Does The Death Of Charlie Watts Mean The End of The Rolling Stones -
Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones photo by Ros O'Gorman

Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones photo by Ros O'Gorman

Does The Death Of Charlie Watts Mean The End of The Rolling Stones

by Paul Cashmere on August 25, 2021

in News

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is on record saying “There couldn’t be Rolling Stones without Charlie Watts.” Does the passing of Charlie now mean the end of the Rolling Stones?

The Rolling Stones announced the passing of Charlie today just weeks after he dropped off the upcoming Stones North American tour.

Various factors will play into the future of The Rolling Stones. For starters, age. Mick Jagger is 78, Keith Richards is 77. Ronnie Wood is the kid in the band at 74. Bass player Bill Wyman, who left the band in 1990 (it was announced in 1993) is now 84.

The Covid pandemic will limit plans for the upcoming North American tour, if indeed, it still goes ahead following today’s news.

However, the bigger response is about Charlie himself. The drummer is generally the least noticed member of a band. The frontman is nearly always the pop star, the lead guitarist is always the rock star but generally a drummer goes unnoticed, tapping away at the back of the stage with the audience glory going to the frontmen.

In a construction of a band, the opposite is the truth. In all great rock and roll bands the band follows the timing of the drummer. “It ain’t a thing if it ain’t got no swing” and that is fuelled by the guy on the seat near the back of the wall.

Charlie Watts was an exceptional drummer. His talent was a contrast to his profile, the mild-mannered band member behind the group.

Ronnie Wood once said, “Charlie’s the engine. We don’t go anywhere without the engine.”

Charlie was an assumed musician. He said, “I was brought up on the theory that the drummer is an accompanist. I don’t like drum solos. I admire some people that do them, but generally I prefer drummers playing with the band. The challenge with rock and roll is the regularity of it. My thing is to make it a dance sound; it should swing and bounce.”

Charlie Watts did it all as a minimalist. Listen to the simplicity of the drums on ‘Get Off My Cloud’ and ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’. While the band is rocking on ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ Charlie is laid back. Charlie’s jazz background restrains him for ‘Start Me Up’ and ‘Brown Sugar’. Another drummer may have overshot the runway on those songs, affecting their impact. “Charlie’s probably got the smallest drum kit in rock and roll,” Bill Wyman said once St. Louis radio station KSHE 95. “Drummers today have about 50 or 60 items. He’s got about seven. He’s an economist.”

One of Charlie’s greatest lines may have been this one once for 60 Minutes Australia when asked what Charlie Watts was really like. “I’ve got no idea. Miserable most of the time. Sittin’ in the back, moaning about things.”

The Rolling Stones may or may not get these final North American dates out of the way with Steve Jordan filling in for Charlie. I doubt we will see them tour after these upcoming obligations end.

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