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Taylor Hawkins made a 9-year-old’s dreams come true just three days before he died.
Emma Sofía and her father Julio Peralta had tickets to see the Foo Fighters at Paraguay’s Asunciónico music festival March 22. The patriarch said that the young child, an aspiring musician, was eager to get up close with the celebrated drummer.
“We are a musical family,” Peralta told Fox News Digital. “She started listening to music from the cradle. She started playing the piano, but then at age seven, she discovered her love of drums. That has become her instrument. During the lockdown, we started a social media account for her where she could sing and play the drums. It was our way to stay connected with family and friends.
“She instantly fell in love with Nirvana,” Peralta added. “That’s when we told her the drummer from Nirvana was the lead singer of Foo Fighters. She became curious and started listening to the Foo Fighters. She fell in love with the band. And Taylor Hawkins instantly became an inspiration for her.”
Peralta said Emma Sofía was excited to learn that her favorite band was in her hometown. But after scoring tickets, the event was canceled due to severe weather conditions. However, Peralta said his daughter didn’t want to miss out on her chance to see the band.
“At first, we were disappointed and went home,” he recalled. “But then, some friends called us and said that the Foo Fighters were staying at the Sheraton hotel, which is right near our house. We decided to head there, hoping maybe we’ll see the band. And of course, she brought her drum kit. And then, she started playing outside the hotel.”
Emma Sofía pounded on the drums, playing along to singalongs of the band’s song “The Pretender,” as well as Nirvana’s “In Bloom” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” As Emma Sofía played, fans began cheering her on and chanting Hawkins’ name.
The impromptu jam session persisted, and the 50-year-old eventually emerged downstairs to check it out for himself. He was on the lookout for the persistent percussionist.
“I saw he was coming out, so I asked her to stop playing, but of course, she didn’t listen,” said Peralta. “She just played harder. And I don’t know how, but some people helped her get over the barrier. She was then face to face with him.
The star and the awestruck apprentice took a smiling selfie that went viral. Peralta captioned the photo “Dreams come true” on Twitter.
“She was just in shock, just speechless,” said Peralta. “She was so happy. I remember Taylor promised the crowd that they would come back, that he was sorry the show was canceled. He seemed very healthy, very energetic and nice.”
“It was just a magical moment,” he continued. “As a parent, I knew how hard my daughter worked in those music videos. She learned the songs and the lyrics. The concert was a big deal for her, and she was so disappointed when it was canceled. Later, she told us that the day was about to become the worst day of her life and suddenly, it was the best day of her life.”
Tragedy struck three days later. The best friend of Foo Fighters Dave Grohl died March 25 during the band’s South American tour.
There were few immediate details on how Hawkins died, although the band said in a statement that his death was a “tragic and untimely loss.”
Colombia’s Prosecutor’s Office released a statement March 26 saying toxicological tests on urine from Hawkins’ body preliminarily found 10 psychoactive substances and medicines, including marijuana, opioids, tricyclic antidepressants and benzodiazepines. It did not provide a cause of death and investigations are continuing.
Foo Fighters had been scheduled to play at a festival in Bogota, Colombia. Hawkins’ final concert was at another festival in San Isidro, Argentina.
The Bogota municipal government stated on March 26 that the city’s emergency center had received a report of a patient with “chest pain” and sent an ambulance, though a private ambulance had already arrived at the hotel in northern Bogota.
Health workers tried to revive him but were unable to do so.
“I looked at my phone and saw the news,” said Peralta. “I couldn’t believe it. I was just in shock. And, of course, [my daughter] was upset. She didn’t talk much. But she did tell us that she was struggling. She was sad that he was gone, but also happy that she had her chance to meet him. But she felt the Foo Fighters would never be the same because Taylor is irreplaceable.”
Today, Peralta said Emma Sofía is doing “much better” and is drumming again when she’s not attending school. The family continues to post videos on her behalf, and they have been inundated with offers “to play everywhere.”
He hopes that Hawkins will be remembered as an inspiration for budding artists, not for how he died.
“The music is a joy,” said Peralta. “And people should embrace that.”
After Grohl, Hawkins was the most recognizable member of the group, appearing alongside the lead singer in interviews and playing prominent, usually comic, roles in the band’s memorable videos and their recent horror-comedy film, “Studio 666.”
Hawkins was Alanis Morissette’s touring drummer when he joined Foo Fighters in 1997. He played on the band’s biggest albums, including “One by One” and “In Your Honor,” and on hit singles like “Best of You.”
In Grohl’s 2021 book, “The Storyteller,” the 53-year-old called Hawkins his “brother from another mother, my best friend, a man for whom I would take a bullet.”
“Upon first meeting, our bond was immediate, and we grew closer with every day, every song, every note that we ever played together,” Grohl wrote. “We are absolutely meant to be, and I am grateful that we found each other in this lifetime.”
It’s the second time Grohl has experienced the death of a close bandmate. Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana when Kurt Cobain died in 1994 at age 27.
Born Oliver Taylor Hawkins in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1972, Hawkins was raised in Laguna Beach, California. He played in the small Southern California band Sylvia before landing his first major gig as a drummer for Canadian singer Sass Jordan.
He and Grohl met backstage at a show when Hawkins was still with Morissette. Grohl’s band would have an opening soon after when then-drummer William Goldsmith left. Grohl called Hawkins, who was a huge Foo Fighters fan, and immediately accepted.
“I am not afraid to say that our chance meeting was a kind of love at first sight, igniting a musical ‘twin flame’ that still burns to this day,” Grohl wrote in his book. “Together, we have become an unstoppable duo, onstage and off, in pursuit of any and all adventure we can find.”
Hawkins first appeared with the band in the 1997 video for Foo Fighters’ most popular song, “Everlong,” although he had yet to join the group when the song was recorded. He would, however, go on to pound out epic versions of it hundreds of times as the climax of Foo Fighters’ concerts.
He also drummed and sang for the side project trio Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders. They released an album, “Get the Money,” in 2006.
“His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever,” said a message on the band’s official Twitter account. “Our hearts go out to his wife, children and family.”
Hawkins is survived by his wife Alison and their three children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.