Band member Keith Richards once said of Charlie Watts: “He’s less interested in what he plays than how he plays it. It places the snare backbeat in exactly the right place. work carelessly enough for its own sound to perfectly match the …

Band member Keith Richards once said of Charlie Watts: “He’s less interested in what he plays than how he plays it. It places the snare backbeat in exactly the right place. carelessly enough that its own sound merges completely into the dirty sounds of the guitar. Everything Charlie Watts plays is saturated with his swing. “

With Charlie Watts, you’d think he sort of got lost in the rock’n’roll circus. The Rolling Stones drummer had the charisma of an English gentleman, was always dressed discreetly and elegantly and was otherwise low-key. And he had a weakness for jazz, which he also played in groups, which made him a musical connoisseur.

The Briton died on Tuesday at the age of 80. “Charlie was a beloved husband, father and grandfather, and as a member of the Rolling Stones one of the greatest drummers of his generation,” said a statement from his agent Bernard Doherty that evening. Watts died peacefully with his family in a London hospital.

The news came as no total surprise, however: a few weeks ago, it became known that Watts was not due to be on his band’s next US tour. He was recovering from unspecified medical treatment, he said. The drummer had been a member of the Stones for almost 60 years – he joined the group six months after the group’s first appearance at the legendary Marquee Club in London on July 12, 1962.

Born on June 2, 1941 under the name of Charles Robert Watts in north London, the musician discovered his love for jazz and blues early on. His first drum kit was made from an old banjo – if you will, the start of a ten-year career and worldwide success with one of the oldest active rock bands of today. hui. Unlike singer Jagger and guitarist Richards, the drummer avoided the limelight and especially excess. And he united the group when the men in front fell out.

In the 1980s, however, Watts drank too much and drugged himself. In 2004, the former heavy smoker survived laryngeal cancer.

In his private life, he was always considered solid: even in wilder times, he is said to have stayed away from the many groupies that swarmed in the group. And since 1964, Watts had been married to the same woman – artist Shirley Watts, with whom he had an adult daughter.

In fact, the Rolling Stones should have given concerts at stadiums in the United States and Canada last summer. “We will see you very soon,” the group said. Now let’s see how things can go on for the band without their backbone. “Charlie is our engine,” his friend Ron Wood once said. “And we’re not going anywhere without our engine.”

With Charlie Watts, the Stones conquered rock Olympus with the Beatles. After a concert at the Waldbühne in West Berlin in 1965, there were riots and riots among the young fans. The SED newspaper “Neues Deutschland” was extremely shocked; the group was not allowed to be broadcast on GDR radio until the 1980s. Records with the group were also not released. When the band finally performed in front of East German fans at the Leipzig Central Stadium in 1995, the enthusiasm was all the greater.

“I thought the band was going to quit a few times. I used to think so after every tour,” Watts joked in an interview with the New Musical Express before the No Filter tour stopped in the UK. United three years ago. “I’ve had enough, that’s all.” He made no secret of the fact that he could never endure the rigors of long tours.

“Originally the Stones were just another band for me,” Watts told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “I assumed it would all be over after two years at the latest.” The starting point was a call from Alexis Korner: the influential blues musician had realized the drummer’s talent and was able to convince him to join his group Blues Incorporated, which also sometimes included the founders of the Stones, Jagger and Brian Jones. . After joining Blues Incorporated, Watts initially continued to work full time as a designer. His training as a graphic designer was also very useful to the musician afterwards. Watts designed the illustrations for the Stones albums and helped design the gigantic concert stages.

Besides Jagger and Keith Richards, Watts is the only member of the group to be heard on all of the Rolling Stones’ studio albums. Musically, he was mostly confined to his drums – he hardly wrote any songs. Nonetheless, he has become a legend of coolness and style sensibility – something few drummers have succeeded in achieving. He will miss the rock world a lot. (mq / dpa)