The soundtrack of our lives

September 4, 2022

Instep travels down memory lane to revisit some of the defining moments in recent music history. Who took over music after Whitney Houston passed away, and what is the birthplace of grunge music? Read on to find out…

The soundtrack of our lives

Taylor Hawkins, Chris Cornell, and the troubled history of grunge

Before the tragic and unfortunate death of Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins - that put us in a state of grieving - he was part of a documentary by bandmate Dave Grohl called Sonic Highways. The documentary took the band to eight cities where they recorded their songs for the album of the same name. During the documentary, we learned about Taylor Hawkins’ past and his earlier work before he joined Foo Fighters full time.

Not many people know but Taylor Hawkins joined Alanis Morrissette for her ‘97 Jagged Little Pill tour and was also featured in a number of her music videos.

In addition to Foo Fighters, Taylor worked with Miley Cyrus on her album Plastic Hearts and with Elton John on The Lockdown Sessions in recent years. Two tribute concerts in his name have been announced by Haw-kins’ family and Foo Fighters.

Hawkins was part of at least one supergroup where he was joined by Jane’s Addiction members Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney. The group is called NHC and while Hawkins has passed, the members of NHC are scheduled to release their collaborative album later this year.

Like Foo Fighters’ lead guitarist and singer Dave Grohl, who can play drums as well, Taylor took to singing and
has various collaborations to his credit.

Taylor had at least ten substances in his system at the time of his death and had chest pains but by the time help got to him and performed CPR, he was already dead.

If the drummer-singer’s death was unforeseeable, the same can be said for Chris Cornell who left his addictions behind for more than a decade. However, one misstep led to his death. Before passing away, Chris was also a part of the Sonic Highways documentary and confirmed that the place of grunge rock’s birth in America was Seattle where he was part of Soundgarden.

Nirvana also flew to stardom in the same space, and Eddie Vedder’s Pearl Jam and Chris’ Soundgarden came together to form Temple of the Dog in the memory of a friend who had passed away.

Chris Cornell’s death sent shockwaves in the music industry because of his sober status for so many years before succumbing to anxiety meds and leading to an accidental overdose. Known for his work in films, his funeral was attended by some of the major actors from Hollywood including Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, and Josh Brolin as well as a plethora of music industry insiders.

Clive Davis is often called the father of music and   even has a documentary on Netflix about his musical discoveries. He not only discovered Whitney and put her in the limelight before her untimely death, he also discovered some of our favourite voices including Alicia Keys, Janis Joplin, and Simon and Garfunkel, and   understood how to make a hit record.

The same date of Cornell’s death, a year later, turned out to be the date of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington’s death. It has been said that his last days were filled with a kind of heaviness that was masked by happy moments and no one saw his death coming. That it happened on the same date as Chris Cornell (a year after), does make us think some of it may have been planned by Chester.

Clive Davis, Whitney Houston, and beyond

When Whitney Houston was first discovered by Clive Davis, he enlisted Oprah Winfrey’s help and had her perform on Oprah’s talk show, which made Whitney an artist that urban radio, college radio, and mainstream radio wanted to play. She broke the barrier, which is now being taken forward by the likes of Beyonce.

Clive Davis is often called the father of music and even has a documentary on Netflix about his musical discoveries. He not only discovered Whitney and put her in the limelight before her untimely death, he also discovered some of our favourite voices including Alicia Keys, Janis Joplin, and Simon and Garfunkel, and understood how to make a hit record.

He was behind the re-incarnation of Santana by pairing him with Rob Thomas and the song ‘Smooth’ that won a Grammy. He understood how to make Barry Manilow palatable at a time when Barry didn’t know how to do it himself. And his Grammy party, every year, is noted as bigger than the actual Grammys!

At a time when record labels were looking for hit singles but no one knew how to do it, Clive came along and helped artists in a way in which they didn’t feel exploited while giving music its biggest hits and artists to date.

He was supportive of Bruce Springsteen in his early days, and he told Steven Tyler how he would become a big artist one day. Through his position as record label head at Colombia before founding his own label, Arista Records, he figured out how to create a market for Bay City Rollers, Patti Smith, Aretha Franklin, Sarah McLachlan, Ace of Base, Usher, TLC, and many more.

The greatest love song of all-time, ‘I Will Always Love You’ became a part of Whitney’s film with Kevin Costner called The Bodyguard. It was Clive who convinced Kevin that there was a need for music in the film. And no, ‘My Heart Will Go On’ is no match for ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Whitney even though the song was originally written by Dolly Parton but never found considerable success when Parton had sung it.

Of all the people he worked with, he was closest to Whitney Houston like a father figure and was horrified to see her health deteriorating prior to her death.

It was Clive Davis who told a young Gwen Stefani that No Doubt would go big by 1997 and with the song ‘Don’t Speak’ releasing in 1997, they became one of music’s biggest names. And even when Gwen went solo for a series of albums, her success didn’t diminish.

Clive Davis never recovered from Whitney’s death but he continued to recognize stars in musicians and made those artists go from anonymity to Billboard charts. Even P. Diddy and Jimmy Iovine (who produced artists like Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith before co-founding Interscope Records and saying adios to his reputation as engineer and producer) confess that Clive’s ability to see a pop hit was brilliant.

Speaking of Jimmy Iovine, he joined Dr. Dre to form Beats, which they sold to Apple for over a billion, making Andre (Dr. Dre) the first African-American billionaire to rise out of music.

The soundtrack of our lives