Charlie Watts (full name Charles Robert "Charlie" Watts) was born on the second of June 1941 and he is currently the drummer of The Rolling Stones. He is also a very known commercial artist and jazz bandleader. When introduced in concerts by Mick Jagger you will sometimes hear the nickname "The Wembley Whammer".
The Early Life of Charlie Watts
Charlie Watts was born at the University College Hospital in London, England and was eventually raised in Islington. His father was a lorry driver and he was the only child of the family. Between the years 1952 and 1956 he attended the classes of the Tylers Croft Secondary Modern School and eventually went to Harrow Art School. The year 1960 saw Watts working in a local band until he met Alexis Korner. He then joined his band, called Blues Incorporated, which he eventually left due to a hectic schedule. Time passed and Watts found work at Chales Hobson and Grey, an advertising company. The year 1962 saw him join The Rolling Stones as drummer although he kept his day job until a long-term contract at the Crawdaddy Club (near London) was signed by The Rolling Stones. It was in January 1963 that he devoted his life to music and The Rolling Stones.
Life with The Rolling Stones
Charlie Watts is mostly known for his drumming in The Rolling Stones but his creativity was also exhibited as he contributed graphic art to some of the early albums by the band like Between the Buttons. He was also responsible for the 1975 tour announcement press conference that was held in New York City. That was when The Rolling Stones surprised everybody as they were driving and playing Brown Sugar while on the back of a truck in the middle of Manhattan traffic. What is interesting is that AC/DC copied the move and eventually U2 did the same in the nineties. Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger also designed the stages for some tours.
In several circumstances Keith Richards and Mick Jagger stated that Watts was the key member of the band and Richards even stated in an interview for Guitar Player in 2005 that the Rolling Stones would not be nor they could continue without Charlie Watts. In 1991 Bill Wyman left the band and after auditioning different bassists, it was Watts that chose the new one in Darryl Jones, previously a sideman for Sting and Miles Davis. Charlie Watts also holds a piece of the Rolling Stones corporate entities. The same thing can not be said for Ron Wood, Bill Wyman or Mick Taylor.
It is interesting that Watts is considered to be one of the most influential drummers of all time even if he does not consider himself so. Many young drummers have acknowledged the fact that Charlie Watts is a seminal influence to their own style of playing the drums. He was recognized for his skill in the July 2006 issue of Modern Drummer with inclusion into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame. Famous names are also on the list including Keith Moon, Steve Gadd and Buddy Rich.
Career Outside of The Rolling Stones
Charlie Watts was involved in different activities outside of the Rolling Stones. In 1964 he published a special cartoon tribute to Charlie Parker. The name of the cartoon was "Ode to a High Flying Bird". Also, even if he is renowned in rock music, his personal tastes turn towards jazz. In the late seventies he joined the band Rocket 88, together with Ian "Stu" Stewart. The band featured a lot of top jazz, rock and R&B musicians in UK and Charlie Watts toured the world in the 80s with a big band that had renowned members like Courtney Pine, Evan Parker and Jack Bruce. Another tribute to Charlie Parker was also organized in 1991 by Watts under the form of a jazz quintet. Eventually the Charlie Watts Quintet released Warm and Tender in 1993 and Long Ago And Far Away in 1996. These two records included a special collection of American Song Book standards and next came a collaboration with Jim Keltner on the Rolling Stones album "Bridges to Babylon". The link between Watts and Keltner eventually led to the launch of an instrumental/techno album called Charlie Watts/Jim Keltner Project. The year 2004 also saw one new record in Watts at Scott's, recorded with The Charlie Watts Tented at the famous jazz club in London, Ronnie Scott's.