CHARLIE WATTS, whose strong but unflashy drumming powered the Rolling Stones for over 50 years, died on Tuesday in London. He was 80. If you're not an NYT subscriber, here's an anecdote from Keith Richards which features therein. The Guardian has an obit, a profile, a critical look at his role in the Stones, and a life in pictures. And here are the obits in Rolling Stone and one filled with tributes at the NME. Here's a video of Watts talking mostly about his kit. Here's some isolated drum tracks. And here's how "Jumpin' Jack Flash" looked from his throne. With Mick and Keith out front, Charlie was truly underrated within the context of the Stones -- not just the jazz-influenced swing he brought to the band which is getting its due in the obits, but also the way he and original bassist Bill Wyman played in tension with each other, providing a friction you didn't hear anyplace else. And interviews made clear that Watts was fine being in the background (the anecdote linked above being a rare exception to the rule). He always thought of himself as a musician as opposed to a rock star, and the long-married Watts famously avoided groupies on the road. So there won't be any other "news" here today. I consider myself quite lucky to have seen him wield the sticks on the Tattoo You tour; his like will not pass this way again. Give the drummer some. BONUS: Here's the Political Beats survey of the Rolling Stones, Part 1 and Part 2, if you want to spend six hours immersed in the catalog of which Charlie watts was the foundation.
More tomorrow, barring the unforeseen.