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The Rolling Stones on Loss of Charlie Watts: “He Held the Band Together for So Long”

In a new interview, the surviving members of the band talk about the late drummer's impact on their sound

the rolling stones charlie watts mick jagger keith richards ronnie wood interview
The Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts, Charlie Watts, photo by David Wolff – Patrick/Redferns
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    One month after the death of longtime drummer Charlie Watts, the remaining members of The Rolling Stones have opened up about their tremendous loss. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood shared their memories of Watts and described his impact on the band.

    “He held the band together for so long, musically, because he was the rock the rest of it was built around,” Jagger explained. “The thing he brought was this beautiful sense of swing and swerve that most bands wish they could have. We had some really nice conversations in the last couple of years about how all this happened with the band. It’s a huge loss to us all. It’s very, very hard.”

    The lead singer also broke down how Watts brought his eclectic musical background to the Stones. “He wasn’t just a straight rock drummer,” said Jagger. “Charlie brought another sensibility, the jazz touch. And he didn’t play very heavy.” Still, added the singer, Watts could also be “straight-ahead” on songs like “Get Off of My Cloud.”

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    Further sharing how they developed a musical relationship in which Watts could instantly take cues from Jagger’s vocal riffs, the frontman remembered, “We would get into a groove. He would understand what I was trying to do, and I would understand what he was trying to do. That was different from a guitar player’s relationship. And I had that with Charlie, developed over many, many years.”

    Meanwhile, Richards said he and Watts immediately bonded over their distaste for “show biz” and a shared preference for focusing on music. The legendary guitarist described Watts’ consistency in a unique manner: “A most vital part of being in this band was that Charlie Watts was my bed. I could lay on there, and I know that not only would I have a good sleep, but I’d wake up and it’d still be rocking.”

    Wood chimed in by saying Watts let his drums do the talking. “He certainly had his powerful views,” said Wood. “But he said it with his playing. He just spoke through his instrument.”

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    Despite Watts’ passing, the Stones will be going forward with their upcoming US tour. Three weeks before his death, Watts had announced that he would be sitting out the 12-date trek after undergoing a medical procedure. Filling in will be the band’s longtime associate Steve Jordan, who is a member of Richards’ side project X-Pensive Winos. Although their shows obviously won’t be the same, the Stones have been rehearsing with Jordan since back in July.

    On Monday night, the Stones played a private warm-up gig for the tour at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts that marked their first concert since Watts’ passing. The latest leg of their “No Filter Tour” kicks off in late September and runs through November. Snag tickets here.

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