Red Hot Chili Peppers delivered an emotional headlining set at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Sunday, May 1st. The California funk-rockers were added to the lineup three weeks ago to fill the void left by the sudden passing of their friend and contemporary, drummer Taylor Hawkins, and the subsequent cancellation of all scheduled Foo Fighters performances.
Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters have crossed paths frequently throughout their careers beginning with RHCP’s 1999 Californication tour, on which Foo Fighters served as support. Hawkins and Chilli Peppers drummer Chad Smith formed a particularly close bond over the years. A video posted to Instagram by Smith in the wake of Hawkins’ death provides a glimpse into the loving friendship shared by the two drummers.
View this post on Instagram
Ahead of the action at Jazz Fest, Smith told Billboard that the Chili Peppers plan to bring Hawkins’ widow, Alison Hawkins, with them to New Orleans for Jazz Fest as their honored guest. “We’re taking Alison, his wife, with us and it’s going to be a celebration,” Smith said. “That’s what she wants. She doesn’t want it to be anything other than, ‘Let’s celebrate music, let’s celebrate our friends, let’s celebrate Taylor. This is what he would want and he would be very happy that you guys are playing and he would want it be nothing but a positive experience.’ So we’re going to do all that and she’s going to be part of that and I’m very honored that we can do that with her. … We’re going to play our hearts out.”
As Smith added to Billboard, “His essence of his creative energy is out in another universe somewhere and he was able to express that here in his short life,” Smith says. “Wherever he is, I feel strongly and believe that he is doing his Taylor Hawkins as only he can. He’s doing that somewhere else and giving that love and life to everybody wherever he is now that he did here. So that gives me a little bit of comfort, but I miss the f— out of him.”
Following a pause after Jazz Fest, Red Hot Chili Peppers will hit the road in earnest in June for a world tour that will keep them on the road through late September. For a full list of upcoming tour dates, head here.
[UPDATE 5/2/22]: When RHCP took the main Festival Stage on Sunday at Jazz Fest, the resonant head of Chad Smith’s bass drum was emblazoned with the name “Taylor” and an outline of a hawk, making sure that his fallen friend was present in spirit in New Orleans.
At the end of the set, Smith took a moment to address the crowd. “Foo Fighters were supposed to play here tonight,” he explained. “We love the Foo Fighters and we love our brother Taylor Hawkins, so this means a lot to us to play for them, the guys in the band are here. They’re supporting. Taylor’s wife, Alison, is here, their family. It’s a beautiful thing… We love them. We love Taylor. So, on three I wanna hear everybody, ‘We love Taylor!’” The audience repeated the incantation with genuine emotion. Watch the video and check out photos of the performance here.
Live For Live Music has plenty in store for any music fan in New Orleans during Jazz Fest with Fest by Nite, a full series of concerts, festivals, and events around the city throughout the duration of the two Jazz Fest weekends and the “daze between.” Check out the full list below and head here for ticketing details.