Today is his 78th birthday!…
Happy birthday dearest Charlie, love Mick. pic.twitter.com/uuP6qGMBOo
As a drummer myself, I’ve always been a major fan of his unique style behind the four piece, and given the huge set of songs that went on to be the biggest hits in rock n’ roll, there’s no denying that Watts’ playing has had a huge effect on rock music.
— The Rolling Stones (@RollingStones) June 2, 2019
This band incorporated so many other styles into the Blues early that Charlie had to deliver on what was promised in the vocals, sometimes a funky good time, sometimes a somber blues vamp, sometimes a heroin soaked jam session. He does it all.
Here’s five videos that show what a genius he really is and a few clips of the master at work…
1“Jumping Jack Flash” from Charlie’s angle
I love how this video shows how live they really are when they play. They’ve never relied on click tracks or a backing army of musicians worried about keeping a perfect clock. Nope, they’ve always been raw and live when they play, even to huge crowds. This video even has the rare mis-hit on one of the snares. Happens to the best of us.
2Chilling in the pocket on “Monkey Man”
Their big mega tours require multi-cam shots just to show the audience what they’re actually doing up there (bring binoculars to their shows if you’re smart!), so this video showing Charlie just laying back in the pocket on a swingy “Monkey Man” is a treat for music fans.
3“I learned by watching”
Perhaps the thing that gets critiqued the most about Charlie Watts is indeed his unique style, that way he pulls off the hi-hat note when he lands on a snare on his 2 & 4 count. In this video he explains why he knows that may be one of his biggest weaknesses, but as we know it now none of those famous Rolling Stones songs would sound the same.
This video features a wonderfully jazzy version of “Miss You” with Bernard Fowler on vocals, too. Plus it’s incredible to hear that techno might have even influenced how he plays that tune live as it’s “a dance tune.”
4The Tami Show 1964
This new-to-YouTube videos shows Charlie backing the Rolling Stones’ earliest version and incarnation, ripping through 13 minutes of blues roots with “Around and Around,” “Off The Hook,” “Time Is On My Side,” “It’s All Over Now” into a grand finale.
5“Happy Birthday, Charlie” (Live 2018)
Just last year, The Rolling Stones were on stage and performing the day of Charlie’s birthday, and this year before their unfortunate tour cancellation due to Mick Jagger’s little heart surgery, the band had planned to be out there now just finishing up their spring 2019 tour.
Well that got pushed to this summer (tour kicks off later this month), which you can try to get tickets for (if you’re lucky), but ahead of that, go ahead and click play above on the video from Mick Jagger wishing Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts BOTH a well-deserved happy birthday before the crowd sings-a-long and Watts walks back to the kit with a nice little hug from Keith Richards.
Okay so that doesn’t fully highlight his musical genius or anything, but it’s a fun video close with.
Happy Birthday, Charlie!