Former Police drummer Stewart Copeland performed at the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert in London on Saturday, playing a pair of tunes from his old band with help from several other rockers.
After receiving a rousing welcome from the crowd, Copeland took his seat behind the drums. Accompanied by Foo Fighters — with Dave Grohl on guitar and vocals — the group first rocked through a rendition of the Police’s 1978 single “Next to You.” From there, Supergrass singer Gaz Coombes joined the ensemble, delivering another Police classic: “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”
Copeland was a lifelong influence on Hawkins, who recalled during a 2019 interview that he received a copy of the band’s Zenyatta Mondatta album from his brother in 1982. It came with a mission statement. “If you want to be good, you have to play it like this guy,” his sibling advised.
Hawkins took the advice to heart and scrounged to put together a kit piecemeal, bit by bit. He smiled, recalling how he ordered cymbals out of the Sears catalog as he moved close to completing his setup. Ultimately, it was a formative time. As he shared later in the interview, he grew to consider Copeland and Queen drummer Roger Taylor his two biggest influences.
The pair would later meet in 2005, and it was a heady experience as Copeland recalled in a conversation with Variety following the passing of his friend. “The first time I met [Foo Fighters] in 2005, they called out of the blue and invited me onto their jet to fly to San Francisco, do a song with them at a show and then do a runner over to New York, where they did 24 hours straight on MTV,” he remembered. “That’s where I got to know the guys. Jesus Christ! That is some stamina for those youngsters. It was good fun.”
The initial encounter came prior to the eventual Police reunion trek that happened in 2007. Copeland admitted he hadn’t been woodshedding when the Foos approached him. “I hadn’t seen my drums in a long time, but I only had to get through one song, and they knew it.” Foo Fighters would eventually open for the Police during the Los Angeles stop of their reunion tour.
In Hawkins, Copeland found a kindred spirit, which led to a friendship that spanned nearly 20 years.”We enjoyed each other’s company. Much more than guitarists do,” he told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “You would think we would be more competitive, because there’s only one drum set on stage and you can have any number of amps. But for some reason we like extra rhythm clattering around us.”
Though the late drummer was a Copeland acolyte, the drum legend was quick to note that Hawkins definitely forged his own path. “The first time I heard of the Foo Fighters was something like, ‘Hey, there’s this band out there selling a gazillion records, and the drummer says it’s all your shit,'” he told Variety. “So I checked it out, and I didn’t hear any of my stuff. I heard his stuff. Maybe that might have been the source of his inspiration, but he certainly did his own thing with it.“
Hawkins will be honored at a second tribute concert in Los Angeles on Sept. 27.
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