Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts passed away on Tuesday 24th of August 2021. He was surrounded by his family in London. Charlie Watts has been the heartbeat of one of the most iconic rock ‘n roll bands of our time since 1963. We celebrate his life by highlighting three of his greatest beats.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
In this blog post about the Rolling Stone’s Charlie Watts
The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has been described as the stoic Stone. Always taking his place in the shadows, and leaving his bandmates to take in all the glitz and glamour. He definitely was a real rock ‘n roll star though. But at one point in his life he decided that enough is enough. After kicking aside all the vices like alcohol and drugs in the mid 80’s he still remained the badass drummer he always was.
His beats are full of interesting swings, and jazzy vibes, which isn’t surprising since Watts always wanted to become a jazz drummer. In an interview he stated that according to him there isn’t a real difference between jazz and rock ‘n roll since both music genres had the same goal: make the audience dance. Below you’ll find three awesome Rolling Stones songs which Charlie Watts turned epic with his authentic groove.
Sympathy for the Devil
Let’s start off with one of the most controversial songs of its time. “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones shocked many parents when it came blasting through the speakers of their kids’ stereo. The lyrics aside, the whole song has a real freaky vibe. Guess why?
In the book “According to the Rolling Stones” Charlie Watts tells the story of how “Sympathy for the Devil” was written. The main struggle was to get the rhythm right, and the Stones tried everything. In the end they settled with an Afro-Brazilian beat borrowed from the ceremonies of the Candomblé religion, which has a really hypnotic effect.
Honky Tonk Women
“Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones is the perfect example of how something that is imperfect turned out to be unique, awesome, and non-reproducible. We’re not talking about the whole song of course, but about the cowbell intro. According to Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones never played the intro of the song live exactly as it is on the record.
On the record, producer Jimmy Miller is playing the cowbell, and as Charlie Watts says in “According to the Rolling Stones”: “Either he comes in wrong, or I come in wrong (…). It’s one of those things that musicologists could sit around analysing for years. It’s actually a mistake but from my point of view it works.”
Paint It black
“Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones is a dark song. To emphasize this darkness, Charlie Watts uses his floor tom. When you listen to the track you can feel the grief in the beat, the chaos in the organ, and the sadness in the lyrics. This might very well be one of the Rolling Stones’ best known songs. That’s why we conclude our list with it, because it saddens us that Charlie Watts will never play his grooves again.
Want to jam along with some more cool tracks by the Rolling Stones? Check out their artist page.