Skip to main content

Mick Jagger hails Charlie Watts as “the heartbeat for The Rolling Stones”

Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones
(Image credit: Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)

Mick Jagger remembers late drummer Charlie Watts in a new interview, and describes him as being "the heartbeat" of The Rolling Stones.

Speaking with Howard Stern on September 29, Jagger shared fond memories of Watts and opened up about what he was like both as a person, and as an integral member within the band.

The Stones launched their North American tour on September 26, kicking off in St. Louis with a video tribute to Watts. During the interview, Stern points out that the footage shows Watts keeping a clean and steady beat, rather than presenting a spectacle of drum solos and complex fills. In response, Jagger muses, "Charlie was the heartbeat for the band, and also a very steady personality. 

"He was not to be perturbed. He was a very reliable person, wasn’t a diva — that’s the last thing you want in a drummer.” At this point Stern makes the humorous remark “Enough divas in that band", making the frontman laugh.

Elsewhere, Jagger goes on to explain how Watts' rock'n'roll drumming was inspired from jazz, praises Watts’ dry sense of humour and speaks of their relationship outside the Stones. 

“I miss Charlie because he had a great sense of humour and we also were, outside of the band, we used to hang out quite a lot and have interesting times" reveals Jagger. "We liked sports, we’d go to football, we’d go to cricket games, and we had other interests apart from music.”

Explaining what life for the band has been like without Watts around, Jagger says "Every time we get together now and rehearse, we say, ‘Oh, Charlie would say this, then he would do that.’

“We did so many shows with him and so many tours and so many recording sessions, it’s strange being without him." Referring to Watts pulling out of the band’s current tour prior to his death, Jagger continues, “And he said, when he was sick, he said, ‘You’ve gotta just carry on and do this tour. Don’t stop because of me.’ So we did.”

The Stones played their first show since the drummer's death on September 20, performing at a private party hosted by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and dedicating the evening to Watts. Speaking to the audience, Jagger said, "It’s a bit of a poignant night for us because it’s the first tour we’ve done in 59 years without our lovely Charlie Watts. We all miss Charlie so much. We miss him as a band, we miss him as friends on and off the stage.

"We’ve got so many memories of Charlie and I’m sure some of you who have seen us before have memories of Charlie as well. I hope you will remember him like we do. We’d like to dedicate this show to Charlie.”

Elizabeth Scarlett

Elizabeth (Lizzie) works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. When not writing, she enjoys music design and reading about rock’n’roll history, art and magic.