There’s something that just doesn’t sit right about The Rolling Stones taking to the stage without Charlie Watts accompanying them. He was the lifeblood of the group, the one who kept the chaos together, and on top of that, the drummer was a connoisseur of exquisite music.
The musician has undoubtedly entered the conversation within the pantheon of the most celebrated percussionists of all time, and his work will live on for eternity. As this list shows, jazz was his true passion, and he famously once said, “I don’t really love rock & roll. I love jazz. But I love playing rock ‘n’ roll with the Stones.”
Although Watts wasn’t a founding member of The Stones, he was an integral part of every significant creation, and the drummer was the missing piece of the jigsaw necessary to take them to the required heights. From the day Watts joined the group, The Stones finally had the security they needed to expand their output, and his tight playing style kept the rest of the group in check.
Forcibly instructed to leave the building for not having the desired touch. Watts proved to be the perfect foil for The Glimmer Twins and allowed them to become front and centre icons while deliberately avoiding the limelight. Watts didn’t try to be anyone but himself, and even though he was the opposite of Keith Richards, they were all equals in The Rolling Stones.
“Charlie Watts gives me the freedom to fly on stage,” Keith Richards once remarked about his bandmate and perfectly epitomised Watts’ selfless greatness in a sentence. Here, we take a glimpse at the drummers who helped him become the master of his craft.
BBC’s Desert Island Discs is a vital part of the tapestry of British pop culture, and Watts’ appearance provides a glaring insight into the man off-stage. The programme is a time-honoured tradition that has seen Prime Ministers and rock stars alike walk through its studio doors. Created by Roy Plomley way back in 1942, and the format is always the same. Each week, the host invites a guest to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island.
Fans of Watts won’t be surprised to know that Charlie Parker is one of the artists the drummer would take with him to a stranded location. After all, in 1991, the late Rolling Stones man recorded a tribute album titled From One Charlie to his hero, which saw him make a lifelong dream a reality by stepping into jazz.
Duke Ellington is another jazz extraordinaire who Watts held nothing but admiration for, and his track ‘Jack The Bear’ was featured in the eight selections that the drummer picked out. Elsewhere in the interview, Watts opened up about how he’s an “all or nothing” character and the mundane diet which makes him stick thin. After talking about getting clean from drugs, he admitted he’d even given up eating properly and lived on a vanilla diet of “water, sultanas, and nuts”.
In a further deviation from being a rock ‘n’ roll cliche, Watts named a piece of cricket commentary from 1956 as one of his most treasured pieces of music, which sees him use his creative license in an attempt to justify his choice. Explaining his decision, Watts poetically noted: “This will send everyone to sleep, or out to make a cup of tea. I have to have something on there, which would be the summer, and this man’s voice is the summer to me. It’s a game I love and reminds me of going with Mick (Jagger) to Lord’s. It’s just England in the summer, really.”
Watts never pretended to be anything that he wasn’t, and his authenticity shines through on this episode of Desert Island Discs. He was a simple man who loved jazz and cricket, who also happened to be the nonchalant lynchpin of The Rolling Stones. If you have time, sit back, get the kettle on, and let Charlie Watts live in your ear for just over half an hour.
The Rolling Stones are painting it black for Charlie.
The iconic British rock band will change their infamous lips-and-tongue logo from red to black to memorialize late drummer Charlie Watts.
They will pay tribute to Watts with their new logo design when they return to touring next week, according to the Sun, and the emblem will be used on merchandise and tour visuals.
Band members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood also agreed to show an archival montage of Watts during their shows.
“They don’t want it to be a concert that is a downer because they know fans have paid good money to see them,” a source told the Sun.
“But it feels only right that they referenced charlie watts passing because he was such a vital part of the band and it will be strange for them all to not have him there,” the insider said. “They think the plans make for a fitting tribute.”
At the time of Watts’ death, the band, as well as friends and fans, paid tribute to the musician. “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” the trio’s statement read. “He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family.
“Charlie was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and also a member of the Rolling Stones one of the greatest drummers of his generation. We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time,” their note continued.
Elton John wrote at the time: “A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer. The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company. My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of course, The Rolling Stones.”