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Members of Pretenders, Rush, Queen, AC/DC, Police Shine at Taylor Hawkins Tribute

Taylor Hawkins was a rock'n'roll fanatic through and through, and these were some of his biggest influences
Photo: Scarlet Page

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins was a rock’n’roll fanatic through and through, and many of his most formative influences assembled tonight (Sept. 3) at London’s Wembley Stadium in tribute to the artist, who died suddenly in March at age 50.The latter portion of the concert began with The Pretenders, a band Dave Grohl said he and Hawkins “shared a musical love for” and “spent many a night singing and dancing along to.” In The Pretenders’ first live performance since 2019, the Chrissie Hynde-led group, augmented by Grohl on bass, tore through “Precious,” “Tattooed Love Boys” and “Brass in Pocket.” “He loved me, but I loved him more,” Hynde said of Hawkins before the latter song.

From there, the Joe Walsh-led James Gang played favorites such as “Funk #49” and “Walk Away” in its first live appearance in 15 years (Grohl will join them for a November charity concert in Columbus, Oh.), while AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson performed “Back in Black” and “Let There Be Rock” backed by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, and the surviving members of Foo Fighters. The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins also briefly hopped onstage to assist on vocals during “Back in Black.”

The Police’s Stewart Copeland assumed the drum stool for his old band’s “Next To You” and “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” with the surviving Foos. Grohl took on vocal duty for the first song before passing the mic to Supergrass’ Gaz Coombes.

Returning the favor for when the Foos helped induct Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, that band’s surviving members Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson led the way on performances of “2112 Overture,” “Working Man” and the classic instrumental “YYZ.” The last song was Hawkins’ favorite Rush song of all time, which he famously played with the band during a 2008 show in Toronto — a night which Grohl said may have been one of the best of Hawkins’ life. Omar Hakim sat behind the kit for that one.

The last set before Foo Fighters took the stage came from the surviving members of Queen, whose “Somebody To Love” was often sung by Hawkins during Foos shows.  A number of singers helped out on vocals during the set, with the Foos providing instrumental support. The Struts’ Luke Spiller gave his best Freddie Mercury impression during “We Will Rock You,” while Roger Taylor sang “I’m In Love With My Car with Taylor Hawkins’ godson Lucas Hawkins taking over on drums.

Justin Hawkins dueted with Roger Taylor for “Under Pressure,” while Sam Ryder took on vocals for “Somebody To Love” and Queen guitarist Brian May played an acoustic rendition of “Love of My Life” that was largely sung by the massive audience.