Sorry, Charlie – You Were a Great Drummer

In 1981, when Max Weinberg and I interviewed Charlie Watts in his New York City hotel room, Charlie seemed sad and, as a drummer, unfulfilled. He said anyone who said his drumming was great had no ears. Greatness, Charlie told us, resided at drumming levels above him.

Sometimes, he said, when he was onstage playing with the Stones he would close his eyes and dream he was playing at Birdland with Charlie Parker.

Years later it was great to hear about, and listen to, Charlie’s records with his own big jazz band. A dream fulfilled.

Reading a pop music newspaper on my junior high school bus is when I first saw photos of Charlie and the Rolling Stones. I’ve listen to his classic drumming on “Paint It Black,” “Honky Tonk Women,” and countless other records my whole life.

Sorry, Charlie. If great drumming is memorable drumming – you were a great drummer.

Yesterday and today, looking over the many posts from musicians sharing their impressions of Charlie Watts, it’s good to see Charlie so often smiling, the 1981 sadness I encountered long gone.

Rest in peace, Charlie.

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