A world without Charlie Watts

The heartbeat of the Stones is gone

A world without Charlie Watts. It can’t be the same. He was the heart of the Stones.

It’s a sad day for rock & roll. I spoke to two songwriters that I often turn to for a few words at a time like this. Both were literally in tears and weren’t ready to give the praise. One of them said, “For me, it’s worse than any assassination.

The other says: “Sad day. I loved him as a personality and a musician. I have nothing more to say now.

Of all the Stones, he seemed the most entrenched. After all, in their show all the other Stones were standing except Charlie. It was the regular heartbeat. The first stone of the Stones. Even playing with the band, which he did for 59 years, he exuded a kind of zen and bewildered calm. His role on stage was more akin to that of a train engineer than that of a performer. He had Mick Jagger, after all, with Keith and Ronny to be the rock stars. His job was to keep this giant locomotive on track.

He was the perfect drummer for this band in every way. Over the years, Keith has said that Charlie is their dry land. His presence was like a force of gravity with the Stones, without which the others would be undocked and thrown like space debris into the cosmos. He kept the Stones down to earth as best he could, creating the world’s greatest monumental rock band, but always with the delicate finesse of a jazzman. Sometimes he would flip the groove – or backwards – but so gently it felt good and wasn’t obvious.

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For years, every time someone asked Keith Richards what supported the Stones, he said it was Charlie. Keith never shied away from his statement that Charlie Watts is the rolling stones. These are Charlie’s floating grooves that Keith always leaned on and bounced off of often. Keith was thrilled with the secret jazz his drummer would mix into the brew.

But it was the man inside this musician that mattered most to Keith, for he was always the reliable calm in the eye of the hurricane, the one who never pretended, show biz or whatever. it is other before the truth. For this reason, he could be Keith’s barometer of reality; the only guy he could trust to never be wrong. And not to be false was the essence of Charlie Watts.

In many ways he was the reverse of Mick, focused as a leader should be on the show, and the impression made. Mick was a gifted politician to the Stones, generous and charming to the masses. But when it came to taking care of the group, Charlie was the right man. What mattered most to him was the music, not the show. He would never be phony, even slightly: he would never smile if he did not want to smile. Already. For Keith, Charlie’s unwavering worth spoke of old-fashioned gallantry and remained one of the few constants he could trust over the decades. He knew Charlie would always tell him the truth.

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It has been 52 years since the death of Brian Jones, the first Stones to leave. He never got old, unlike everyone else. Yet, as the world knows, they never stopped swaying. They replaced Brian with the great Mick Taylor, who was the first to leave the Stones without dying. Ronny Wood replaced him and has been a rock.

Charlie has reached old age with the same elegance he brought to the drums. As the other Stones gradually transformed into themselves older, time-worn, battered but still rocking, Charlie seemed to become more essentially himself, more regal. He cut his hair long long ago, and how it spun while his innate nobility shone. Back on drums there, he looked a lot more like a duke than an old hippie.

In 2014, Charlie spoke on Australian TV about joining this group, believing it would be another gig in the short term. “When I was asked to come back up the road to rehearse,” he said, “the Rolling Stones were just another band to me – and it was going to last as long as the others, three months or so. a year.”

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Asked to talk about his fellow Stones and then himself, Charlie’s response is essential, as is the man.

“Mick Jagger,” he said, “besides being a very good lyricist, he’s the best leader in the world.”

Keith Richards “is the best rhythm guitarist, he’s unique.”

Ronnie Wood “can do and play anything”.

And what about Charlie Watts?

“I have no idea what he is,” he said. “Miserable, most of the time.”

He then laughed and added, “Sitting in the back, moaning about things.”

June 1964: Charlie (far right) typically looks away from the camera.
From left to right; Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Charlie Watts.
Photo by William Lovelace
Charlie and Ringo. Ringo posted this photo today.

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