Last weekend’s first of two all-star tributes to late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins at London’s Wembley Stadium had a ton of endearing and also surprising moments. One of the biggest was Wolfgang Van Halen leading covers of VH classics, “On Fire” and “Hot For Teacher” in very rare form, joined by Dave Grohl on bass, Josh Freese on drums and Justin Hawkins on vocals.
But it almost didn’t come to be. As The Darkness singer details in a new vlog post for his “Justin Hawkins Rides Again” series on September 7, he says he almost bailed on the idea. Justin answers a fan’s question about which collaboration he was most nervous about during the epic tribute, and he actually had a couple answers.
One was the part with rock legends Queen, in which the singer guested on “Under Pressure” (a song Taylor loved to cover live during Foo Fighters sets). But the other was the Van Halen covers section, which Justin says he almost gave up on completely.
“When Dave [Grohl] initially called me, he was talking about Van Halen and he told me which songs I’d be doing and he told me what the ensemble for the Van Halen section would be, which is Dave Grohl on bass, Josh Freese on drums, Wolfgang Van Halen on guitar and I was like, ‘Fuck, that’s going to be fucking amazing. There’s no way I’m turning that down.’”
The singer also had an idea for a replacement, as he shared, “I actually thought it might be good to ask my friend Michael Starr who sings with Steel Panther to do those ones because he’s really great at doing the David Lee Roth vocal style.”
But The Darkness frontman eventually “talked himself into doing it,” adding he thought it would be “a great chance to reinterpret those songs in my own style.” To do so, Justin said he had to re-familiarize himself with “Hot For Teacher” and had to learn “On Fire” (since mostly listened to 1984, and was not as familiar with the band’s earlier records).
Justin also appeared on several other big numbers in the tribute concert (as seen on Setlist.fm), including a number of Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders songs as well as AC/DC’s “Back In Black” in which he grabbed he mic from Brian Johnson.
The second and final tribute concert in memory of Taylor Hawkins will take place September 27 in Los Angeles, though Justin Hawkins as of now is not on that lineup of talent.
Hear Justin Hawkins talk behind-the-scenes moments of the Taylor Hawkins Tribute
See Justin Hawkins nail the Van Halen covers as part of the Taylor Hawkins tribute
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