Wolfgang Van Halen pays tribute to the late Taylor Hawkins with emotional cover of Foo Fighters’ My Hero

Wolfgang Van Halen
(Image credit: Scott Legato/Getty Images)

Wolfgang Van Halen’s Mammoth WVH performed a cover of Foo Fighters’ My Hero during their show at Boston's Big Night Live over the weekend (March 26) as a tribute to the latter band’s late drummer Taylor Hawkins, who passed away Friday, March 25, at the age of 50.

The gig took place as part of Mammoth WVH’s Young Guns tour, with the rock outfit including a faithful rendition of My Hero as the penultimate song of their set.

According to Van Halen, it was a last minute inclusion to the running order, with the multi-instrumentalist revealing the band had learned and rehearsed the song on the morning of the show.

Speaking to the crowd prior to the performance, Van Halen said, “We lost somebody really important yesterday. And he was a hero to me, and a hero to all of us, and a hero to countless people out there. So, we feel this is necessary.

“We worked this out this morning,” he continued, “so please excuse any rough edges, but we just had to fucking do this.”

Van Halen, who had his sunburst EVH SA-126 model over his shoulder, began the cover by wielding a drumstick and aiding Mammoth WVH drummer Garrett Whitlock with the track’s pumping opening beat – a nod to Hawkins’ generational presence behind the kit.

He then returned to the microphone and, with the help of fellow guitarist Frank Sidoris, made his way through the track’s immensely infectious guitar parts, with Whitlock continuing to honor Hawkins’ charging drum line.

It was a moving rendition, one filled with emotive vocals and emotionally charged performances from the entire band, with Van Halen concluding the outro by saying, “Rest in peace Taylor. We love you.”

Hawkins’ death was confirmed over the weekend via a statement posted to the Foo Fighters’ social media. It read: “The Foo Fighters family is devastated by the tragic and untimely loss of our beloved Taylor Hawkins. 

“His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever. Our hearts go out to his wife, children and family, and we ask that their privacy be treated with the utmost respect in this unimaginably difficult time.”

In the wake of his passing, musicians have flocked to social media to pay their respects to the drummer, who was part of the Foo Fighters lineup from 1997 all the way up until his death.

Tom Morello, Brian May, John Mayer and Ozzy Osbourne are among those who have paid tributes to Hawkins in the wake of his death, with Mayer calling him “a brilliant musician, sweetheart, and an inspiration to millions of people – many of whom took up drumming because of him."

Slash also dedicated a live rendition of his song Starlight to Hawkins during a recent performance with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, and told those in attendance, “First of all, he was a great fucking guy. A fucking sweetheart. He was a really good friend and a kickass drummer.

“[We’re] completely crushed that we’ve lost him," he added. "So we wanna do a song tonight and dedicate it to him. So we’re gonna play something we haven’t played actually on this whole tour, but we’re going to do it tonight.”

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.