Living From the Heart: My Taylor Hawkins Story

taylor hawkins dave grohl foo fighters

Some moments in life are unforgettable. This is one of mine.

Without going into the weird and wonderful story of how it happened (another day perhaps) I’ll start at the peak moment. It was a Tuesday in May 2008. I had been waiting in the bowels of the Sydney Arena for almost 3 hours with a random assortment of people, nervous to even leave to go to the toilet in case I missed it.

That afternoon, after a serious wardrobe crisis and ‘no-idea-what-to-wear-to-meet-Dave’ moment, I’d left work early to drive across Sydney, park in a giant empty car park, and make my way to meet the record company representative as planned.

Here we are outside before the meetup

Along with a motley crew of prize winners, including a young boy and his father who were there via the Make-A-Wish Foundation, we finally got the call that the Foo Fighters were ready to meet us. Lucky you have a ‘make-a-wish’ kid with you, they said, otherwise Dave normally wouldn’t come… jaded much?

We wound around, and around, through long-vacant spaces and sparse white corridors, like rabbit warrens to nowhere, until at last we entered a small room, about 3 metres square, empty except for a fold-up table. There were no windows. It was airless and super weird.

I quickly realised that my fantasies of hanging out with Dave and the band had been misguided.

This was purely contractual meet-and-greet territory. Record company photographer at the ready to capture the moment for promotional purposes, put your posters on the table for signing please…. And that’s it. NO charis. NO drinks. Just weird quiet space backstage at the arena.

They walk in.

Sidenote: with most of the famous people I’ve met in my life (and there have been a few, not to boast, just factual, because I worked in the film industry and had lots of arty/muso friends) I’ve been able to just be myself. Even when they have filled a room with their incredible energy (Nelson Mandela) or given me one of the best hugs I’ve ever had (Samual L Jackson) I’ve still kept my cool. They’re just people right?

Well, NOT THIS TIME. This time I talked, nervously and constantly. Even in the photo here, my mouth is slightly open because I’m arm-to-arm with Dave and I just cannot shut up.

It’s kind of awkward

Something in my brain tripped a wire after the huge build-up of it all and I kinda just went STRANGE. I’ve never been more sure that I’m a nervous talker than then.

L-R Taylor Hawkins, Dave Grohl, and me emulating the stances on the cover image for the film “The Usual Suspects” (as Dave suggested)

Taylor was feeling a little unwell, as you can see in the picture. So, even though I’d planned to give it to Dave, I gave the broach I had brought in as a gift to him instead. It said “Everyone Pretend to be Normal” in black text on a yellow background, a promotional gift from the film ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. He put it on straight away and was gracious and kind despite feeling unwell and about to go on stage for 3 hours. You can see it in the photos I was later sent by the record company.

Taylor was the ultimate gentleman all the way through the meet and greet. He listened intently. He signed my poster (which I still have). He was all heart.


Cut to 2022

The tragic and untimely death of Taylor Hawkins in Bogotā in March, 2022 has left more questions than answers. In media reports the coroner apparently weighed Taylor’s heart to be 600grams. The usual size of a heart is 300-350grams. His heart was literally too big.

We may never know why that happened, or what led to this health crisis in the lead-up to his passing. Frankly, it doesn’t even matter. What is so sad is that this warm and generous man, who was at the top of his game, an incredible drummer, songwriter, friend, father and husband, passed away aged 50, far too soon.

He gave so much in all of his performances.

I felt deeply moved whilst viewing this footage (below) of him at the final concert he played in Argentina. In it, you can see without a shadow of a doubt how much he gave to his performances and his immense skill as a drummer.

Watching it got me thinking, am I living with all of my heart in everything I do?

Short answer, no.

Certainly, I’m getting more and more of my heart involved. When I reflect on the way that Hawkins lit up that non-descript windowless room, even when he was unwell, even in the space of about 20 minutes, I am heartened to be warm, loving and humble, just as he seemed to be.

Little by little, with mindfulness practices, energy replenishment habits and resilience-building I’m getting there. We’re always ‘getting there’ or becoming the way we would aspire to become I guess.

The way I see it, if that’s the legacy of Taylor Hawkins in my personal story, well that’s pretty awesome. I’m grateful that one of my idols existed for so many years doing exactly what he loved.

He was an inspiration and his memory lives on.

Rest in peace dear Taylor, one of the good ones for sure.

alena turley | creator, educator, martial artist
alena turley | creator, educator, martial artist

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