I had just read the news that Charlie Watts has passed away at the age of 80.
The last time I saw The Rolling Stones live was in 2015 in San Diego at Petco Park for the kick-off to their ZIP Code Tour [May 24th].
I have two stand-out memories from that night.
The first was a Stones fan who told me a joke when they reached the segment where Keith Richards plays a few of his own songs.
“You know what Stones fans call it when Keith Richards starts singing?
“They call it the bathroom break.”
My OTHER memory has to do with their stage set-up. They have HUGE screens behind them where you can see everything larger than life. We weren’t even sitting all that close, and could still see great detail.
At one point, the cameraman focuses on Charlie Watts while he is drumming. And in that moment, he accidentally dropped a drumstick, on the HUGE screen, for all to see. He grabbed another stick nearby and moved forward, without even blinking.
My favorite Charlie Watts anecdote is about one night in a hotel, after Mick has said something like, “None of this should matter to you because you’re only my drummer.” This was during an interview in 1978.
Charlie kept his anger bottled up until he got to his hotel room. As he tried to watch TV, Mick kept calling Watts, asking him, “Where’s my drummer?”
Watts turned off his TV set, got dressed all proper, and went down the hall to knock on Jagger’s door.
When Mick answer, Watts punched him right in the jaw.
“Never call me ‘your drummer’ again!”
Below are some photos from that show. Rest in peace, Mr. Watts. No drummer in history pauses their hi-hat motion to strike their snare drum quite like you.