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Charlie Watts chats with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer about early influences

Photo by Andrew Benge/Redferns/Getty Images
Photo by Andrew Benge/Redferns/Getty Images

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts sat down with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sticksman Chad Smith for a four-par interview for Drumchannel.com. Rolling Stone posted the first clip, which is the only portion available for non-subscribers, where Watts goes deep into his key jazz-based musical inspirations.

Although born in 1941 and perfectly situated to be among the millions of British teens to fall under the spell of rock n’ roll, Watts revealed to Smith that it was only in the early-1960’s though Stones co-founders Brian Jones and Keith Richards that he was able to find his way to rock via their blues infatuations: [“Brian and Keith — Brian Jones and Keith used to play Jimmy Reed all day on the little machine — well they actually had a big radiogram — it was the same as playing jazz. It was another drum thing. I learned to play by watching people. If you were playing, I’d be up there watching you. . . how to play this, that, and the other. All those guys, y’know, D.J. Fontana, who probably plays some of the best — what’s termed rock n’ roll — y’know, ‘Hound Dog’ and all those things, they’re fantastic. It’s like a swing drummer, actually. And you watch him with Elvis (Presley), he’s (laughs) playing. . . it’s all one thing.”

The Rolling Stones tour dates (subject to change):

April 20 – Miami Gardens, FL – Hard Rock Stadium
April 24 – Jacksonville, FL – TIAA Bank Field
April 28 – Houston, TX – NRG Stadium
May 7 – Glendale, AZ – State Farm Stadium
May 11 – Pasadena, CA – The Rose Bowl
May 18 – Santa Clara, CA – Levi’s Stadium
May 22 – Seattle, WA – CenturyLink Field
May 26 – Denver, CO – Broncos Stadium at Mile High
May 31 – Washington, D.C. – FedExField
June 4 – Philadelphia, PA – Lincoln Financial Field
June 8 – Foxborough, MA – Gillette Stadium
June 13, 17 – East Rutherford, NJ – MetLife Stadium
June 21, 25 – Chicago, IL – Soldier Field

Fast Facts:

Charles Robert Watts was born June 2nd, 1941 in London, England. His father was a truck driver for British Rail.

He attended Tylers Croft Secondary Modern School, and Harrow Art School. For a short while he worked for an advertising agency.

Watts was working in a club in London called the Troubadour with a group called Blues By Five when he met Alexis Korner.

He joined the Stones upon the recommendation of keyboard player Ian Stewart, who was ousted from the Stones’ early line-up by the group’s manager, who felt Stewart did not look like a rocker.

Watts shares a fondness for cricket with Mick Jagger, and the two always plan the staging and design of tours together with a professional team. Watts was trained as a graphic artist before turning to music.

Side Notes:

In April 2017, Charlie Watts released his latest big band album, called Charlie Watts Meets The Danish Radio Big Band. The set was captured back in 2010 in Copenhagen’s Concert Hall of Denmark, following only four days of rehearsals between Watts and the musicians.

The seven-song album features big band takes on such Rolling Stones classics as “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Paint It, Black” — along with a Bossa Nova-tinged take on “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”


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