Due to Covid protocols, the Rolling Stones were unable to attend their late-drummer Charlie Watts‘ funeral in England last week. Watts died on August 24th at the age of 80 and had already announced he would be sitting out of the band’s upcoming, already-delayed North American tour. Watts, who joined the Stones in 1963, was laid to rest in a private ceremony in Devon.
Surviving Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and the rest of their touring band who are rehearsing in Boston, were unable to make the cross-Atlantic journey due to the spike in the delta variant. Longtime Keith Richards collaborator Steve Jordan — also known for his work on the original Saturday Night Live, the Blues Brothers, and the Late Night with David Letterman Band — will be sitting in for Charlie Watts on the upcoming dates.
The Stones’ late-’60s road manager Sam Cutler attended the service for Watts and told The London Standard, “It perfectly reflects the man he was, and I completely understand the choice that was made. He would have hated a fuss and the commotion that involving the public would have meant.”
Not too long ago, Charlie Watts told us that swing music held an important place in the sound and rhythm of rock n’ roll as we know today: “The rock n’ roll that I know, which is a natural progression in the history of swing dance music. It goes from Benny Goodman to Chuck Berry and the piano playing — which is what this band is based on, piano. And swing is a foundation. Y’know, Duke Ellington — ‘Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing’– that’s the same thing that Chuck Berry had.”
Watts admitted he never even considered the Rolling Stones to be an institution: “I don’t look at the Rolling Stones like that. Y’know, it just. . . they’re a group of people that I know that become the Rolling Stones when they get together. Y’know, something happens around us and happens when we play that is either magic, or (a) catastrophe — whichever way you look at it. It always has done and I assume it always will.”
The Rolling Stones kick off their next string of dates on September 26th in St. Louis at The Dome at America’s Center.