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Charlie Is Our Darling

Charlie in the groove

Charlie Watts was the opposite of Keith Moon – while Keith sat at the back and smacked the Who into next week with a voracious pounding that plays like a blueprint for metal and all its offshoots, Charlie sat at the back and kept his eyes on not Bill, certainly not Mick, but Keith. It is one of three secrets to why Charlie, who died August 24th at the age of 80, was the hands down best drummer in rock and roll ever.

1 – He followed Keith instead of the band following him.

2 – He learnt the drums by playing along with jazz records. Which means he knew everything from syncopation to blues and martial beats. When he first learnt the blues he considered it slowed down Charlie Parker.

3 – Charlie’s stoic presence was an omnipotent centrifugal force with a minimum of force. Hitting the snare on 2nd and 4th beat, he would make the Watts move, take his left hand away from the drums and smack the snare with his right hand and with all his might. This gave the Stones a huge amount of punch in the pocket.

Charlie knew stuff he didn’t share and that meant he could find a groove in song after song with a minimum of fuss (if you can fade out everything but the drums on “Honky Tonk Women” you’ll hear it). Like Ringo Starr before him, he was comfortable in the background while the Glimmer Twins took up all the energy.

Charlie’s quietness was the antidote for the Stones craziness, his discipline freed everybody on 100s of songs. The loss of Charlie is the end of the 60s, the sort of giants that Western culture has no more.

1 Comment

  1. Britt Slocum on August 25, 2021 at 10:21 am

    You about nailed it. Thanks Iman, I’ll miss him. Quite the gut-punch to all of my drumming brethren. I’ll really miss not being able to see the greatest rhythm section in Rock and Roll history(Charlie and Keith) play together again.

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