Surveying the drummer’s contributions, Jagger called Watts “a heartbeat” of the group — highlighting his “very steady personality” and unflappable musical presence.
“He was a very reliable person, wasn’t a diva — that’s the last thing you want in a drummer,” he noted. “Charlie was a very subtle drummer. … He did love jazz, and that gave him the subtlety that perhaps he wouldn’t have had if he hadn’t been such a student of [jazz] and played [it] a lot. But he was a rock drummer as well. He was a steady rock drummer — he wasn’t just a jazz drummer showing off or trying to be too technical.”
Jagger went on to praise Watts’ “dry sense of humor” and well-rounded personality, saying they used to “hang out quite a lot” outside of their band duties. “We liked sports — we’d go to football; we’d go to cricket games,” he said. “We would have other interests apart from just music.”
The theme of the conversation, though, was how much the Rolling Stones miss their rhythmic anchor. “But of course I really miss Charlie so much, being up there playing,” Jagger added. “Every time we get together now and rehearse, we always think, ‘Oh, yeah, and Charlie would say this, and then he would do that.’ He was a very quirky guy, and we really miss him.
“[We] did so many shows with him and so many tours with him and so many recording sessions, it’s strange being without him,” he continued. “But, you know, we decided, and when he was sick, he said, ‘Well, you’ve got to just carry on and do this tour — don’t stop because of me. So we did.”
The Rolling Stones paid tribute to Watts — who died in August at age 80 — with an onstage salute during their first live show since his death. With newly recruited drummer Steve Jordan onboard, they also honored their former member on Sept. 26 in St. Louis, the first date of their relaunched No Filter run.
The Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts Year by Year: Photos 1962-2020
We collected dozens of pictures of the drummer below for Charlie Watts Year by Year: Photos 1963-2020.