Foo Fighters fans flocked to the Kia Forum on Tuesday night for the Los Angeles edition of the Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts, the first of which took place in London earlier this month. Photos of the late drummer — who died suddenly in March at the age of 50 while Foo Fighters were on tour — adorned the walls of the arena, and his signature hawk logo was omnipresent as thousands of admirers came to pay their respects, many of them already sporting the limited edition merch made for the event.
“It’s a revolving door of rock heroes tonight,” Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl said during one of the many times he addressed the crowd during the six-hour concert, and he couldn’t have been more accurate. The impressive lineup was practically a lesson in rock ‘n’ roll history, including the likes of Joan Jett, Travis Barker, Josh Homme, Wolfgang Van Halen, Alanis Morrissette, Pink, Miley Cyrus, Stewart Copeland and Chad Smith as well as members of Queen, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Soundgarden, Rush, Metallica and Black Sabbath. There was also comedic relief in the form of Jack Black and Dave Chappelle. But perhaps the most special guest was Shane Hawkins, the 16-year-old son of Taylor, who joined Foo Fighters on drums at the end of the show for an emotional performance of “My Hero” and “I’ll Stick Around.”
Below, find the 10 most memorable moments from the concert — which, besides being a memorial for Hawkins, also served as a benefit for Music Support and MusiCares — from Dave Chappelle’s cover of “Creep” to Pink rocking out with Queen.
Violet Grohl Opens With ‘Hallelujah‘
The show opened on a somber note as Dave Grohl’s 16-year-old daughter, Violet, took the stage to perform a haunting rendition of Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Accompanied only by multi-instrumentalist Alain Johannes on guitar, Violet’s silky-smooth voice floated through the crowd as concertgoers sang along, priming the audience for what would be an otherwise high-voltage night.
Joan Jett and Travis Barker Bring ‘Cherry Bomb’
The energy was soon kicked up a notch as Joan Jett enlisted Travis Barker and Foo Fighters for a blistering performance of the Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” and her solo hit “Bad Reputation.” Despite her badass nature, Jett was visibly emotional as she addressed the crowd. “I was honored that he was a fan of mine, too, of my music,” she said while wiping away tears. “So I just want to say thank you for having me, thanks Taylor for being there with me. And we’ll form our supergroup when I get there with you.”
Kesha Goes Glam-Rock (and Loses Her Top)
After Jett, Hawkins’ son Shane came on stage to introduce the next act, Hawkins’ cover band Chevy Metal. Greeted by rapturous applause, Shane said, “I’m supposed to introduce a band called Chevy Metal. Uh, I’m really nervous. So this is one of the best fucking, uh, cover bands I’ve ever heard in my life.” After performing “Owner of a Lonely Heart” with Yes’ current touring lead singer, Jon Davison — who happens to be Hawkins’ childhood best friend — Kesha arrived, decked out in silver, to perform David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Channeling her inner glam-rock diva, Kesha showcased her impressive vocals and stage presence as the crowd sang along. About halfway through the song, Kesha played off a wardrobe malfunction as her bedazzled bra top broke, revealing silver star pasties. “Not to make light of the situation, but Taylor would have loved that my tits just fell out,” Kesha joked before covering her chest and prancing off stage.
Miley Cyrus Croons ‘Photograph’ With Def Leppard
Following a rousing set by Wolfgang Van Halen that included “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher,” the glam-metal trend continued with an appearance by Def Leppard. Before jumping into “Rock of Ages,” Joe Elliott shared with the crowd that Hawkins had once sold Phil Collen guitar strings at a music store in Laguna Hills. Cyrus then sauntered on stage, rocking a short black dress and big sunglasses, to sing “Photograph.” Cyrus once again proved herself the queen of covers, as her deep, raspy voice added a modern twist on the song, often overpowering Elliott.
Pink Earns MVP Status With Heart, Queen and Foo Fighters
If there was a MVP award of the night, it would have undoubtedly gone to Pink, who appeared on stage for three different songs with three iconic bands and crushed all of them. First up was Heart’s “Barracuda” with Nancy Wilson and Queens of the Stone Age’s Jon Theodore, which Pink’s alto belt sailed through with ease. Later in the show, Grohl introduced Roger Taylor and Brian May of Queen, and Pink delivered a powerful version of “Somebody to Love,” getting the crowd to sing along as the concert approached midnight. And to top it all off, Pink guested during Foo Fighters’ set at the very end of the tribute to duet on “The Pretender” with Grohl, never missing a beat.
Chad Smith Drums for Alanis Morissette on ‘You Oughta Know’
Hawkins got his start as the drummer for Alanis Morissette back in the ’90s, so it was only fitting that she would perform “You Oughta Know” with Chris Chaney, her former touring bassist. Taking over on drums was Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, another longtime friend of Hawkins (notably, Foo Fighters opened on a leg of the Chili Peppers’ Californication Tour in 2000). Though Morissette jumped right into the song and didn’t offer any remarks, her minute-long hug with Grohl after the final chords rang out said it all.
Jack Black Intros Rush
In a surprise appearance, Jack Black stopped by the tribute to offer some words on Hawkins and introduce the next act, Rush. “Did anyone come to Dave’s 45th birthday?” Black asked as the crowd went wild. “One for the ages. And Taylor just fucking tore it apart. And I snuck backstage before the show started, and I poked my head into Taylor’s dressing room and he was just fucking practicing as hard as hell. And it was a beautiful thing to see because he was serious, no fucking around. He really meant it and it was important to him. He didn’t want to do a good show, he wanted to fucking blow people’s minds. He did. He did it every time. And the other time I saw him in this room, he was not blowing minds, he was in the audience just like you, and he was watching one of the best fucking shows of all time. You know what I’m talking about? They’re about to come out right now. It’s my honor to introduce one of Taylor’s favorite bands of all time. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Rush.”
Supported by rotating drummers including Grohl, Smith and Tool’s Danny Carey, Rush — which has been inactive since drummer Neil Peart died in 2020 — then delivered an air-tight performance of “2112: Overture,” “Working Man” and Hawkins’ favorite Rush song, “YYZ.”
Brian May Dedicates ‘Love of My Life’ to Taylor and Alison Hawkins
In one of the most tender moments of the show, Brian May took the stage solo to perform the ballad “Love of My Life.” He explained that he wasn’t planning on performing the song, but Hawkins’ widow, Alison, asked him to. “I want you to do it for me and Taylor because it was our song,” May said, recounting Alison’s words. “It was played at our wedding. She said, ‘Get everybody to sing it as my gift to the love of my life.'” May sang the tune in a choked-up voice as phone flashlights lit up the arena, and Alison and her children came on stage and embraced.
Dave Chappelle Covers ‘Creep’
In perhaps the strangest moment of the night, comedian Dave Chappelle came on stage and, instead of doing stand-up, launched into a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Waving a cigarette in the air, Chappelle sang the song karaoke-style, slightly off-tune and with a cheeky smile. Though seemingly random, this is not the first time Chappelle and Foo Fighters have played this song together — the comedian joined them at their Madison Square Garden show in June 2021 for a similar performance. As the song ended, Chappelle dropped the mic and walked off stage as Grohl laughed, “Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?”
Foos Bring a Rotating Lineup of Drummers, Including Taylor’s Son
The night ended with an 11-song Foo Fighters set, during which the group changed out drummers for every song, including Travis Barker for “Walk,” Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron for “Low,” Weezer’s Pat Wilson for “Sky Is a Neighborhood” and Omar Hakim for “Run.” But the most important guest drummer of all was Hawkins’ son, Shane, who took the coveted seat for an emotional “My Hero” and fast-paced “I’ll Stick Around.” Shane clearly shares his father’s ability, keeping up with the Foos in near-perfect time and taking out all his emotions on the kit. He wasn’t the only drummer to show emotion during the last few songs — Rufus Taylor broke down while drumming “Best of You,” and Smith had to take a moment before launching into the show’s last song, “Everlong.” But there was plenty of support to go around, as everyone exchanged tight hugs and long embraces as the night came to a close.