Steve Martin, the founder of US-based publicity company Nasty Little Man, has opened up about the experience of announcing the death of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins.
Over the years, Martin's firm has worked with a number of legendary artists, including Paul McCartney, Metallica, Gorillaz, David Bowie, Foo Fighters, U2, Radiohead, Beastie Boys, and Nine Inch Nails, among others.
Speaking to Variety about his career, Martin explains, "Unfortunately, in the last 10 years, I've had to write confirmations of an artist's passing three times". The deaths Martin is referring to are the passing of David Bowie in 2016, Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch in 2012 and Hawkins earlier this year, the drummer having been found dead in his Bogota hotel room on March 25.
Of the difficulties surrounding the process of announcing Hawkins' passing, he continues, "With Taylor, it was more sensitive, because there were a lot of details coming out from the Colombian media.
"There was a lot of second-hand talk in another magazine story, with people relaying things Taylor might have actually said but should have been left to friends talking amongst friends. Managing that, and trying to make it cause as little pain as possible, was a really delicate procedure."
Martin also goes on to say how working on Hawkins' death announcement was especially difficult due to their friendship, making it much more of a personal issue.
"It was really rough: I’m very pragmatic about who amongst the clients becomes an actual friend, but Taylor was one," the publicist says. "If the band didn’t work for four or five weeks and we didn’t have any contact, he’d call me just to say 'What’s up?' He did that with a lot of people he considered friends, which I didn’t really learn until after he died.
"He had so much energy and positivity to share. He didn’t have to do that: He played drums full-time in one of the biggest bands in the world, had all his side projects and session work, and was helping to raise three kids. He somehow found the time to brighten so many people’s days with these morning calls about a U2 B-side or something."
Noting how it's vital to use an appropriate cadence when making such important announcements, Martin adds: "The first step is getting the right tone when you’re writing that statement. I don’t know how I do it, because it has always been done in a state of shock. It’s a blessing and a curse that I’ve seemed to get it right in all three of those situations."