Updated: Mar 30
It's a year today since Taylor Hawkins died. I still remember the day like it was yesterday. It was another early morning, another early wakening. Like most days I was awake before the light had struck and the day had not yet begun. I reached over to my phone and loaded up Twitter to see what was happening in the world. Like many, one of my ‘bad habits’ is spending too much time online and this day was no different. Only what happened in the world that day will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Scrolling down my timeline, it was the usual array of tweets displayed, a mesh mash of photos, politics and mostly American people I follow living out their day whilst we in the UK were in the midst of our night. It was not more than a few seconds of scrolling before I saw it, just laid out there in the middle of all of the usual Twitter stuff. White text on black, the band logo, along with the announcement that Taylor had died. To see it like that, I stopped still and had to read it again. After all, this is Twitter and in that split second, I thought that it had to be a sick joke. I read and re-read it before it finally registered. I saw the formality, the number of comments and then just knew it was true. I just couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.
I am not writing this to proclaim anything special about myself. I’m just an average fan, with no special story to tell, no claim to knowing Taylor, and in recent years I hadn’t even remained the biggest fan of the Foos. But I truly loved Taylor. Without this sounding too much like a fangirl piece, Taylor had always been special to me. While many of my friends were mad obsessed over Dave, for me it was always Taylor that stood out like a bright light in a dark room. His energy in the Foos was so much. Within all of their legacy and timelessness as a band Taylor was central to that. Anyone who thinks of Taylor will undoubtedly think of his huge smile, his energy and his humour, not to mention his ability to take on Queen covers and crazy patterned leggings - not something that for the faint-hearted. I didn’t know Taylor as a person beyond what he showed us through the media, but I can see from interviews, stories and his overall demeanour that he was a beautiful person. I am still broken that he is no longer with us.
When someone famous dies, we all see the posts and initial outpouring of tributes and emotions online. We see the news articles, at times conspiring and often getting it wrong in the rush to break the latest update, and we see everyone sharing their own story or claim to what that person meant to them. Then a few days later, once it all dies down and many move on to the next big news event, that’s when the rest of us are expected to scurry off into a quiet corner with our grief.
The Foos were introduced to me through my ex and my fandom of them carried me through our separation and beyond. I’ve only seen them live once. This was back in 2015, during the Broken Leg tour. I’d had tickets to Wembley earlier in the year but when Dave trashed his leg in Gothenburg and all of that, that plan obviously didn’t work out for any of us. So September 2015 it was. I don’t need to bore you with all of the details but I’d like to share my own brief story of an interaction with Taylor. It’s nothing special, nothing major, but it’s all I have that is personal to remember him by. Basically, he threw me his towel which sounds ridiculous, but it happened and it was actually quite funny. I was on the rail and shouted his name when the crowd went quiet, he smiled at me and threw it over to me. That’s all. I didn’t even get the towel (it landed on the edge of the stage) but it was a fleeting moment where Taylor interacted with me and that was special. Because even back then I always loved Taylor. He just meant a lot to me and I could see that he was a great person. No arrogance or trying to be cool when he could have easily claimed that in his position. He was just so down to earth, I think those of us who love him can all see that.
I think one of the many flaws of this world, is that parasocial relationships remain so gravely misunderstood. Unless you’ve had one it’s difficult to actually discuss it, but we only have to look at other losses such as those who queued and mourned the Queen to see how profound it can be. Grief is a personal process and even when you’ve never met someone our connections to them, and the emotions that we experience are all so real. When you lose someone who has meant so much to your life, be it their music, their persona or whatever else, it really hurts. It’s ok to admit that and it’s ok to reflect on what they meant to you. When Taylor died, it was like a huge chapter of my own life had ended. My own fandom for the Foos was already waning and I knew that whatever the future for them as a band it would never be the same again. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see them again, not only because of Taylor, but because I know that my disabilities will prevent it now. I’m a different person from what I was back then, but I don’t regret any of it. It really is times like those that you never forget, and those memories are so special.
Taylor has left a lot through his legacy. It is through him that I found Rush, a band with their own story of loss and damn are they incredible too. Since Taylor died I have listened long and hard to their years of music, it’s just fantastic. So Taylor’s legacy is more than just one band or one part of something, he has left behind so many great connections to explore. I mean, how awesome and funny has Wolfgang Van Halen been this week with his grape thing. I’m cracked up now when I wake each morning and see his tweets. I wouldn’t have come across these musicians without the influence of Taylor, without understanding who he was and his legacy. So Taylor can’t read this obviously but had he been able to I would thank him for everything. He did and gave so much for so long. He was a legend and I and so many others loved him so much.
As a final note, if you’re actually still here, I’ve written a short poem called 'Still'. This one is for Taylor and everyone affected by his loss. If this includes you know that it’s so real to feel this way.
Taylor was a legend who will never be forgotten.
Still turning pages
Drums the beat
Where you were
Still missing you
Still standing still
What you were
Where you are
What you left
Still flying far
If you were a fan of Taylor and have your own memories to share, or if you have been affected by parasocial grief, please feel free to connect with us on Twitter or in the comments below.