One thing about Taylor Hawkins: That guy loved rock ‘n’ roll. The Foo Fighters drummer died suddenly last month at the age of 50, and in the wake of his passing, one of the videos that immediately circulated was a clip of Hawkins singing Queen’s “Somebody To Love” at Lollapalooza Chile, in what would turn out to be his final set with Foo Fighters. Like so many other Hawkins performances, that one just radiated joy. After Hawkins’ death, other rock titans like Paul McCartney and Liam Gallagher paid tribute. And now, the blues-rock great Edgar Winter has shared a song that he recorded with Hawkins shortly before Hawkins’ death.
Edgar Winter has recently been working on the album Brother Johnny. It’s a tribute to Johnny Winter, Edgar’s late brother, who died in 2014 at the age of 70. On the LP, Edgar teams up with guests like Ringo Starr, Billy Gibbons, and Michael McDonald to play his brother’s songs. Edgar didn’t know Taylor Hawkins before recording a version of Johnny’s 1970 hard rocker “Guess I’ll Go Away,” but producer Ross Hogarth suggested Hawkins as a collaborator, and Hawkins came in to sing on the song. On his website, Edgar wrote about working with Hawkins:
I had only just met Taylor, and barely got to know him, but I was so impressed by his sincerity, positive energy, and pure enthusiasm. He had a unique spontaneous style different from anyone I’ve ever worked with before. I can be very opinionated — but as soon as heard what he was doing, I knew it was best to step back, stay out of the way, and let him do his thing. That session was an experience I will never forget.
When I tried to open a business discussion, he simply would not hear of it. He said — I don’t want ANYTHING for doing this, I just want’a get out there and Rock. And Rock HE DID! I don’t know if it was out of respect for Johnny, a desire to help me in what I was doing, compassion for the nature of the project, or his friendship with Ross. Most probably all these things — but whatever it was, he gave it His ALL!
I listened to it last night, and couldn’t help but cry. It’s a song about the lure of sex, the danger of drugs, and the Love of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Johnny wrote it around the time of his first rehab, and it expresses feelings almost everyone I know has been through in one way or another. I would guess (like most all musicians) Taylor couldn’t help but identify with it. All I know is he put his whole heart and soul into it, and I am so sad that I never found a way to thank him properly as he so deeply and profoundly deserved.
Below, listen to Edgar Winter and Taylor Hawkins’ new version of “Guess I’ll Go Away,” as well as the original Johnny Winter recording:
Edgar Winters’ album Brother Johnny is out now on Quarto Valley Records.