Why Rolling Stone Charlie Watts never had a drum kit at home

9 July 2022, 19:00

Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones performing live in 2010
Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones performing live in 2010. Picture: Howard Denner/Photoshot/Getty Images

The world was loving the late Stones drummer playing "air drums" during lockdown - but there's a valid reason why he didn't have a real set.

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts died in August 2021, aged 80. He was one of the original members of the classic British band and had appeared on every one of their 23 studio albums.

He was a unique character - and the world was delighted when the band performed a classic hit for the One World: Together At Home gig during the lockdown in April 2020.

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Watts all called in to the charity event, organised by Lady Gaga in conjunction with Global Citizen and the World Health Organisation.

Performing individually from their own homes via webcam, the veteran band played their 1969 classic You Can't Always Get What You Want.

The Rolling Stones perform "You Can't Always Get What You Want" | | One World: Together At Home

Fans were amused to see Watts use a suitcase and the side of a chair to "air drum" his part on the classic song - playing along to a pre-recorded drum track.

"Charlie Watts happily playing air drums for The Rolling Stones is the kind of feel-good content we need," tweeted one.

Some wondered why the legendary drummer wasn't using real drums. "Very much enjoying that Charlie Watts spent his entire life as the drummer for The Rolling Stones and apparently doesn’t have a set of drums in his house," was one typical tweet.

But there's a reason why Charlie couldn't drum at home - his wife hated the noise, therefore he could only play drums when he was on tour.

In 1989, he explained his predicament in an interview: "Because of what I do I can't play the drums at home so to play the drums I have to go on the road, and to go on the road I have to leave home and it's like a terribly vicious circle that's always been my life.

"I don't like living out of suitcases. I hate being away from home. I always do tours thinking they're the last one, and at the end of them I always leave the band."

Charlie Watts in the drummer's seat for the Stones' 1969 North American tour
Charlie Watts in the drummer's seat for the Stones' 1969 North American tour. Picture: United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

He also told The Guardian in 2000 that the touring life caused issues with his daughter Serafina. "It's difficult to be a good father when you're away from home so much," he mused.

Charlie had stepped down from performing on the Stones' 13-date No Filter tour, which is set to kick off in St Louis on 26 September. In a statement, the band said that the drummer had undergone "a procedure which was completely successful", but needed time to recuperate.

Watts said in a statement: “For once my timing has been a little off."

Performing at the shows in his place has been Steve Jordan, who played in guitarist Keith Richards’ side project X-Pensive Winos.

Charlie Watts: 1941-2021


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