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Nick Cave remembers Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts

Following the passing of Charlie Watts last week, many fellow musicians have paid tribute to the former Rolling Stones man. Nick Cave is the latest to join them with a charming anecdote of his own. 

Watts being renowned for his professionalism within a notoriously unruly group, this tale, naturally, starts with a pre-tour workout routine as Cave was asked via his Red Hand Files forum if he ever works out before heading off on the road. 

“About ten years ago I decided it might be a good idea to get in shape for an upcoming tour,” he began with an interesting use of the word might as though getting healthy could have some drawbacks. “I had never trained or even entered a gym before and I also didn’t have any kit, and so, in preparation, I ordered a tracksuit from Amazon.”

He continues: “When it arrived the tracksuit was very small — I think it was actually a child’s size. I had forgotten to order trainers but found an old pair of giant white sneakers that had belonged to one of the kids. As I left the house for my first session at the gym I was aware that I looked ridiculous and so I stuck on a bucket hat that was lying around in an effort to disguise myself.”

On his way home from the session which he describes as “the most punishing hour of his life,” he realised he had to pick his wife Susie up from the airport and had no time to change. 

At the airport, he continues: “I needed to have a piss so I stopped at the bathrooms and as I walked back out, in my tiny tracksuit, my giant white trainers and my bucket hat, there, walking toward me, was Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones. He had silver hair and was dressed in an elegant pearl-grey three piece suit, a button down checked shirt and a tie.”

Adding: “He literally glowed with a kind of inner serenity, and as we passed each other we locked eyes for a moment and he smiled at me — not an unkind smile, but not a kind one either, rather the impassive look one animal might give to another in the wild, that signalled their complete and total supremacy.” Or otherwise the sort of look an ex might give you when they inevitably see you at your most inopportune. 

Cave the concludes: “As I watched Charlie Watts disappear into the crowd, I rearranged my bucket hat, and thought, ‘There goes a truly great drummer’, which is what I thought when I heard the news this week of his passing — ‘There goes a truly great drummer’.”

Charlie Watts: 2 June 1941 – 24 August 2021.

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