Charlie Watts

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About Charlie Watts

Drummer Charlie Watts was the engine that kept the Stones rolling for more than half a century. As the band's most unassuming, workmanlike, and reliably dapper member, he always projected an air of cool nonchalance that contrasted sharply with Mick Jagger’s peacocking swagger and Keith Richards’ outlaw mystique. But his wrist-cracking snare thwacks were what give early signature singles like 1965’s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” their agitated energy, while his hard-driving rhythm amplified the apocalyptic menace of “Gimme Shelter.” And when you consider the Stones’ various stylistic experiments over the years—the loose Latin-psych jamming of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” the seedy disco of “Miss You,” the strobe-lit club grooves of “Undercover of the Night”—it was Watts’ steady hand anchoring every muse-chasing moment. Outside the Stones, Watts (born in London in 1941) indulged a life-long love of blues and jazz that predated his career in rock. In 1991, he formed a quintet in tribute to another Charlie—Parker—and released a series of albums that reinvigorate bop standards, illustrating his foremost dedication: serving the music. "I don't know what show biz is,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune that year. "There are people who just play instruments, and I'm pleased to know that I'm one of them.”

Wembley, Middlesex, England
June 2, 1941

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