Tuesday, August 24, 2021. The text came in from my son at 1:02 pm.
“RIP charlie watts! Sad news”
Rather stunned, I quickly replied: “Oh no! Very sad news!”
The first article that appeared on the news feed on my phone was from Variety Magazine. Pieces from Rolling Stone Magazine and the Washington Post followed soon after.
Charlie’s band, The Rolling Stones, explained in a statement on their Twitter page:
“He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family.”
Charlie Watts and – as far as I’m concerned – The Rolling Stones, are gone.
I first got into music in 1964 thanks to The Beatles, but before long I started listening to and became a huge fan of The Rolling Stones.
I bought their singles…
…and their albums…
…and for many, many months these records were the ones that I played most often on my little Magnavox stereo.
So, even though – at the age of 12 – Ringo Starr was my inspiration to begin learning how to play the drums, the playing of Charlie Watts soon began ingraining itself deep into my slowly developing teenage musical psyche.
Today, after I’d read the Variety and Rolling Stone articles, I started thinking about Charlie’s music, his impeccable playing on all those very well worn Rolling Stones records I still own. Of course “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Honky Tonk Women” and many of the hits danced around in my head, but one song in particular kept stepping to the front.
The title song to their 8th (British) LP.
Charlie really shines on this one.
Charles Robert Watts was born on June 2, 1941, in Kingsbury, UK.
He got his first drum set in 1955 and practiced by playing along with his collection of Jazz records. He started playing with Rhythm & Blues bands in 1959, thinking that R&B was just “Charlie Parker, played slow.”
He joined The Rolling Stones in January 1963 and played his first gig as an official member of the band in London on February 2, 1963.
Charlie Watts played his last concert with The Rolling Stones in Miami, Florida, on August 30, 2019.
Charlie is survived by Shirley, his wife of 57 years; his daughter, Serafina; and his granddaughter, Charlotte.
In 2012, music journalist Jem Aswad wrote a review of a Rolling Stones concert in Brooklyn, NY, for Billboard Magazine. He had this to say about Charlie Watts:
“For all of Mick and Keith’s supremacy, there’s no question that the heart of this band is and will always be Watts: At 71, his whipcrack snare and preternatural sense of swing drive the songs with peerless authority, and define the contradictory uptight-laid-back-ness that’s at the heart of the Stones’ rhythm.”
As my son said, “Rest in peace, Charlie Watts,” and thank you so very much.