some danger/drama in 2001 when drummer Taylor Hawkins ended up in a two-week coma after a heroin overdose in London — an incident that he said scared him straight — but outside of that, the Foos appeared to have been squeaky clean. With everyone united in the goal of becoming the biggest rock band in the world, bad behaviour that risked sabotaging everything was not tolerated.

But then Taylor Hawkins, the most beloved member of the band next to Dave Grohl (and Dave’s best friend in the whole world), suffered some kind of cardiovascular event in Bogotá, Colombia, back on March 25 and died.

A preliminary autopsy determined that his heart was enlarged to 600 grams, twice the size of a man his size and age. An enlarged heart isn’t a disease unto itself but a symptom of something else: acute high blood pressure, thyroid issues, congenital problems, and more.

With such a key member of the group gone forever, the Foo Fighters will have to figure out a new path for the future. What might that be? There will definitely be a series of difficult band meetings in the coming weeks that will also involve family, friends, and management.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38550 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “What can a band do when a key member dies? Let’s explore the Foo Fighters situation

  • Even though Neil Peart wasn’t a founding member of Rush, I think we can all agree; even if Geddy and Alex collaborate again; that there is no Rush without Neil. I think the same thing can be said about Taylor…yes it’s Dave’s band but you can’t just replace a member as important as Taylor and call it the same thing. This isn’t Spinal Tap.

  • I think the band is retired, and most of the guys reform as a new group. Given how many times Smear has said he’s tired of touring, maybe he takes this opportunity to step away too.
    As for drummers for the new band, I wonder if Jimmy Chamberlain might be up for the gig?


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