Charlie Watts, the drummer of the Rolling Stones, died today at the age of 80. He passed away peacefully in London, surrounded by his family.
This one is hitting me hard. Charlie Watts was one of my drumming heroes. He was also the underrated glue that held the Stones together, the steadying influence that controlled the chaos that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards released on stage. He was a key member of the band but, because he was so self-effacing, he was often underrated. In many ways, he was the perfect drummer. While the lead singer and the lead guitarist prowled the front of the stage, Watts stayed in the background and produced the beat that propelled the Stones’s best songs.
Not only was Charlie Watts one of the best drummer, he was also perhaps the best dressed drummer to ever grace the stage. By most accounts, Charlie Watts a gentlemen, through and through, one who stayed loyal to his wife despite the temptations of the road and who often viewed touring as member of the world’s most dangerous band with a bemused wit. Reportedly, he was the only member of the band to openly cry when they first learned that co-founder Brian Jones had drowned. In the documentary Gimme Shelter, while Mick Jagger remains detached while watching the Hell’s Angels kill Meredith Hunter while the Stones perform at the Altamont Free Concert, Watts is clearly upset by the violence unfolding on the monitors before him.
Last week was all about snow and sub-zero temperatures. This week, it’s projected to be unseasonably warm. As the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait a minute and it will change. This time, that minute took 7 days.
I guess it’s time to face the fact that this site is going to pretty much be a quarantine journal for the foreseeable future. As much as I would like to write about other things, everything is dominated by COVID-19 right now. I remember that, for years after 9-11, it was rare that anything happened that was not, in some way, compared to that terrible day in September. It will probably be the same with COVID-19.
I feel like I aged several years over the month of March. April probably won’t be much better. By the time this is over, I’ll probably feel like I’m old enough to start collection social security.
It’s going to be tough. There’s no point in pretending otherwise. I’m lucky enough to be sheltering-in-place with people who I love but I have family all over this country and I worry every day about them. I’m hoping that being able to write out my thoughts here online will help. I realize that these thoughts will probably only be read by a handful of people but that’s not a problem. Right now, I don’t need a big audience. I just need a place to vent.
Finally, Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne died today from the COVID-19. Among the songs he wrote was the title song for That Thing You Do, which I still consider to be one of the best rock and roll films of the 90s. Today, let’s end things with a little music:
I was sorry, today, to learn of the death of Rush’s drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart. I had heard that he was sick but it was still a shock to learn that he had passed away on January 7th.
I would be lying if I said I was a huge Rush fan, though I appreciated the fact that they were, from a political and philosophical standpoint, more interesting than many of the other bands of their era. However, when I was in college, my best friend Jay absolutely loved Rush. I spent the entire summer of 2003 hanging out at Jay’s house and, whenever I hear anything by Rush, my mind immediately flashes back to those days. Rush provided the soundtrack for one of the best summers of my life and for that I’m thankful.
49 years ago today, the world lost Janis Joplin. Here’s just a little from Janis:
In the mid-90s, they actually started to use Mercedes Benz in car commercials! Of course, the whole point of the song was that it was a waste of time to worry about whether or not you owned Mercedes Benz or whether your friends all drive Porches, just as it was foolish to ask the Lord to buy you “a color TV” or “a night on the town.” The song was sung from the point of view of someone who had been brainwashed by commercials and didn’t realize that there was more to life than possessions. For the commercials, they only used the opening and the final stanza of the song and they edited out everything else, turning the song into an ode to the joy of car ownership.
Though Joplin died of a heroin overdose in 1970, she has continued to inspire the singers who have come after her. She may be gone but her voice is immortal.
This is from the 5th Annual Saturn Awards, which were televised on January 14th, 1978. Was William Shatner having a laugh here or was he actually being serious? Shatner really didn’t start to actively parody his image until the late 80s so there’s a good chance that this is for real.