Will the Rolling Stones go on without Charlie Watts?
today at 5:07 am
Mick Jagger calls and wakes up Charlie Watts in the middle of the night, “Where’s my drummer?” Twenty minutes, Watts enters the hotel room where Jagger and Keith Richards are staying. Charlie says to Mick, “Never call me your drummer again. You’re my fucking singer!” Oh yeah, Charlie also punched Mick in the face. Oh yeah, he also got impecibly dressed in a suit before punching out Mick.
Charles Robert Watts: June 2, 1941-August 24, 2021.
When Charlie Watts first met what was to become the Rolling Stones, he was a jazz drummer. He knew little and had little interest in rock and roll or the blues. Keith Richards taught him about Elvis Presley and Muddy Waters.
Richards, Jagger and the rest were having a difficult time finding a permanent drummer. They wanted Charlie Watts but weren’t making enough money to pay what he was already making. The band took cuts in pay to afford him. Watts was worried that the band wouldn’t last. The shelf life of bands in England was usually a couple of weeks. None of the principles in the Rolling Stones would have guessed that this was a relationship that would last six decades.
Yesterday was filled with tributes to the Rolling Stones drummer. Former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, The Who’s guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend and E-Stree Band drummer Max Weinberg were among the many praising Watts. What you heard over and over again was Watts was not only a magnificent musician but a also sweet and gentle soul.
This was a man who was married to his wife Shirley for fifty-seven years. They had one daughter, Seraphina, who is fifty-three years old and one granddaughter, Charlotte, now age twenty-five. They lived on a farm where they raised and bred horses. He collected vintage cars, even though he didn’t know how to drive. He just liked to sit in them.
Charlie Watts was not a guy who lived the rock and roll lifestyle. You certainly would never guess that he would have meshed with men like Jagger, Richards and Ronnie Wood, who have been known to push life to edge and beyond. And yet, when you heard them play, whether it was on a record or live, they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. But now one of their pieces is missing. You have to wonder will they go on? Can they go on?
This isn’t the first time a member of the Stones family has either left the band by choice or died. Founding member Brian Jones left or was kicked out of the band in June of 1969. He died a month later. His replacement, guitarist Mick Taylor stayed for a few years before leaving in 1974. Keyboardist Ian Stewart died in 1985. Bassist Bill Wyman had enough in 1993. Saxophone legend Bobby Keys died in 2014. The Stones found replacements for all of them without missing a beat. However, none of them were Charlie Watts.
The Rolling Stones are scheduled to start their next tour on September 26, in St. Louis. Charlie Watts had planned to sit out the thirteen stop run while he recovered from a recent surgery. It was going to be the first time the band had toured without Watts on drums. Steve Jordan, who has played with dozens of famous artists, is scheduled to fill in on the tour. But, it’s a lot different playing thirteen shows over a few months than becoming a permanent member of the Rolling Stones.
There have to be plenty of musicians who would love to play with Mick, Keith and Ronnie. But, who is the one that fills that missing puzzle piece? It’s not going to be easy. Remember when The Who’s Keith Moon died. They tried to replace him Kenney Jones of the Faces? They never meshed. When John Bonham of Led Zeppelin died, the band members knew they could never replace him and shut it down. Maybe the Stones lead threesome, who are all now in their mid to late seventies, sees this as a sign to call it a day.
It’s way too early for the band to make any decision on what the future will be. They’re grieving the loss of someone who was as closer to them than most family members. But whatever they decide, it will probably happen sooner than later.
So rest easy Charlie. Thanks for the almost sixty years of keeping the beat and keeping the sanity.
Related Post: Try to live your life like Keith Richards
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