“I was partying in London one night, and I mistakenly did something and it changed everything.” That’s how Taylor described the incident in 2001 when he suffered a heroin overdose in London that left him in a coma for two weeks.
“I believed the bullshit myth of live hard and fast, die young,” he reflected with Kerrang! writer Simon Young during a career-spanning interview in October 2019. “I’m not here to preach about not doing drugs, because I loved doing drugs, but I just got out of control for a while and it almost got me.” Indeed, despite his near-death experience terrifying him into swapping mad nights for mountain biking, bad habits were something he could laugh at, as Simon can attest.
Back in November 2002, a year after Taylor’s overdose, Simon was K! News Editor and Foo Fighters were scheduled to play the aforementioned Newcastle show. The decision was made to put the band on the cover of the magazine’s Christmas issue and Simon was promptly commissioned for the job. He eagerly agreed; with Cave In supporting the Foos, this was a chance to see two of his favourite bands.
What’s more, Simon’s mum and stepdad lived less than 10 miles away. It was therefore decided that hosting a Christmas dinner in this homely setting was just what the cover shoot needed. So Simon’s mum, Margaret, gamely prepared a full dinner with all the trimmings, while ensuring her house was immaculate for her famous guests.
Unfortunately, tight scheduling meant the band wouldn’t have the time to make the detour, so Simon and Margaret promptly packed up and headed to the venue, with the aim of recreating the scene in the venue’s backstage area. Upon arrival, the band greeted the dinner-carrying duo with a warmth exceeding that of the foil-wrapped food. “They clearly appreciated the time and effort my mum had spent making it all,” recalls Simon. “And they had a lot of questions, in particular, about the Yorkshire puddings.” Places had barely been set or turkey carved, however, when Taylor proceeded to tip out the contents of a salt shaker, fashion himself a line and pretend to snort it – lampooning rock star excess to Margaret’s shocked amusement.
More than 20 years on, Margaret, now 77, looks back fondly on that day and the picture that proves the veracity of this special encounter. In the pic, the band stands around her, bassist Nate Mendel, Dave, guitarist Chris Shiflett, all smiling broadly. It’s Taylor’s body language that’s particularly lovely, though, as he stands in the middle next to Margaret. His head is tilted, touching hers, with an affectionate hand on her shoulder. He was “a nice lad” who made her feel part of the gang and gave her a peck on the cheek when she left.