The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé!: Concert performance teaser
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Charlie Watts has been an integral member of The Rolling Stones for many years. The drums provide the backbone to any song, and his work has seen Modern Drummer induct him into their hall of fame. But how long has Charlie Watts actually been in the band, and is he a founder?
Contrary to popular belief, Charlie Watts was not a founder of The Rolling Stones.
Given his name is synonymous with the band’s many have assumed this was where he started.
However, Charlie was in another band before he joined The Rolling Stones, who had already begun to form at the time.
Charlie was born in London on June 2, 1941, and grew up in Wembley near jazz musician Dave Green, with whom Charlie played some early gigs.
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Charlie and Dave used to play jazz records together in Charlie’s room, and at the age of 13 he started playing the drums and was given his first drum kit in 1955.
The drummer would play along with the records he owned in the evenings after school, but attended Harrow Art School until 1960, where he learned how to do graphic design.
He worked in this field for an advertising company, but would still play drums with local bands, as well as performing with Dave in 1958 and 1959.
Charlie transitioned to more rhythm and blues music, telling The New Yorker: “I went into rhythm and blues. When they asked me to play, I didn’t know what it was. I thought it meant Charlie Parker, played slow.”
In 1961 he met Alexis Korner, the founder of band Blues Incorporated, which once also included Brian Jones and Ian Stewart.
He kept a job at an advertising company doing graphic design while he played with Alexis, and in 1962 he met his future Rolling Stones colleagues.
However, it was Brian who brought the original group together after he advertised for new bandmates, which saw Sir Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ian reply.
For a while, the band had a few different drummers keeping them afloat, but they always wanted Charlie to come and join them.
In the end, in January 1963, about six months after the band formed, Charlie joined the group and has remained with the band until the present day.
Other than Keith and Sir Mick, Charlie is one of the only early members to still be part of the band, though he is not considered to be a founder of the group.
One thing which sets Charlie apart from his band members is his activities outside of the band, which have been many and varied.
At first, he contributed graphic art to records from the band, including the Between the Buttons record sleeve and the tour announcement in New York City in 1975.
He and Sir Mick also designed elaborate stages for their tours, with Charlie’s graphic skills coming in handy.
Charlie has made various comic strips, including Ode to a High Flying Bird in tribute to Charlie Parker, who was truly a love of his from the early days.
He performed in jazz troupes throughout his career with the Rolling Stones, even organising a tribute to Charlie Parker in 1991 and forming a quintet and a tentet to perform around the world, most prominently at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club.
In his private life, Charlie married his wife Shirley before the band became famous, on October 14, 1964.
They have one daughter, Seraphina, who was born in March 1968.
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