Thursday, July 02, 2009

Charles Robert "Charlie" Watts, born July 02, 1941, is the drummer of The Rolling Stones. He is also a jazz bandleader and commercial artist. Watts is sometimes referred to as "The Wembley Whammer" when introduced by Mick Jagger during a concert.
Charlie Watts was born to a lorry driver for a precursor of British Rail and his wife at University College Hospital, London, England, and raised in Islington and Wembley boroughs. The family moved to Pilgrims Way Wembley in the late 1940s. Charlie has a sister named Linda. Between 1952 and 1956, he attended Tylers Croft Secondary Modern School. After that, he went to Harrow Art School. He was talented at football while at Secondary School. In 1960, he was working with a local band when he met Alexis Korner, who persuaded him to join his own band, Blues Incorporated.
Shortly afterwards, Watts left Blues Incorporated, citing its hectic schedule. A trained commercial artist, Watts found work at the advertising firm of Charles Hobson and Grey. However, in January 1963, Watts joined the Rolling Stones as a drummer (also keeping his day job for several months thereafter). Watts remains a member of the Rolling Stones to this day.

Watts has been involved in many activities outside his high-profile life as a member of The Rolling Stones. In 1964, he published a cartoon tribute to Charlie Parker entitled Ode to a High Flying Bird. Although he has made his name in rock, his personal tastes focus on jazz; in the late 70s, he joined Ian "Stu" Stewart in the back-to-the-roots boogie-woogie band Rocket 88, which featured many of the UK's top jazz, rock and R&B musicians. In the 1980s, he toured worldwide with a big band that included such names as Evan Parker, Courtney Pine, and Jack Bruce, who was also a member of Rocket 88. In 1991, he organized a jazz quintet as another tribute to Charlie Parker. 1993 saw the release of Warm And Tender, by the Charlie Watts Quintet, which included vocalist Bernard Fowler. This same group then released Long Ago And Far Away in 1996. Both records included a collection of Great American Songbook standards.
After a successful collaboration with Jim Keltner on The Rolling Stones' Bridges to Babylon, Charlie and Jim released a techno/instrumental album called simply Charlie Watts/Jim Keltner Project. Featuring the names of his favorite jazz drummers, Charlie stated that even though the tracks bore such names as the "Elvin Suite" in honor of the late Elvin Jones, Max Roach and Roy Haynes, they were not copying their style of drumming, but rather, capturing a feeling by those artists. Watts' latest solo outing has been released in 2004. Watts At Scott's was recorded with his group, The Charlie Watts Tentet, at the famous jazz club in London, Ronnie Scott's.

Besides his musical creativity, he contributed graphic art to early records such as the Between the Buttons record sleeve and was responsible for the famous 1975 tour announcement press conference in New York City. The band surprised the throng of waiting reporters by driving and playing "Brown Sugar" on the back of a flatbed truck in the middle of Manhattan traffic; a gimmick AC/DC copied later the same year, Status Quo repeated the trick for the 1984 video to "The Wanderer" and U2 would later emulate it in the 2004 video for "All Because of You". Watts remembered this was a common way for New Orleans jazz bands to promote upcoming dates. Moreover, with Jagger, he designed the elaborate stages for tours, first contributing to the lotus flower shaped design of that 1975 Tour of the Americas, as well as the 1989–1990 Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour.
There are many instances where Jagger and Richards have lauded Watts as the key member of The Rolling Stones. Richards went so far as to say in a 2005 Guitar Player magazine interview that the Rolling Stones would not be, or could not continue as, the Rolling Stones without Watts. An example of Watts' importance was demonstrated in 1991 when Bill Wyman left the band after years of deliberation. After auditioning several bassists, Jagger and Richards asked Watts to choose the new bass player; he selected the respected session musician Darryl Jones, who had been a sideman for both Miles Davis and Sting.
In 1989, the Rolling Stones, including Watts, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Also, in the July 2006 issue of Modern Drummer, Charlie Watts was voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, along with the likes of Steve Gadd, Keith Moon, Buddy Rich and other greats. He now lives in Dolton, a rural village in Devon, and owns an Arabian horse stud farm. He also owns a percentage of The Rolling Stones' various corporate entities.
Click to watch him talking about himself and jazz.

No comments: