Charlie Watts, drummer for The Rolling Stones, died Tuesday at the age of 80. Vulture Watts said he was the “most intriguing” member of the group and one of the greatest drummers of all time. The American media points out that despite the success of The Rolling Stones, he never became a “classic” rock star “. Describing Watts’ nearly 60-year career, journalists present a number of stories from his life.
Charlie Watts died on Tuesday in a London hospital surrounded by family. In a statement released by Watts’ spokesman, the musician described the music as “a beloved husband, father and grandfather, as well as a member of The Rolling Stones and one of the greatest drummers of his generation.” He was 80 years old.
Quiet, elegantly dressed Watts was often cited as one of the best rock drummers in the world. He was widely respected for his style of play, which has accompanied the Stones for nearly 60 years, writes the Associated Press. Unlike his bandmates, known for their love of parties and excesses, playing The Rolling Stones seemed to Watts more of a work than a calling and a lifestyle, Rolling Stone said.
Together with his wife, Shirley, he owned a stud of Arabian horses. In addition to playing the drums, Watts designed the covers of the Stones albums and the scenery for some of the band’s tours. “Even though he was part of the band of all time, he never became a classic ‘rock star’,” noted Vulture.
The site features stories from the artist’s life that “made him the most intriguing of the Rolling Stones members”.
I’m not your drummer
One of the most famous anecdotes is the one that happened to musicians in the Netherlands. The editors of Vulture emphasized that while there are many versions of this story, its meaning remains the same. While the band members were in Amsterdam, Mick Jagger called Watts’ room at five o’clock in the morning. The Rolling Stones singer, under the influence of alcohol, was supposed to ask: “where is my drummer?” Irritated, Watts got out of bed, shaved, put on a suit, and went to Keith Richards’ room, where Jagger was also.
According to one version, Watts was supposed to punch Jagger in the face and say, “Don’t ever call me your drummer again. You’re my vocalist.”
Musicians and journalists who have followed the career of The Rolling Stones note Watts’ musical origins. Vulture emphasized that in his youth he listened rather to jazz. “Partly because I was never a teenager,” he said in an interview when asked about his youth. Though he co-founded one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands in the world for decades, Watts never forgot jazz. While The Rolling Stones were taking a break from playing, the drummer recorded several jazz albums.
One of the things Watts complained about during his tours, Vulture journalists noted, was sleep problems. The drummer was killing time in hotel rooms by sketching the beds. – I kept a diary. In it, I sketched all the beds I had slept on during tours since 1967, he said in an interview in mid-years.
The editors of Vulture noted Watts’ love of tailored suits, of which he had over 200. He admitted that his fashion inspirations were, among others, the American actor Fred Astaire or jazz legends – Miles David and Duke Ellington. Watts has been featured on Vanity Fair and GQ’s Best Dressed Men’s lists.
A motoring enthusiast without a driving license
The Rolling Stones drummer collected vintage cars, although he did not have a driving license. – Charlie is a great English eccentric. How else could you describe a guy who buys a 1936 Alfa Romeo just to look at the dashboard? He doesn’t know how to drive, he just sits down and watches – said Keith Richards about his teammate. Another Rolling Stones member Ronnie Wood even claimed that Watts ordered suits that would fit each of his cars.
Watts abused alcohol and drugs in the 1980s. – When I look back, I think it was a midlife crisis. Around 1983, I became a completely different person, and I came out of it around 1986. I almost lost my wife, all because of my behavior, he admitted in an interview quoted by Drum magazine. In an interview with The Mirror, Watts said that “after two years on speed and heroin, I was very weak.” – My daughter told me I looked like Dracula. I’m really crazy, he said.
Years later, he admitted that he quit his addiction after an incident in one of the London clubs, when he sprained his ankle during the performance. – I had to go straight. I just stopped – for me and my wife – he said.
“I thought I wouldn’t survive”
In 2004, Watts was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The radiation therapy had the desired effect and the drummer was back in the game. – I thought that I would not survive – he confessed in an interview with “The Mirror”.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / ENNIO LEANZA