Brian May Was Surprised That Taylor Hawkins Was a Huge Queen Fan: ‘He Single-Handedly Made Queen Cool to a New Generation’

Brian May and Queen were highly influential, especially to Taylor Hawkins. The Foo Fighters drummer was only 10 when he first heard Queen’s music live at his first concert. After that, no show could compare. Hawkins’ love of Queen bled through into his own music. He brought the legendary rock band to a younger generation.

Despite May’s initial shock at how much Hawkins admired Queen, he loved that Hawkins shared them with a whole new audience.

Brian May and Taylor Hawkins performing at Scala in 2010.
Brian May and Taylor Hawkins | Rick Smee/Redferns

Brian May said he was shocked that Taylor Hawkins was such a huge Queen fan

May reflected on Hawkins, who died on March 25, and the drummer’s love for Queen during an interview on My Planet Rocks. He said he was shocked that Hawkins was such a huge fan because he was cooler than Queen was.

“The funny thing was, he turned out to be the greatest Queen fan in the world,” May said. “That was always a shock to me because he seemed to be a lot cooler than we were.”

May loves that Hawkins helped spread Queen’s music to a younger generation. “I think Taylor Hawkins single-handedly made Queen cool to a new generation. He knew everything about us… everything!

“At that point, he and (Foo Fighters guitarist) Pat Smear gave us an award at some ceremony – I can’t even remember what it was now – but it became obvious at that point really early on that they knew everything. They knew more about us than we knew! It’s always been a great thing.”

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May said it was wonderful collaborating with Hawkins on ‘Cyborg’

The Queen guitarist is celebrating the reissue of his second solo album Another World. May asked Hawkins to contribute drums on the track “Cyborg.”

Hawkins had only just joined Foo Fighters a year before in 1997 and had experience working as Alanis Morissette’s drummer for a time. It was a full-circle moment for him.

“It was wonderful,” May said of their collaboration. “Not because he was the famous Taylor Hawkins or the famous Foo Fighters, because they weren’t famous by then – they were just starting off and they were great in those early days. There was a fantastic sort of raw magic.

“I remember seeing in Brixton Academy blowing the place apart. They didn’t seem to take themselves seriously, they just kind of knocked down all the barriers and Taylor was a kid, really. He’d just come out of drumming for Alanis Morissette and he had an opportunity now to do what he really wanted to do, which was to play hard rock (music).”

“He was excited to come in and play (on ‘Cyborg’). I was excited to have him in there because my god, I hadn’t really seen anybody hit the drums like that.”

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The guitarist recalled his last phone call with Hawkins before his death

May remembered that he was always utterly enamored by Hawkins whenever he saw Foo Fighters live. He watched Hawkins the whole time just as Hawkins had done when he first saw Queen.

“Now I’ve seen a lot of the world’s greatest drummers and (I’ve) been very fortunate to work with them, but Taylor was like some kind of lightning. I don’t know what it was that he had in his body but it’s extraordinary.

“Whenever I saw Foo Fighters concerts, I ended up just watching Taylor the whole time because the way his body moves and the precision, the speed, the passion was extraordinary. There are some extraordinary drummers around, and I know lots of them, but Taylor, I think everyone will agree, was a very, very special boy. A very special golden boy.”

May also recalled his last phone call with Hawkins a week before the drummer’s death. He said they talked about making new music together.

“He’s one of these people who retained his kind of childlike quality,” May said. “He never grew up. He never became jaded with anything. I was speaking to him a week before this terrible accident happened and he was full of joys, just full of laughs and full of fun. (He was) saying, ‘When are we going to get together?! We need to make more music!,’ all this kind of stuff.”

On Hawkin’s death, May added, “I don’t like to wallow in tragedy. I don’t like to linger there. But this is life. Life is full of pain and joy, and sorrow and grief. You have to come through it all and just kind of live with it and live it.

“And music is a great way of healing, I think more than anything else. We all heal by sharing stuff through music and God knows rock music is the best music for that. That’s why I do it. I don’t think there’s any other music which is food for the soul like rock music is.”

Queen was always with Hawkins. Now, Queen will never forget Hawkins.

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