Charlie Watts is one of the most unusual rock megastars of all time, in that he just seems like a normal guy. He has been tagged with the term ‘enigmatic’ purely for averting the spotlight where possible.
When the sticksmith is not with the Stones, he lives an eclectic life. He is also the leader of a jazz band, a record producer, commercial artist, and horse breeder. His love of jazz was in place from an early age, a time when Watts’ parents gifted him with his first drum kit in 1955. Aged just 14-years-old, he would practice by drumming along with the jazz records that he collected.
The record that laid down the jazz groove and infused his music blood, was the very first one that he bought. Watts told BBC Radio 6 Music, “The first record that was mine that I fell in love with was a thing called Flamingo by a saxophone player called Earl Bostic.”
“I was into jazz straight away,” he added. “That was my uncle’s. Then, soon after that, I bought a record called Walkin’ Shoes by Gerry Mulligan.” And thereafter the legendary beatmaker was hooked. This presiding jazz influence has remained throughout his work and unique styling has permeated every Rolling Stones record with an instantly recognisable drum sound, as Dave Grohl once said, “[Watts] is one of those drummers that if you hear 15 seconds of [a] recording, you’ll know who it is and that to me has always been the gold standard.”
Describing his first beloved record a little further Watts added, “Earl Bostic was a sort of R&B jazz player and Gerry Mulligan was out and out jazz. I don’t know why, but I was into jazz straight away. Soon after that I heard Charlie Parker and I loved it and I still do.”
The iconic drummer then concluded, “I still listen to the same records that I played back then. They have the same emotions for me. I love hearing Gerry Mulligan’s band of ’54.”
You can check out the lounging horn-led jazz track, below.