Monday, June 2, 2008
Charlie Watts, the greatest drummer in the history of rock & roll, turns 67 today. Charlie was trained as a jazz drummer, of course, which I often thought accounted for his wizardry behind the skins in the world of rock music, but now I realize it's simpler than that: He's a genius. As early as "Time Is on My Side," you can hear that slightly-off-kilter beat, like a ship rolling in the sea, listing from side to side yet always in control.
I probably shouldn't say there's no other drummer in rock & roll who can do that, but I haven't heard the one who could, not to mention "Gimme Shelter," "Let It Bleed," &c. What separates the Stones from the competition is their rhythms, to the point where they could just give up writing songs, around the time of Some Girls, and just function as a rhythm section, riding grooves like "Shattered" into the Top Forty.
Bill Wyman retired, Mick Taylor quit, Brian Jones died, and the Stones soldiered on. But Charlie is one of the core, along with Mick and Keith; Keith says that the band would cease to exist if Charlie ever left - no matter how much he looks like David Brinkley.