The Rolling Stones mega-hit Charlie Watts didn’t play on

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Charlie Watts, an English drummer and sometimes singer, was most known for being The Rolling Stones’ drummer. The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts is an English drummer and occasional singer.

He was also renowned for his distinctive and unconventional playing technique, which frequently saw him using just his left hand on the hi-hat and his right hand on the snare.

His drumming can be heard on the majority of The Rolling Stones’ great songs, and his performance was crucial to the band’s success.

In January 1963 at the Ealing Jazz Club, Watts performed with The Rolling Stones for the first time. Less than a month later, he joined the group formally.

He had gotten to know the band well because they shared the same musical community and played with Brian Jones in Blues Incorporated. During an interview with Louder Sound, he spoke about his experience with the band. He said,

“It was his band, really. He was the one with the passion. Brian also played slide and steel, things that people didn’t play. He’d play like Elmore James. We used to go to dances and he’d be playing [James’s] Dust My Broom. Nobody’d heard of this stuff.”

He also once stated, “I don’t really love rock & roll. I love jazz. But I love playing rock ‘n’ roll with the Stones.” Even though Charlie was a great player, the Rolling Stones didn’t always play with him. They proved this on the song “It’s Just Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It),” which substituted Kenny Jones from The Faces for Watts. Ronnie Wood, a bandmate of Jones’ who would subsequently join The Stones permanently, was also featured in the song.

Jones talked about the track back in 2015. It was with Noise 11 and said, “Ronnie Wood, myself, and Ian McLagan lived around Richmond Park. I lived on one of the gates called Robin Hood gate, Ronnie Wood lived on Richmond Gate and Ian McLagan lived on Sheen Gate. Ronnie Wood would always call me up as soon as I got one foot into bed. It was quite late. He’d call me up and say, ‘Kenney, we haven’t got a drummer. Can you come around and play on this’. I’d given Ronnie one of my drum kits so the drum kit was permanently set up there in his studio”.

He added, “I went around and this time it was just Jagger in there, Mick Jagger and Ronnie. Ronnie had just got all this outboard equipment, all these new toys to play with in the studio. He was twiddling the knobs which left me and Mick Jagger in the studio, just guitar and drums and that’s how that song came about. Ronnie came in and said ‘keep playing, I just want to put the two of you down’. It was just Mick Jagger and myself, guitar and drums and we did the track. Ronnie Wood came in, pressed the button, picked up the bass and played on it. I thought it was a demo for whatever they were doing. I forgot all about it. The Stones went into the studio later and tried to recreate that song. They couldn’t capture the feel so they ended up using it”.

Jones also called Watts to apologize but instead, he said that he was happy. He recalled, “When I found out later it was actually me playing on drums on it, I called Charlie up and said, ‘I didn’t mean to play drums on your album’ and he said ‘that’s okay. It sounds like me anyway’. He’s a lovely guy, Charlie. A perfect gentleman”.

Charlie Watts is highly regarded by his contemporaries for his musicianship and his distinctive style. He was elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

He has been a part of The Rolling Stones since their formation, making him one of the band members with the longest tenure. Watts was a welcome exception to the rule in an ego-driven sector.

1 Comment

  1. Mike Wright Reply

    “It’s Just Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It),”. Don’t think I know that one.

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