Charlie Watts was a saint, we learn Charlie ‘s Good Tonight. He was modestyitself, bought beautiful gifts for his friends, loved his wife, daughter andgranddaughter deeply, and put aside his love of jazz to become a drummer in afledgling rock band. He always dressed impeccably, didn’t participate in theorgies of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll that the Rolling Stones inflicted ontour, and always organized his socks neatly by color.
Journalist Paul Sexton boasts that over the years he had a lot of access tothe inner circle of the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger and Keith Richardscollaborated on the authorized biography of Charlie Watts, who died last yearat the age of 80. The book title was taken from a statement by Mick Jaggerduring a performance at New York’s Madison Square Garden on November 28, 1969:”Charlie’s good tonight, ain’t he?”
On January 1, 1963, Charles Robert Watts played his first gig with thefledgling Rolling Stones, who had struggled to persuade him to give up hiswell-paid jobs as a jazz drummer for the precarious band life. Watts washardly familiar with the blues and rock’n’roll in which the Stones wanted tolearn. His heroes were jazz greats like Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington.”Charlie [Watts] swings really nice but he can’t rock,” wrote Keith Richard(then without -s) in the diary he kept when they lived together in thelegendary filthy apartment on London’s Edith Grove.
Later, Richards had to come back to that: precisely because he had roots injazz, the Stones got the most effective drummer a rock band could wish for.Throughout his life, Charlie Watts continued to play on a tiny drum kit, evenas the Rolling Stones rose to become the Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band in theWorld in the 1980s with long strings of stadium appearances. The Who’s PeteTownshend gave Watts the greatest compliment the drummer could wish for in hismemoriam: “The Stones could swing like the band of [Count] Basie.”
Charlie Watts didn’t like to come to the fore. Sexton recounts severalanecdotes about his dry humor. “I give the impression that I’m bored behind mydrum kit,” said Watts in 1964 when the first fame came, “but I’m not. I justhave an incredibly dull face.” Legendary is his statement at the celebrationof 25 years of Stones, which according to Watts had consisted of “five yearsof work and twenty years of hanging out.”
Inevitably, Sexton’s book turns into yet another chronicle of the RollingStones’ more often and better-described adventures, with Watts’ visits to hisSavile Row tailor and his quest for rare books and Civil War paraphernalia notyielding the most exciting stories. . In the mid-1980s, the generallyextremely moderate Charlie went through “a sort of midlife crisis” withalcohol and drugs, but he was soon off the hook. Even the famous story of MickJagger calling him “my drummer” and a furious Charlie allegedly pushing thesinger back into a bowl of salmon salad is toned down. “He didn’t touch me,”Jagger says now. Charlie’s holiness must not be tampered with after his death.
With unnecessary details about the Rolling Stones’ feats of arms – the BiggerBang tour from 2005-2007 grossed $558 million – Charlie Watts’s life storydeserves a better perspective than the endless memories of his goodness thatfriends like Jools Holland dish up here. . The crippled translation doesn’thelp: The “jacketless” band members that manager Andrew Loog Oldham saw playon their first meeting are performed here “bare-chested”. And what the hellare we supposed to do with a passage like “The boy Watts became a teenager inJuly 1954, when Doris Day screamed from the highest hills and told the goldendaffodils of her ‘Secret Love’”? The translation of Doris Days lyrics abouthighest hills and golden daffodils is counterproductive here.
Gentleman rocker and history freak Charlie Watts once stated that he wouldrather have been born in 1810. He didn’t have a cell phone. Keith Richardscommunicated with him by fax. When the drummer of the cover band The Rollin’Clones had taken the plunge and sent his great role model an invitation forhis birthday, he received a handwritten letter back: “Thank you, I would liketo come but I already have a family obligation. Sincerely, Charlie Watts,drummer of the Rolling Stones.”