It Was A Sad Day When Charlie Watts Passed Away

© Ursula Düren/dpa

The 24th of August, 2021 was a sad day for millions of people, mostly baby boomers such as myself, because Charlie Watts, the drummer of The Rolling Stones, left this mortal coil on that date. I felt as if I was gut-punched when I read the news. And I shed a few tears too. The backbone and heartbeat of one of my favorite bands, he was in my life for nearly 60 years, though of course I didn’t know him. And now he’s gone.

Charlie Watts lived to the nicely ripe old age of 80. Still, his death came unexpectedly, at least to the public, seeing that he had been gearing up, initially, to join his fellow Stones (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood) on a stadium tour of the States this autumn.

But in early August, about two weeks after the tour was announced, he bowed out due to health issues. With his OK, a temporary replacement drummer was hired. The expectation was for Charlie, after a period of recuperation, to be back on his drum stool next year and beyond, pounding away on the skins and cymbals. And why think otherwise? I mean, the Stones seemed to be eternal, powering down the rock and roll highway since the early 1960s.

Well, the remaining Stones, though shaken to their bones I’m sure, are going ahead with the tour (it begins on September 26). This doesn’t seem right to me. Charlie Watts was a fixture, an icon. Cool, calm and collected, he was as important to the band as Jagger and Richards. Can The Rolling Stones really be The Rolling Stones without Charlie Watts in their future? The answer, I believe, is a profound no.

Charlie’s passing nearly marks the end of an era for me, which is not a happy realization. That’s because he was one of my musical heroes, a direct link to my young and innocent days. Few of my musical heroes remain among us. What’s more, his death stopped me in my tracks, causing me to ponder a subject that I don’t enjoy. Namely, the final curtain. My final curtain, to be precise.

Yeah, we all know that our ends are coming. Their arrival dates are up in the air, sure, but arrive they eventually will. Yet, you know what? As old as I’ve become — I’m well into my 70s — I still find it kind of hard to believe that my days are diminishing, that there are far more grains of sand at the bottom of my hourglass than there are at its top. Shit, I’d like to go on forever. That would be cool, especially if famine, violence, intolerance, etc. weren’t part of the picture. Alas, the game is designed way differently. What a f*cking, f*cking drag.

And we all also know that we should make good use of our time, an irreplaceable commodity. Helping others and being kind, loving and trustworthy are paramount. Obviously. Absolutely. And not far behind, for some of us, is grooving in the arms of music, something that I’ve been doing for a long, long time and have no plans to stop. It’s liberating and mind-expanding, taking me to planes that I don’t otherwise visit. Charlie Watts has aided me in this pursuit over the years.

On that note I’ll leave you with a beautiful song, released in 1974, from The Rolling Stones catalog: Time Waits For No One, a Jagger and Richards composition. Time Waits For No One laments life’s fleetingness, life’s finiteness. Even so, Jagger, Richards and Watts , who were young when they and the other Stones at the time (Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor) put the song on wax, probably would have been amazed back then to learn that their common journey was destined to continue for decades more (Wyman and Taylor left the group ages ago. Wood signed up in 1975). As you listen, focus on Charlie Watts’ drum work. It is precise and gripping. He and his mates will carry you away.

138 thoughts on “It Was A Sad Day When Charlie Watts Passed Away

  1. D. Wallace Peach September 5, 2021 / 1:46 pm

    What a lovely post, Neil. And a sad day for us boomers who grew up on the Stones. My husband and I think about our mortality more and more. I love your statement: “And we all also know that we should make good use of our time, an irreplaceable commodity. Helping others and being kind, loving and trustworthy are paramount.” That’s style, my friend. Keep on grooving to the music.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 5, 2021 / 4:45 pm

      Yeah, we do what we can while we’re here. And hopefully we make a positive impact. Thanks for weighing in, Diana. Appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. rkrontheroad September 5, 2021 / 1:51 pm

    Whoever would have thought the Rolling Stones would still be out there rocking into their senior years? This was a fine tribute. Thanks for the motivational thoughts as we all keep chugging along.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave September 6, 2021 / 11:48 am

    Agree with you when you say you’re conflicted about the Stones touring with one less, Neil. Not the same. It’s almost like a band (the Beatles, say), where one of them (McCartney) goes solo. Just doesn’t feel quite right. Having said that, it’s remarkable the Stones are still together after all this time, let alone performing. Eternal indeed. Drum in peace, Charlie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 6, 2021 / 2:14 pm

      You’re right about their longevity. It’s amazing. Even though they’ve had a few personnel changes over the years, Watts/Richards/Jagger had been together since 1963. Thanks for your input, Dave. See ya.


      • Pam Lazos September 9, 2021 / 9:40 pm

        My husband is mourning him over here, too, Neil. Lots of Stones playing at our house these last days as well as documentaries about the band. The end of an era. Wonder who will replace him, if anyone. My neighbor happens to be the sound engineer for the Stones but I haven’t seen him to ask what’s up.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, Another Blogger September 9, 2021 / 10:37 pm

          Watts had an operation of some kind after the upcoming tour was announced, so he bowed out of the tour rather than have the tour cancelled or postponed (the tour starts later this month). A drummer named Steve Jordan was hired for this tour, but not as a permanent replacement. With Charlie now gone, the question is whether the band will continue after this tour ends. If they do, then I suppose that SJ will remain as the drummer.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Pam Lazos September 10, 2021 / 11:00 pm

            I’ve heard them say that they need to keep playing as long as they can because they employ so many people and feel an obligation. Plus our neighbor says that all Mick does is dance and drink water. He’s got no other vices left!

            Liked by 1 person

  4. chattykerry September 13, 2021 / 4:49 pm

    I was both happy and sad to hear of his death. He had a remarkably long life for a rocker of that era and one happy marriage. It certainly makes me feel my age as I had a crush on a boy who looked like Mick Jagger at my college. I do not want to live forever but haven’t yet decided what would be a good end date…😁 The fates will decide and I will acquiesce.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 25, 2021 / 9:13 am

      Hi, and thanks. Charlie’s passing is a stunning, sobering loss. Take care. By the way, I’m going to follow your blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Russell Gayer October 1, 2021 / 8:53 am

    Lovely post. Like you, I’ve been a Stones fan since the 60s. I was also a big Cream fan and it broke my heart when Jack Bruce passed away. Each death reminds me of my own mortality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 1, 2021 / 12:37 pm

      Hi, Russell. Mortality is a depressing fact of life. I felt bad about Jack Bruce’s passing too. And so many others. Joe Cocker, David Bowie, Nancy Griffith, to name a few.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. giacomoasinello October 5, 2021 / 6:47 am

    So glad I got to see them. Charlie always struck me as a very sweet man. I support the Stones’ decision to finish the tour without him, as a tribute – but that should be it. No more tours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 5, 2021 / 8:36 am

      Hi. I agree. But I’ve read comments from Jagger, and I get the impression that they want to continue beyond this tour.

      Liked by 1 person

      • giacomoasinello October 5, 2021 / 9:08 am

        Probably just can’t stand the thought of life without the high of performing live I suppose.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Silver Screenings October 17, 2021 / 6:25 pm

    Beautifully written. It’s wistful and sad, but I also see gratitude for the music and wonderful memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 17, 2021 / 8:53 pm

      Hi, Ruth. Charlie’s death saddened a lot of people. A few days ago I heard a radio DJ say that his passing left a hole in her heart.

      Liked by 1 person

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