The year is 1999. Foo Fighters are on tour supporting their third studio album, There Is Nothing Left to Lose. While in London, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins receives a phone call from his mother, no less, telling him that someone from Guns N’ Roses was trying to hunt him down for an audition. In an interview with Louder, Hawkins discusses how he almost ditched Foo Fighters for a spot in the early aughts G n’ R lineup, and how Queen‘s Roger Taylor ultimately talked him out of it.
“Axl was trying to get together a new version of Guns N’ Roses, and I think he was checking around for people,” Hawkins said. “They wanted to know if I would come in and try out or whatever. It was kind of otherworldly.”
Hawkins said he sought advice from Taylor, who advised him to stay where he was. Taylor was apparently no stranger to established musicians attempting to poach him for their projects. The Queen drummer relayed an anecdote about being approached to join what would have been a supergroup involving guitar legend Mick Ronson and Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter in the ’70s. Taylor was apparently intrigued by the offer, especially given how Queen had yet to break through as the arena rock titans they were destined to become.
However, the Queen drummer ultimately decided to stay put, mainly because he felt that he had a special bond with his bandmates that couldn’t be replicated elsewhere. Hawkins says that Taylor noticed a similar bond between Hawkins and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl.
“And he said, ‘I see you and Dave onstage and there’s something you can’t buy there,” Hawkins recalled. “‘There’s something between you guys that might not be there with Axl Rose.’ And he was right.’”
In hindsight, it looks like Hawkins made the right call. Enduring as an integral member of a long-running band that regularly puts out albums and plays stadiums was a far better outcome than playing in a band helmed by a notoriously erratic frontman in a lineup that will ultimately be scrapped once most of the key original members decide to reconcile.