Charlie Watts, the legendary drummer for The Rolling Stones, sadly passed away yesterday, August 24th, at the age of 80. Tributes have been understandably been flooding in, memories swapped, anecdotes shared.
One of the best remembrances, though, has dominated social media, reminding us all of the difficulties of being in a band, even if they’re one of the greatest of all time.
As per Consequence of Sound, the moment when Watts punched Mick Jagger has become a fond talking point online since his death. The anecdote comes from the Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards, who detailed the incident in his 2010 autobiography Life. It took place in 1984, when Jagger was one of the most famous faces in the world. Watts, hilariously, didn’t care one bit.
“There was a rare moment, in late 1984, of Charlie throwing his drummer’s punch – a punch I’ve seen a couple of times and it’s lethal; it carries a lot of balance and timing,” Richards wrote. “He has to be badly provoked. He threw this one at Mick.
Richards and Jagger had just arrived back from a night out in Amsterdam when Jagger called Watts, demanding, “Where’s my drummer?” Although there was no answer on the other end of the line, that wasn’t the end of it. “Mick and I were still sitting there, pretty pissed…when, about twenty minutes later, there was a knock at the door. There was Charlie Watts,” Richards said, recalling Watts as being dressed in a “Savile Row suit…tie, shaved, the whole fucking bit.”
“I opened the door and he didn’t even look at me, he walked straight past me, got hold of Mick and said, ‘Never call me your drummer again,'” Richards continued. “Then he hauled him up by the lapels of my jacket and gave him a right hook.
“Mick fell back onto a silver platter of smoked salmon on the table and began to slide towards the open window and the canal below it. And I was thinking, this is a good one, and then I realized it was my wedding jacket. And I grabbed hold of it and caught Mick just before he slid into the Amsterdam canal.”
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Watts also wasn’t done there, which required Richards to intervene to prevent further damage. “It took me twenty-four hours after that to talk Charlie down,” he said. “I thought I’d done it when I took him up to his room, but twelve hours later, he was saying, ‘Fuck it, I’m gonna go down and do it again.’ It takes a lot to wind that man up.”
Music lost a great character this week. Long live Charlie Watts.
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