the always classy and constant anchor of the Rolling Stones
Whenever there was a group photo, video, or Rolling Stones presentation, drummer Charlie Watts was always the most humble, sweetest, and last to come across as a “famous rocker.”
Still, it was always heartwarming whenever the other band members grabbed him by the arms and roughly threw him in front, whether during a concert or one of the thousands of interviews the band conducted at the during his nearly 60 years. year of racing.
Watts always seemed to give the same answer – usually dressed in appropriate attire, giving his polite and subdued English gentlemanly manners. He was a man of few words, but each time, smiling at the fact that he was loved around the world, even if he didn’t want to savor the fame like other guys.
This frequent incident of “Get out there, Charlie, people love you” happened the last time the Stones visited Music City as part of their 2015 zip code tour, occurring at a crowded Nissan stadium. (then LP Field) for a hot, sweaty and unforgettable concert.
Thinking back to that night, there were many moments that stood out, such as the band’s interpretation of classics like “Sympathy for the Devil”, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (with The Belmont University Chorale), as well as guitarist and scientist Keith Richards taking the voice of “Before They Make Me Run” and, my favorite from the song “Exile on Main Street” from 1972, the song “Happy”.
However, my favorite part of the show was when it came time to introduce the band (like it was really necessary). Mick Jagger took a few moments to introduce the backing members, first the bass team (smiles at longtime touring bassist Darryl Jones), keyboards, backing vocals, percussionists and other members of the team on site.
When he met the “real members” of the gang, such as guitarists Ron Wood and Keith Richards, the most endearing moment was when Watts was recognized.
At first his name was mentioned and Watts waved to the crowd behind his drums. Never one for the limelight, Watts politely sat down and took a seat behind the skins ready to resume the show.
That is, until Mick comes running back and grabs Watts by the arm, bringing him to the front of the stage, where Watts receives a wave of applause, though he may have seemed a little embarrassed by encouragement from his bandmate.
A moment like this shows why Charlie Watts was the anchor, “the right man” and the steadfast humble guy he always was, not wishing for immense adulation, but still grateful for the life he made. part.
Reading about Watt’s, after his death earlier this week at age 80, one of the most fascinating aspects of his career was that while he was arguably a member of arguably the biggest rock n ‘roll bands in all time he always considered his role in The Rolling Stones to be nothing more than a “day job”, something that allowed him to pursue things that he was truly passionate about, like his longtime love. for jazz.
This is the makings of a true artist, because it was not about fame, but simply a catalyst for his creativity.
For a good example of Watts in his truest element, look for his band, The A & B & C & D by Boogie Woogie, in particular the song “More Sympathy for The Drummer” recorded live in Paris in 2011. It’s is a true swinger who definitely lives up to the namesake of the group.
Also, if you are a subscriber to SiriusSM, “The Bennington Show” on Faction Talk 103 posted a really good interview with Watts from 2012. I recommend you search and listen to it.
Watts’ success as a member of the Stones simply allowed him to freely pursue other opportunities as an artist, as well as being a devoted husband to his wife, Shirley Ann Shepherd, for nearly 60 years. He wasn’t the party animal, the complacent rock star who partook in all the sex, drugs, and other commodities that come with being famous. He was an accomplished professional, which, given the reputation of the band, speaks volumes.
On the contrary, he was the antithesis of how the band had been shaped in the public eye, and that made them all the more interesting as a human being.
It’s also interesting to think of Watts in the same context with other drummers of the time, many of whom were considered the “wild card” of the group. Think of people like Keith Moon from The Who or John Bonham from Led Zeppelin.
These guys are often portrayed as crazy, unpredictable drunks always looking for a little fun or trouble, the ones who drove cars into hotel pools or threw a TV out of a four story window. .
Watts refrained from doing all of this, instead focusing on his craft and using fame to his advantage by being a devoted husband and respectful Englishman, while pursuing his true interests.
He’s probably the only rock star who didn’t really have an ego. He was just doing his job and taking time for his hobbies.
That really does say something considering that your band is one of the greatest of all time besides The Beatles.
Charlie Watts was the man, an inspiration, someone from whom many young artists can learn a thing or two, and may they rest in peace.
Jay Powell is a reporter for the Daily Herald. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JayPowellCDH.