Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones) at the Empire Pool in Wembley, September 1973. (Photo by Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
Photo: Getty Images, Evening Standard. All rights reserved.
Charlie Watts was considered the backbone of the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards knows better than that, and put it this way in 1979: “Everyone thinks Mick and Keith are the Rolling Stones. But if Charlie didn’t do what he does on the drums, that wouldn’t be true at all. Then you would find out that the Rolling Stones actually only consist of Charlie Watts. “
In memory of the legendary drummer, we unearthed an anecdote from Keith Richards ‘2010 autobiography LIFE – the one in which Charlie Watts almost knocked Mick Jagger out of an Amsterdam window and in the end Keith Richards’ wedding jacket was the reason it didn’t go down crashed.
“He must have been provoked quite a bit for that. And the blow went in Mick’s direction. “
“There was one of those rare moments in late 1984 when Charlie was lashing out – I’d only seen this a few times, and it can be fatal; It takes a lot of balance and timing, ”says Richards’ memoir. “He must have been provoked quite a bit for that. And the blow went in Mick’s direction. “
It was in Amsterdam, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were on their way back to their hotel room after being out all night. Richards gave his colleague his jacket on the way back. “I lent him the jacket I got married in, ”a gesture that is said to have saved Jagger’s life.
Around five o’clock in the morning the two arrived at the hotel, where Jagger immediately dialed Charlie Watts’ number. “I said don’t call him, not this time. But he did and said, ‘Where’s my drummer?’ No Answer. So he put the phone down. “
That could have ended the story – maybe if someone other than Charlie Watts had been on the other line.
“Mick and I were sitting there, pretty pissed off … when about twenty minutes later someone knocked on the door. It was Charlie Watts. “
“I opened the door and he didn’t even look at me,” and Watt came in instead of in his pajamas. “He just walked past me, towards Mick, stopped in front of him and said: ‘Never call me your drummer again.’ Then he grabbed it by the lapel of my jacket and gave it a right hook.“From this point on, rock history could have taken a different course.
“Mick fell on the silver tray with smoked salmon on the table and began to slide in the direction of the open window and with it the channel below. And I thought the blow wasn’t bad until I realized Mick was wearing my wedding jacket. And so I grabbed him even before he fell into the Amsterdam Canal. “
According to Keith Richards’ story, Charlie Watts angrily asked him why he still grabbed Jagger. Richards then only replied: “My jacket, Charlie, that’s why!”
But one blow was not enough for Watts, continues Richards. “It took me 24 hours to calm Charlie down. Twelve hours later he said it ‘Fuck it, I’m going to go down there and do it again.’ It takes a lot to get this guy upset.“
“If I had run the Rolling Stones, they wouldn’t have got anywhere. We’d still be walking around trying to find an amplifier 30 years later. “
Charlie Watts was seen as someone who was different from the other Stones. He loved jazz and also to dress accordingly. Unlike his band members, Watts remained loyal to his wife Shirley Shepherd, with whom he had been married since 1964. Usually he was in conflict with himself.