Arts & Entertainment

Three local rock legends pass away

Remembering PNW musicians, from surf to grunge.

The Year of the Tiger has been tough on the music world. So far this year, we’ve lost Ronnie Spector, Meat Loaf and Snootie Wild, among others. Three of the losses have links to Tacoma: Taylor Hawkins, Mark Lanegan and Don Wilson.

Taylor Hawkins:

Hawkins, the Foo Fighters drummer, shocked the world with an untimely death last week at the age of 50. About to perform at a festival in Columbia, Hawkins played for Dave Grohl’s second-most famous band since 1997. Hawkins landed the Foo Fighters’ gig after meeting the band on an Alanis Morissette tour, the big break in his career. In the HBO documentary “Jagged,” Hawkins charmingly tells the tale of how he left the Canadian singer’s band to join up with Grohl. In a charismatic display of self-work and apology, Hawkins also shares tour stories of bad-boy misogyny that was the antithesis of Morissette’s strong-girl image.

Tacoma connection: Hawkins was not the first Foo Fighters’ drummer; that honor belongs to Tacoma’s own William Goldsmith, who previously played in Sunny Day Real Estate – a darling of the ‘90s Northwest scene. You can catch Goldsmith in his latest iteration, Assertion, which also features Tacoma musicians Justin Taminga and Rafe Wadleigh.

Mark Lanegan:

Lanegan was the lead singer of influential grunge-era band Screaming Trees. Formed in Ellensburg, Wash. in 1984, the band had indie success on SST and Sub Pop labels. It was Lanegan’s husky vocal tone that set the band apart. Known best for  “Nearly Lost You,” the neo-psychedelic hit pushed Screaming Trees into MTV rotation. Lanegan also worked with Queens of the Stone Age, Isobel Cambpell (Belle and Sebastian), Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs), Moby, Melissa auf der Maur (Hole, The Smashing Pumpkins) and Tacoma’s Neko Case. Lanegan died February 22 at age 57. 

Tacoma connection: Lanegan sang on Neko Case’s “Curse of the I-5 Corridor” – a song with endless references to our hometown. Check out the risque video on YouTube. Lanegan also worked with legendary producer Steve Fisk, who recently defected from Seattle, saying that Tacoma is “like how Seattle was in the ‘90s.” 

Don Wilson:

One of the biggest Tacoma rock stars died in January, Don Wilson, the co-founder and rhythm guitarist of The Ventures. Wilson, 88, was the last surviving member of the classic line-up that recorded eponymous ‘60s hits including “Walk Don’t Run” and  “Hawaii Five-O.”  The Ventures, who were Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, were formed in Tacoma in 1958. They popularized surf guitar instrumentals, shaping the genre and influencing countless bands like Blondie, The Go-Go’s and George Harrison. With over 100 million albums sold worldwide, Tacoma’s Ventures hold the record for the best- selling instrumental rock group of all time.

Tacoma connection:  The Tacoma connections continue for The Ventures, most recently with Tacoma filmmaker Issac Olsen’s “Walk Don’t Run” documentary.  The film is being kick-started by brothers Justin and Rob Peterson, also known for Hilltop’s fantastic 1111 Bar and music venue The Valley.