Over the years Wadebridge’s Dean Bowdery has met more rock stars than many of us have had hot dinners, but it was the members of the Foo Fighters who made the biggest impression which is why he is devastated by the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins, a man he describes as an “absolute sweetheart”. Taylor, who was found dead in his hotel room in Colombia on Friday, spent hours entertaining Dean’s son and his mate backstage before the Foo Fighters headlined Reading Festival; something the Cornish businessman will never forget.
Dean runs Cornwall-based Protection Racket, a globally renowned company which makes drums cases and touring luggage, and first met Taylor at NAMM, America’s largest music trade show, via a mutual friend. “We got talking about bands and drums and he had several cases from us over the years. The first time I properly met him was when we were hanging out at Reading in 2005 and it was unforgettable,” Dean continued.
“My boy Charlie [also known as Chops] was wearing a ‘Taylor Hawkins is God’ badge. Taylor spotted and collared Chops and swapped it for a pair of drumsticks! Chops and his best mate Curt literally spent the afternoon in the Foos’ dressing rooms. I spoke to Dave Grohl to say ‘look if they are being a pain, getting in the way, just chuck them out’. Dave said ‘no, please leave them, I’m getting them to wind Taylor up’. He was loving it!”
“Chops and Curt just loved it and were spoilt rotten. They loved Taylor who entertained and played with them. I remember talking to a security guard I knew who was always posted on the headliners’ dressing rooms and she said that in 20 years of working that spot the Foos were without a doubt the kindest, most humble of bands she looked after and that Taylor was an absolute sweetheart who had time for everyone.
“She was right – they are the nicest people you could ever meet. Like Dave Grohl, Taylor was gracious, kind and humble. They are one of the biggest bands in the world, but they are so accommodating and down to earth. There’s no airs and graces.”
Dean met Taylor around ten times over the years – at NAMM, festivals and gigs. “He always remembered me from that first meeting in America and he always remembered playing with Charlie before they went on stage at Reading. He was one of the loveliest, funniest guys I’ve met in the music industry. Without a shadow of doubt one of the finest drummers of our generation. If you’re a Foos fan it really feels like you’ve lost a mate and that’s testament to his humble everyman nature.”
The last time Dean met Taylor was when the Foo Fighters played a tiny gig at the Cheese & Grain in Frome before they headlined Glastonbury. Dave Grohl put Dean and his wife Tracey on the guestlist and they drove from Cornwall in time to chat to Taylor and the rest of the band before the concert.
Dean added: “There was a nice connection for me – Taylor was a massive Queen and Roger Taylor fan and knew Roger’s son Rufus who plays with The Darkness. Both Roger and Rufus have had drum cases from us, so Taylor was blown away by that Cornish connection.”
Protection Racket is now so successful it sells 100,000 cases a year, which are made in China, and is now the No.1 drum case designer in the UK, outselling their rivals by three to one. They are also No.1 in Japan and a big seller across Europe and the States. Clients include Ronnie Vannucci (The Killers), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys), Will Champion (Coldplay), Andy Burrows of Razorlight fame, Adele’s drummer Ash Soan, Aynsley Dunbar and Matt Chamberlain (who both played with David Bowie), Clem Burke (Blondie), Ben Johnston (Biffy Clyro), Sheila E (Prince), Steve Sidelnyk (Madonna) and Mike Joyce (The Smiths).
Throw in drummers for Nine Inch Nails, Beastie Boys, Paul McCartney, Jack Johnston, Anthrax, Simple Minds, Slipknot, Kasabian, The Cult, Van Morrison, Massive Attack, Iggy Pop, Bloc Party and Jamiroquai and you have a lot of world-class musicians (more than 600, in fact) reliant on Dean’s cases.