Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert: what to expect from the LA event

Taylor Hawkins
(Image credit: Ashley Beliveau/Getty Images)

Foo Fighterstriumphant tribute to their late drummer at Wembley Stadium on September 3 was a musical marathon that will go down in the history books as not only one of the musical highlights of the year, but a landmark set of performances of the century so far. Now, the band and an all-star line-up of guests are set to recreate the performance on September 27 at LA’s Kia Forum. 

• How to rewatch the Wembley Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert

The first concert gave us a reformed Rush, an AC/DC/Metallica collaboration, a Beatle, Stewart Copeland performing Police songs on one of the world’s biggest stages, Taylor Hawkins’ son Shane putting in a show-stealing turn behind the kit and a lot more. While a core of the concert’s bill remains similar, there are plenty of additions that could see some magical combinations. Join us as we attempt to connect the dots and play chess with a stellar line-up of musicians.

Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert

(Image credit: Foo Fighters)

1. Wembley’s key moments, recreated

Just look at the line-up! Stewart Copeland, Roger Taylor and Brian May, Josh Homme - this time joined by QOTSA drummer, Jon Theodore - Wolfgang Van Halen, Josh Freese, Rufus Taylor, and Shane Hawkins all provided some of our favourite moments at the London concert, and they’re back in the saddle for LA. 

Copeland’s Gizmodrome bandmate (and bass legend) Mark King will be there, which could add up to a reunion of sorts. However Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes isn’t on the LA show, which begs the question - will Mark King play The Police? Will Copeland play Level 42? Alanis Morissette covered King of Pain on her MTV Unplugged album, so there’s already potential there.

Shane Hawkins has wowed fans with his playing on My Hero twice now, so we’d be surprised if he didn’t pay the same tribute to his dad once more, and we can’t wait to watch Josh Freese and Rufus Taylor playing with Foo Fighters again.  

2. Rush will reunite again

Ok, so it can’t really be called a Rush reunion without Neil Peart, but this is a tribute to another sadly-missed drummer, so there’s no shortage of people backstage who cut their teeth listening to 2112.

At the London event, Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson enlisted Dave Grohl and Omar Hakim on drum duties, and just as photos of the impromptu quartet did the rounds before the London concert, Foo Fighters fan sites are already circulating a shot of Lee, Lifeson, Hakim and Grohl taken during rehearsals at Universal’s 80A Studios in Canada.

3. A Nirvana reunion is very likely

Nirvana bassist, Krist Novoselic was originally billed for both events, but was inexplicably absent from the London date. There’s been no update to the line-up for LA, and Novoselic remains on the bill, so assuming he makes it we’ll have the surviving members of Nirvana (including Foo Fighters guitarist Pat Smear) present. But there is, of course, the chasmic void left by Kurt Cobain to fill.

Grohl, Novoselic and Smear have made multiple appearances as Nirvana in recent years - most notably for the band’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2014, where they were fronted by an all-female list of guitarists/vocalists. 

Joan Jett sang Smells Like Teen Spirit, and is on the LA line-up, but were they to repeat the same idea we also have Alanis Morissette - who gave Hawkins his first big break - Pink, Miley Cyrus, Leann Rimes, Kesha, Heart’s Nancy Wilson and Dave Grohl’s daughter, Violet as potential front-woman contenders.


4. There’s Def going to be Leppard, and Mötley Crüe

Phil Collen

(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation)

With Joe Elliott and Phil Collen both listed on the original bill, and Rick Savage now added just days before the date, we’re surely in for some Def Leppard. But how’s it going to work? It could be that they take a similar set-up as Liam Gallagher at the Wembley concert and are backed by Foo Fighters with Grohl on drums. Or, could Grohl reprise his role as bassist and we get a Foos/Leppard/Metallica collaboration with Lars on drums? Clearly, those are just two options out of many.

Joining Nikki Sixx on the line-up is Crüe drummer, Tommy Lee. Lee was a big influence on Taylor Hawkins, so we can expect to see some Crüe songs. With Justin Hawkins of The Darkness now set to appear too, we don't think they'll be short of vocal options.

5. Plenty of Chad Smith possibilities

Chad Smith

(Image credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Chad Smith was extremely close to Taylor Hawkins - drum icons with similar tastes and influences, but even closer away from the kit (Taylor was godfather to Chad’s son, Beckett) so it makes perfect sense for Chad to play a big role in the tribute.

At the London event, Foo Fighters played a set of their own songs with Omar Hakim, Josh Freese, Travis Barker, Nandi Bushell and Rufus Taylor on drums. So we’d be surprised if Chad isn’t included in filling-in for Taylor at some point.

Outside of the Foos songs, a quick look at the bill raises some more possibilities. First, Chad is a card-carrying fan of Rush. There was no sign of him in the rehearsal photos, but that doesn’t rule him out entirely. 

Next up is the fact that, just like Dave Grohl, there’s a Whole Lotta Bonham in Chad’s playing. With every member of Them Crooked Vultures on the line-up, another TCV set is a given. But could we see Chad jump on with John Paul Jones for a Zeppelin cover? There’s more than enough guitar muscle in the house, and plenty of vocal options to cover Plant’s range. 

Finally, Wolfgang Van Halen is once again taking part, and given that RHCP have today released a new song dedicated to Eddie Van Halen, it’s another possible pairing. However, if you saw Josh Freese at Wembley, you’ll know there’s no reason to mess with that formula.

6. Last-minute Danny Carey

Most interestingly, Tool's Danny Carey - arguably the best fit to cover Neil Peart's more progressive moments - has just been added to the line-up, which would make for an impressive guest slot. But, as we've seen, the Rush drum stool was filled by Hakim and Grohl in London. 

But we sense that there's more space for prog on the LA line-up. As well as the the Rush camp, Jon Davison - vocalist for Carey's heroes, Yes has also joined the event. Either way, we're expecting some odd-timings and impressive playing from Mr Carey.

7. Lars Ulrich: vintage metal session drummer

Okay, okay…do your worst. For what it’s worth, we think Lars nailed it at Wembley when he played Back in Black and Let There Be Rock with Brian Johnson on vocals. The Acca-Dacca frontman isn’t billed to appear in LA, but there are a fair few of Lars’ contemporaries who are.

Members of Mötley Crüe, Skid Row and KISS are all scheduled to appear, so maybe we could see a hair metal supergroup backed by Foos lead guitarist/hair metal fan/walking jukebox Chris Shiflett with Lars on drums? But we haven’t got to the next guy yet.

8. What about Brad Wilk?

You know Brad Wilk from Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave. But you might also recall that Brad recorded drums for Black Sabbath’s final album, 13. With Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler on-board, there’s a logical potential. But Wilk has also previously collaborated with Josh Homme. 

He's also performed with Grohl’s Sound City Players - a revolving cast of musicians who recorded and toured following Grohl’s Sound City documentary, as well as playing Van Halen's Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love with the Foos before. So, in addition to potentially joining Foo Fighters for a song or two, it’s wide-open as to who Brad could be playing with.

9. Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil will be there

Soundgarden were a huge influence on Taylor Hawkins, and he and Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron were also close friends. Indeed, Taylor took vocal duties on Soundgarden’s The Day I Tried to Live at the Chris Cornell concert, turning out an impressive cover of one of Soundgarden’s most vocally-challenging songs.

Cameron's most recent Instagram post (at the time of writing) pre-empted the official announcement that Cameron and Soundgarden's Kim Thayil will be performing. 

The photo shows a drummer’s view of Taylor’s pink Gretsch USA Custom kit, accompanied by the caption ‘Playing a few songs in honor of my beautiful friend on his beautiful kit!!”. Let’s hope Nikki Sixx doesn’t recognise him as a member of Pearl Jam

10. We can probably expect some more surprises

In an era where keeping things under wraps is more difficult than ever, Foo Fighters have managed to keep the surprises coming. From studio albums to numerous guest slots in the past, there’s every chance of some unexpected guests. 

Particularly given that the LA show is on home turf for the band and a lot of rockstars not listed on the line-up. We’ll have to wait until Tuesday to find out, but one thing is certain - if it matches the Wembley concert, it’s one you won’t want to miss. 

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.