Charlie Watts: Paul McCartney pays tribute to Rolling Stones star
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Watts, the Rolling Stones’ drummer who helped the band become one of the biggest in rock ‘n’ roll, sadly passed away this week, aged 80. A statement said: “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts. He was “a cherished husband, father and grandfather,” it said, “and “one of the greatest drummers of his generation”.
Tributes have poured in from across the world of music, including many of his contemporaries.
The Beatles’ Sir Paul McCartney, whose band rose to stardom around the same time as the Stones, described Watts as “a lovely guy” and “a fantastic drummer” who was “steady as a rock”.
Being as steady as a rock is something that was characteristic of Watts’ life.
The laid back drummer has often been marked out as the glue behind the band, his percussion style unmatched by anyone in the business.
But, like any other group, the Stones had their fair share of trials, tribulations and fallouts.
Keith Richards, the Stones’ lead guitarist, previously revealed an incident that saw Watts lose his cool, however.
It came as the band met in Amsterdam to discuss their future after a disagreement with Mick Jagger’s burgeoning ego and remarks he made during the meeting.
According to Richards’ autobiography, ‘Life’, Jagger said to Watts: “None of this should matter to you because you’re only my drummer.”
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Watts did not immediately react to the comment.
Later on, however, as Richards recalled, a drunken Jagger probed Watts over the phone, and said “where’s my drummer?”.
In a hotel room just down the corridor from Jagger, Watts shaved, put on one of his Savile Row suits and spray some cologne before knocking on the door of his bandmate.
Richards said Watts walked straight past him, grabbed Jagger by the lapels of his jacket, and delivered a right hook to his face.
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Watts reportedly added: “Never call me your drummer again.”
Jagger stumbled backwards, he said, and fell onto a platter of smoked salmon, nearly sliding through an open window into the nearby canal.
The frontman was also accused of acting as if he was bigger and more important than the rest of the band.
Richards suggested he suffered from a condition he coined as “lead vocalist syndrome”.
The news of Watts’ death came after it was announced he would miss the band’s US tour dates to recover from an unspecified medical procedure
He was previously treated for throat cancer in 2004, having been told by Jagger at the time: “You have to get well. Don’t worry about us,” while they wrote music for the album, ‘A Bigger Bang’.
Reflecting on the situation in a Q&A with Rolling Stone magazine in 2005, he said: “I was sorry not to be there when Mick and Keith were writing.
“In a way, it was fortuitous, because they were on their own.
“It was a lot of fun for them to be together.”
Watts had been at the heart of the Stones since January 1963.
It was here that he joined Jagger, Richards and Brian Jones to create their fledgling group.
The rest is history.
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