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The Death Of Taylor Hawkins And The Irresponsible Press

Taylor Hawkins
Taylor Hawkins

The death of Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins is certainly a tragedy for his family, bandmates, and fans all over the world. However, the press didn’t help when they prematurely announced that he had died of a drug overdose. The NY Post and The Daily Beast had “overdose” in their headlines just a few hours after he died, revealing that a preliminary toxicology report had found “10 different substances, including THC (marijuana), tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and opioids.” The Daily Beast even wrote that “Semana magazine reports that local authorities confirmed the rocker “died from an overdose of heroin mixed with antidepressants and benzodiazepines.” The headline has slightly changed since Saturday – they have removed “overdose” – while they are still linking his death to the drugs found in his system.

First, don’t they know that it takes in general 4 to 6 weeks to get a toxicology report? At least this is the case in the US and, unless they are much faster in Columbia, a preliminary test, done on urine, should not be a final verdict and used with a lot of caution. It’s especially premature to declare he died from a heroin overdose when we don’t know the origin of the opioids he had in his system. Many painkillers will be detected in urine as opioids, while the rest of the drugs found in Hawkins’s system look like prescribed antidepressants and tranquilizers (besides THC which obviously comes from marijuana). It was often reported that Hawkins suffered from stage anxiety, which would explain the anxiety medication.

Hawkins appeared to be a great physical shape, but the energy he was displaying on stage night after night doesn’t exclude sore joints and muscles after a 3-hour show, especially at 50… so it’s not a stretch to think he could have been prescribed painkillers. Furthermore, no doses could have been determined from this preliminary analysis, Hawkins could have been prescribed different drugs by his doctor and all these substances could all have been present at therapeutic levels in his system. So using “overdose” in a headline is purely speculative and honestly careless as long as we don’t have all the details.

I am not saying Hawkins didn’t die of an overdose, but so far, we don’t know what happened and there is a big difference between scoring street heroin for a high in a hotel room (as the headlines implied) and taking a bunch of prescribed meds. The fact that the Foo Fighters were about to get on stage makes me suspicious of a heroin overdose, as this is not a drug people would take before a show.

And there’s also something else: according to several sources, his heart was very big? “Forensic experts found during an examination that Hawkins’ heart weighed “at least 600 grams,” which is double the size of 300 to 350 grams of an average adult male his age.” Again, it’s a bit suspicious that the results of the autopsy report would have already surfaced barely a day after he died – this article was published on Sunday.

In a very recent interview with Rolling Stone, Hawkins discussed his health and said that his doctor mentioned his heart: “you’re in amazing shape. Your heart’s big because you exercise a lot. It’s like a runner’s heart.” How ironic if he died of a heart attack. There are two possibilities there, either Hawkins’s heart was really strong, with thick walls and large ventricles, or his heart was enlarged, in an abnormal manner, which is generally a sign of heart disease. We’ll probably learn more with the autopsy.

Since he was complaining of chest pain just before he died, Taylor Hawkins very probably died of a heart attack, but the cause of death has not been established yet, and for the press to write such headlines was totally irresponsible and insensible.

Of course, a rocker dying of a heroin overdose in a hotel room has become such a big part of the rock & roll mythology that the cliché will get many more click baits than an honest headline admitting a lack of information.

6 Comments

  1. Tom on March 29, 2022 at 11:04 pm

    Thank you

  2. Al on April 1, 2022 at 8:24 am

    Yes! Total speculation, totally careless. Thank you for writing this article

    • Sonyia on April 4, 2022 at 10:43 pm

      This is exactly what I’ve been saying!! Thank you!!

  3. Laura William on April 2, 2022 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have been appalled by the irresponsibility of the press on this. I agree 100% and it was a relief for me to read Someone who was saying what I have been saying, which is that it’s entirely possible that these were therapeutic levels of prescriptions. It totally makes sense. Exactly what you said.

    A friend of mine who was 54 and very fit suddenly died when he went in his sleep into atrial fibrillation. It turned out he had a very large heart and that was part of the cause.

    The fact that Taylor Hawkins sought help for the chest pains tells us he wanted to live and and was alarmed.

    What a very sad outcome for this beautiful man. My heart goes out to his family and the band and his friends.

    The least the media can do is to find some decency and stop sensationalizing at his expense and at his family’s expense.

    Thank you for this article which lays out a very plausible set of circumstances. I believe in my heart that we will find out it was a heart attack and these were just his prescriptions. And maybe the altitude exacerbated stuff.

    Anyway, I was relieved to read something sane at last.

  4. Greg on April 8, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    Nice article very well executed and placing blame to the media news

  5. Jude Elliot on May 14, 2022 at 3:27 am

    I am glad you wrote this. There are many reasons why people may have drugs in their systems. A few years ago if it were me you could have found citilopram, codeine, sumatriptan, diclofenac. It didn’t mean I was a druggie – just that I suffered from clinical depression, got migraines, and had sore shoulders! The media don’t give the benefit of the doubt – just jump right in and don’t think about the effect their words can have on family and friends. I also lost my partner when he was 52 to a massive heart attack and because no one was around an autopsy was performed. He has an enlarged heart. Possibly for years. But because he was also a keen and competitive cyclist on the track, on the road and mountain bike plus an orienteer and rogainer, and he carried no fat, who would ever have thought to check out his heart. There was evidence from the autopsy he was only working on 80% of his heart too as part was scarred from a previous attack he knew nothing about. Physically, he and Taylor looked similar in size and fitness. Sometimes these things just happen tragically. It is sad that the media try to sensationalize everything. A bit of empathy would go a long way.

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