Joining the 'Stones in 1963 Charlie Watts has proven to be one of the most influential drummers of our time. For nearly four decades he has kept the heartbeat of "The Worlds Greatest Rock & Roll Band", and always from behind a four piece Gretsch drum kit.
As Charlie puts it,"I've always used Gretsch". "I still use the same one that Max Roach advertised you should buy, which was the soft tom-tom, bass drum, deep tom-tom, and a snare drum".
His success has come with the Rolling Stones yet he's considered a swing drummer by many of his peers. More recently, he has put together several successful solo project including a 32 piece big band and the Charlie Watts Quintet.
Charlie was born as Charles Robert Watts on 2 June, 1941. his father was a lorry driver for British Rail. Charlie attended Tylers Croft Secondary Modern School, and Harrow Art School. He worked for Charles Hobson and Gray, Advertising Agents.
Charlie Watts was working in a club called the Troubadour with a group called Blues By Five when he met Alexis Korner. He played with him before joining the Stones. Part of the dependable rhythm section, Charlie's first love, apart from suits, was jazz. He came into the band from Alexis Korner & Blues Incorporated.
Charlie soon fitted in and his contribution has been invaluable since. He shares a fondness of cricket with Mick and the two always plan the staging and design of tours together with a professional team. Charlie has a very good eye, and trained as a graphic artist before turning to music.
In 1964 with the Stones in full swing, he published 'Ode To A High Flying Bird' an amusing booklet of his cartoon drawings dedicated to Charlie Parker, then only appreciated by a few hip cats. Later in 1967 he drew a comic strip on the back of 'Between The Buttons'.
Charlie started playing drums well after the swing era had faded but in 1985 he realised a dream when he brought his own big band into Ronnie Scot's club; numbering some thirty players with three drummers it included saxophonists Don Weller, (known as sink a pint of Scotch by lunchtime), a young Courtney Pine and Jack Bruce on his first instrument, 'cello.
It was such fun that he took it to the U.S. the following year. "These guys I haven't played with for twenty years and I'm having as good a time as the audience" he said. He still plays very smoothly with the brushes, maybe something to do with his early liking for drummer Chico Hamilton.