Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones pay tribute to late drummer Charlie Watts as legendary band perform an impromptu jam at his favourite London jazz club

  • The band were joined by Charlie’s oldest friend and collaborator Dave Green, plus Ben Waters, and Axel Zwingenberger on stage at Ronnie Scott’s
  • Saxophonist Tim Ries had prepared a special piece for the late drummer titled Blues For Charlie, while Lisa Fischer sang Trouble On My Mind
  • The Stones wrapped the evening with R&B standards Shame Shame Shame and Down the Road Apiece
  • Former band-mate Bill Wyman was also in attendance for the one-off performance after arriving with his wife Suzanne   

The Rolling Stones honoured their late drummer Charlie Watts with an intimate gig at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London’s Soho this week, almost four months after his death .

Rock veterans Sir Mick Jagger, 78, Keith Richards, 77, and Ronnie Wood, 74, reunited with former bassist Bill Wyman, 85, to salute the musician – who passed away in August aged 80 – at a special concert hosted by Jools Holland.

The band were joined by Charlie’s oldest friend and collaborator Dave Green, plus Ben Waters, and Axel Zwingenberger on stage at the venue – a personal favourite of Charlie’s, who passed away in August

Tribute: The Rolling Stones honoured their late drummer Charlie Watts with an intimate gig at Ronnie Scott’s in Soho this week (pictured: Sir Mick Jagger)
Tribute: The Rolling Stones honoured their late drummer Charlie Watts with an intimate gig at Ronnie Scott’s in Soho this week (pictured: Sir Mick Jagger)

Saxophonist Tim Ries had prepared a special piece for the late drummer titled Blues For Charlie, while Lisa Fischer sang Trouble On My Mind and a duet of gospel track Up Above My Head with Bernard Fowler.

The Stones wrapped the evening with R&B standards Shame Shame Shame and Down the Road Apiece.

Along with Jagger and Richards, Watts featured on every one of the band’s studio albums. He was widely regarded as one of the greatest drummers of all time.

Known for his deadpan wit, understated conversational style and love of tailored suits, his low-key style was much at odds with the flamboyant lifestyle of band mates such as Jagger and Richards.

Make way: Keith Richards was seen making his way into the legendary Soho venue ahead of the performance
Make way: Keith Richards was seen making his way into the legendary Soho venue ahead of the performance 

He had one wife, Shirley, with whom who he married in 1964 before the band shot to superstardom. The couple, who lived together in a rural village in Devon, last year rescued a greyhound from an Oxford animal sanctuary.

Watts was due to tour the US with the band later this year as part of their ‘No Filter’ tour. But it was announced earlier this month he would not feature as he needed to recover from a recent emergency surgery.

He is the first long-stay member of The Rolling Stones to die of age-related illness. Founder and leader of The Stones, Jones, died in 1969 from accidental drowning, shortly after being kicked out of the band.

Tragic: Charlie Watts died at the age of 80 in August, but his memory lived on during the band's performance this week

The impromptu gig comes after Mick admitted he found it “very cathartic” to get back on stage following the passing of his friend and bandmate.

Speaking after they kicked off their North American No Filter tour, their first shows without Charlie, the singer insisted that while it was “sad” to be on stage without him, it was a “really good” way to release some of their bottled-up emotions.

He said in September: ‘We were supposed to have played last year. We couldn’t do it for obvious reasons, because of the pandemic. And I just thought, and I think everyone in the band thought that we should just carry on.

‘After doing the first couple of shows, I think I feel really good about it. But I’m glad we’re doing it. I know Charlie wanted us to do it. I think the audience wants to do it. They seem to.

In good company: Guitarist Ronnie Wood was joined by wife Sally outside the London venue

‘And of course, it’s different, and of course, in some ways it’s sad and so on. But I mean, you just go out there and rock out and you feel better, and it’s very cathartic.  So, I think it’s really good.’ 

Mick also revealed he misses joking with Charlie as he reflected on the recent time they spent together in the studio before his passing.

He added: ‘It seems like only yesterday that I was in the studio with Charlie, joshing around. It’s just so weird and then very sad. 

The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts died at the age of 80 in August

‘And I mean, it’s such a long time that you work with someone like that, and you get to know someone so well and their quirks and their idiosyncrasies and they know yours.

‘And there’s a language in communication with musicians, obviously, or anything else. So, you talk about it. It’s difficult talking about music. 

‘But so, after all this length of time, you have this ease of communication, so to speak with another musician. That’s very rare. I miss that so much.’ 

The iconic band opened their No Filter tour with a special tribute to Charlie in St. Louis.

The gig started with an empty stage, a drum beat and photos of the late star appearing on a video board.

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