Charlie Watts blamed Led Zeppelin for pushing the amount of time musicians were expected to play in concert. Billboard published excerpts from the new biography of the late-Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie’s Good Tonight: The Life, The Times, And The Rolling Stones: The Authorized Biography Of Charlie Watts by Paul Sexton. Charlie Watts died of cancer on August 24th, 2021 at the age of 80.
In the book, which was published today (October 11th), Watts is quoted as saying, “I blame Led Zeppelin for the two-hour-long show. Now, you see, we jumped in a few years from doing 20 minutes, all the hits and off — the Apollo Revue, we’ll call it — we went from doing club dates which are two sets a night, which was great fun, to doing two minutes, because you got pulled off the stage, to doing 20-minute Apollo-type shows to doing, thanks to Led Zeppelin, this two-hour long show.”
Watts went on to say, “If you’re Jimmy Page, you can do that, and (John) Bonham‘s 20-minute drum solo. It wasn’t about that with us, it was a different thing. I don’t like doing drum solos, period. I don’t hear things like that.”
Watt’s daughter Seraphina Watts shed light on her father’s behind the scenes creative work for the band’s tours and the design, construction, and presentation of their stages: “He was behind the creative process, that mega-touring, those stages, before U2, before any of those guys. Because of his design history, he did merchandising, designing of stages. Art direction, really. He was involved with the lighting, all the behind-the-scenes stuff. They have a really fantastic team and the same people (each time), and I don’t think people know quite how involved he was.”
Charlie’s Good Tonight includes forewords by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, along with new interviews with the pair, as well as Ron Wood, Bill Wyman, and many of Watts’ family members, friends, and colleagues.
In 2019, Charlie Watts sat down with Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ sticksman Chad Smith for an interview for Drumchannel.com. Although born in 1941 and perfectly situated to be among the millions of British teens to fall under the spell of rock n’ roll, Charlie Watts revealed to Smith that it was only in the early-1960’s though Stones co-founders Brian Jones and Keith Richards that he was able to find his way to rock via their blues infatuations: “Brian and Keith — Brian Jones and Keith used to play Jimmy Reed all day on the little machine — well they actually had a big radiogram — it was the same as playing jazz. It was another drum thing. I learned to play by watching people. If you were playing, I’d be up there watching you. . . how to play this, that, and the other. All those guys, y’know, D.J. Fontana, who probably plays some of the best — what’s termed rock n’ roll — y’know, ‘Hound Dog’ and all those things, they’re fantastic. It’s like a swing drummer, actually. And you watch him with Elvis (Presley), he’s (laughs) playing. . . it’s all one thing.”