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Charlie Watts 1941-2021

“I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Charlie’s wife Shirley, the rest of his family and to the guys in the band.

He was always the perfect gentleman, as sharp in his manner of dress as he was on the drums.

Charlie was a truly great drummer, whose musical knowledge of drumming technique, from jazz to the blues, was, I’m sure, the heartbeat that made the Rolling Stones the best rock and roll band in the world.”

~ ROGER DALTREY

 

“I only played with Charlie once, when he drummed for Ronnie Lane and me on our Rough Mix album. We did two faultless live takes (no overdubs at all) of my song ‘My Baby Gives It Away’. His technique was obvious immediately, the hi-hat always slightly late, and the snare drumstick held in the flat of the left hand, underpowered to some extent, lazy-loose, super-cool. The swing on the track is explosive. I’ve never enjoyed playing with a drummer quite so much. Of course that brings up Keith Moon, who was so different to Charlie. At Keith’s funeral Charlie surprised me by openly weeping, and I remember wishing I could wear my heart on my sleeve like that. I was tightened up like a snare drum myself.

Charlie lived a quiet life in the English countryside. He had a London bolthole in St James’s for many years which I think he used mainly to visit his tailor and buy paintings. He is the exemplar of the perfect marriage, still married to his art-school girlfriend who he married secretly in 1964. I understand he lived a quiet and respectable life on the road as well. I know that like me he wasn’t mad on touring, but that wry smile of his – that hid a mischievous side to him that few us saw – could turn into the most beautiful wide-mouthed laugh at very little urging. I could make him smile simply by talking about growing up following my father Cliff’s post-war dance band. Charlie loved the ‘real’ music of that era.

I’ve said here that his playing on ‘My Baby Gives It Away’ was flawless. I have suddenly remembered that he had trouble with the clipped ending. On the second take he nailed it, but was so shocked he had managed it that he burst into laughter and fell off his stool. That was a Keith Moon stunt, ask any drummer what they most dread doing and they will probably reply that they never want to fall off their stool.”

~ PETE TOWNSHEND

35 thoughts on “Charlie Watts 1941-2021”

  1. Joe Pacheco says:

    What beautiful words.

  2. Jeffrey McDonald says:

    Great tributes to a great musician. I wish I head known him personally, which is something we’d all like to be said about us after we’re gone.

  3. Tammy says:

    Such beautiful tributes…thanks for sharing guys!

  4. David Olson says:

    Funny, I just recently listened to Rough Mix after a long absence and had no idea Charlie Watts was on the My Baby Gives It Away’ track. I always like that song.

  5. Jeff Scott says:

    Unmistakable sound & technique. That’s what makes an iconic musician. There just aren’t many mainstays like Charlie Watts. Thank you for the rock & roll legacy.

  6. Man you can here the voice of The Who in that ole song, I never heard that one

  7. Tom says:

    The passing of Charlie, more than most who have already left us, is signaling the end of the rock era. Maybe, when the story is written many years from now, the end of the rock era will be 2021 for Charlie, just as 1750 and the passing of Bach ends the Baroque era. 🙂
    Bittersweet – the loss is heavy, but the music is forever.

  8. Dan says:

    Well said gents!!! When I saw the Stones live I found myself fixated on Charlie’s playing. So powerful with a little drum kit.

  9. David Cline says:

    Beautifully said, boys. Thank you for sharing. These are extraordinary days. Your messages of love and respect are so precious.

  10. Hoagie says:

    RIP

    Mr Charlie Watts

    Did not know him but from a distance he seemed like such a class act

    I do like his work on rough mix with Pete I like a lot of his work with the stones and his solo activity God bless his family

  11. Nige Peck says:

    So many of the musical family I grew up with have left!
    The last beat is done Charlie now time to rest your sticks and take some R&R
    Love ya big Man
    🙏❤️

  12. Neil says:

    Wonderful words from both of you, he truly was a great drummer, very different from Keith, but the rock solid beat behind the Stones.

  13. Mitchell Gruesen says:

    Pete & Roger, Thanks for posting the kinds words about Charlie Watts and reminding your fans that he played with you & Ronnie on Rough Mix, My Baby Gives It Away. I’ve always loved that song. Now it will be more special. On another note, I went to the Sept. 2019 show at Blossum Music Center and thank you for playing Imagine A Man. Roger you song it beautifully and the orchestra accompaniment is what got me to buy the most expensive concrete ticket of my life. Needless to say my wife thought I’d lost my mind, but it was she who gifted me my first The Who fan club memebership. That Blossum show was like my 10th or so time to see The Who since my first show in Cincinnati in Dec. 1975.

  14. Charlie Watts, Mr.GQ, behind the drums and off..Nothing but Class…Never needing or wanting the Spotlight,his drumming and style spoke volume…From his opening in Honky Tonk Woman, I was hooked and wanted to play the drums…Thank You Charlie.. My Sympathy to his family and the Stones…

  15. Mike Vouri says:

    Thanks, Pete. Beautifully rendered. You captured the nuts and bolts of the man.

  16. Bradly Wolkis says:

    I am a drummer. Have been all my life. I have many influences but Charlie & Keith are probably my top two.
    Rough Mix is on of my all time favorite records, since the day it was released. With Ronnie gone for so long now, and Keith, The Ox and now Charlie, it’s getting harder and harder to hang on to my heroes. Thank goodness we have the recorded memories, that we can keep forever.
    🙏🏻 R. I. P. C H A R L I E 🤍

  17. Marco says:

    R.i.p..charlie….con la tua morte se ne va uno dei miti della mia giovinezza e di altri milioni di persone.
    P.s. salutami keith…sono sicuro farete un bel frastuono nell’aldilà!

  18. Ted Maloney says:

    As soon as I heard about Charlie’s death, I didn’t think on a Stones song, I thought of his drumming on My Baby Gives It Away…specifically the ending, which was perfect. Pete must have mentioned this long ago.

    RIP Mr. Watt

  19. john alvarez says:

    Thanks Pete great album in high school and ronnie lane was a great friend to you also

  20. Ernie says:

    Outstanding !

  21. William R Sulahian says:

    Thank You for your uplifting memories of your fellow brilliant artist !
    So sad to hear of his passing 😔

  22. Monty Milne says:

    Awwwwwww – what wonderful tributes by his peers!

    Mr. Watts is one of my top drumming influences since the early 1980’s and “Tattoo You.” He was so important to the development of my style!

    His passing is reminding me of Mr Entwistle’s passing in 2002. Both men had huge influence and meaning to me and my life adventures.

    Thanks for the memories and inspiration, Mr. Watts, and thanks to The Who for sharing these endearing tributes ( “My Baby Gives It Away” is a favorite song of mine and this alerted me to who played drums on the song – I had no idea! ).

    🙂
    Monty

  23. Beautifully written Pete, from a Philadelphia fan who has followed The Who intently since first seeing you geezers at The Factory October 1969. Met John twice over the years. To know and associate with Charlie surely must be an unforgettable experience. Thanks for making my life better since I was 16…68 now. Last I saw was at your first show back at Madison Square Garden Sept 2019. Cheers!

  24. Stephen Hebscher says:

    Thanks Roger and Pete for your wonderful words about Charlie Watts. Pete, I discovered the Rough Mix album when I was in first year university in 1979. My roommate, who had exquisite musical taste (like myself) had this album. I was already a huge Who fan. We combined our vinyl collections and played the best music in residence. From the moment I started collecting vinyl in 1974 I loved to read the liner notes. Lo and behold, when I saw who played on the Rough Mix record, it blew my mind. My heart warms thinking about (and still listening to) the great British rock bands of the 60s and 70s: The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Faces, Cream, King Crimson, etc. They are all represented in that record. So sorry for the loss of a great Rock and Roll drummer. All the best. Stephen

  25. Mike Haddon says:

    Nice words from Pete and Rog. Its just a reminder that Charlies passing is a point in time that our hero’s are a little older and we cherish the great music they have entertained us with for so many years. R.I.P Charlie, A steady hand in a big ‘Ol’ rock and roll band….

  26. stuart simpson says:

    Thank You Pete and Roger for paying your respects. The paradox of Charlie Watts passing, in death he achieved what he tried so hard to avoid in life and got himself on the front pages of all the national newspapers! He will be missed as much as John and Keith are.

  27. Mick Doohan says:

    Great memories to look back at with Charlie. Seems like he was a gentleman and an obvious amazing and cool drummer.
    History is so important to rekindle such great music moments that last forever even reminiscing about your first gig..
    “..why should i care..” because we all should care..
    Charlie RIP.

  28. Rob McCoy says:

    Thank you for your insights, gentlemen. It’s nice to know that a legend like Charlie was also a great human being. Take care and rock on . . .

  29. Alan Scally says:

    Beautifully personal and thoughtful tributes from Pete and Roger. And what a life Charlie Watts had; from growing up in a Wembley pre-fab to conquering the music world as possibly the best rock ‘n’ roll band ever, and remaining the ultimate gent all along the way. RIP Charlie, what a ride you had.

  30. Lew Garrison says:

    Pete, this is one of the most eloquent tributes I have ever read. Those of us who are fans want our rock idols to live forever. We mourn their passing. We relish the stories about their lives by those who really knew them. We knew Charlie was a good man—a humble man who did not seek fame but learned how to cope with it. You have many of those same traits. God bless you Pete, and God speed Charlie.

  31. Dave says:

    Lovely words from Roger and Pete. It sums up what a lovely, quiet, gentleman Charlie was. God bless him.

  32. Luis says:

    Two nights before Charlie Watts died, I was thinking how hard was going to be for Keith, Mick and Ronnie to tour this time in Charlies absence.
    Even in the case he could join later, how hard for a 80 year-old man to play the drums for two hours. So I was sure this would be the Rolling Stones’ goodbye. Now, it will be even harder to see them touring. Charlie Watts was the Rolling Stones heartbeat. Keith Richards often said, that the Rolling Stones wont be the Rolling Stones without him

    Unlike Keith Moon’s, Charlie’s drum set was small; the basics. Thank God he played with Pete on ‘My Baby Gives it Away’ and in the title cut.

    Mr. Cool has left the building.

  33. Long John Silver says:

    Because of the bloody schoolworks, I came to know that Charlie passed away twenty days after his decease. I really felt like something is fell from the bottom of my heart. The Rolling Stones was truly a band that made me infatuated with rock and roll, and Charlie was surely a big factor in that. As an 18 years old girl, seeing the deaths of my heroes is very devastating. I hope I die before I get old…

  34. NICK ENTWISTLE says:

    I was lucky enough to see the Stones on their last UK Tour at Coventry and we all sang’Happy Birthday’to Charlie whose Birthday it was that day.

    The look on his face was one of total embarrassment!! – you got the impression it was all about the music with Charlie, no rock star – just one of the greatest drummers of all time!!!

  35. Rob Benner says:

    A great percussionist. Another one through the mirror door! Who’s Next ?

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