10 Things You Didn’t Know About Charlie Watts
The late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts managed to live a relatively quiet life outside of the spotlight, despite being in one of the biggest bands in rock 'n' roll history. But that doesn't mean it wasn't filled with plenty of interesting tidbits. See for yourself, as we present 10 Things You Didn't Know About Charlie Watts:
Watts was a graphic designer prior to joining the Rolling Stones.
Watts worked as a graphic designer in Denmark and then at the British advertising agency Charles, Hobson and Grey before joining the Rolling Stones. He used those skills to help design the sets for several of the Stones' tours, as well as a few of their early album sleeves.
He played in the group Blues Incorporated, which featured a cast of future rock legends.
Watts was earlier part of an outfit called Blues Incorporated, led by influential musician Alexis Korner. He played alongside future Cream bassist Jack Bruce, and was replaced by future Cream drummer Ginger Baker when he joined the Stones.
Watts had been married to the same woman since 1964.
Watts married Shirley Ann Shepherd in 1964, and they had one daughter, Serafina. While his bandmates partied on the road, Watts remained faithful to Shirley. However, he had trouble sleeping in hotel rooms without the comfort of her being next to him.
He consistently sketched each hotel room he stayed in while on tour.
Watts once told an interviewer that he has a habit of sketching each hotel room in which he stayed. Watts didn't give a reason for the compulsive behavior, but apparently he held on to all of the renderings. Perhaps, they'll make a good coffee-table book someday.
Sure, he's rock royalty, but Watts' true passion is jazz and big band music.
Watts always professed his love for jazz music, even penning an illustrated tribute to Charlie Parker. He formed a number of jazz, boogie-woogie and big band outfits, including Rocket 88, the Charlie Watts Quintet and the Charlie Watts Tentet.
A 'midlife crisis' led Watts to a bout with drugs and alcohol in the '80s.
Despite living a relatively clean life, Watts did have a period in the '80s when he had a serious drug and alcohol problem. He attributed the spell to a midlife crisis that resulted from a feeling of panic. Watts went cold turkey after he broke his ankle in a drunken stupor.
He chose the Rolling Stones' new bass player after Bill Wyman left.
The Rolling Stones were forced to hold auditions for a new bassist after Bill Wyman left the group in 1993. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards left the decision up to Watts, who ultimately chose Darryl Jones to replace Wyman. Jones had played with such acts as Miles Davis and Sting.
He and his wife owned a horse-breeding farm.
Watts and his wife, Shirley, owned a farm on which they bred Arabian horses in Devonshire, England. One reason that Watts wasn't always thrilled with touring is that he did not like leaving the farm for long periods of time. The couple also took in a number of rescued greyhound dogs over the years.
He battled throat cancer in 2004.
Watts revealed a bout with throat cancer in 2004. He'd quit smoking when he gave up drugs and alcohol in the '80s, but nevertheless underwent a course of radiotherapy. The cancer later went into remission.
Watts punched Mick Jagger in the face for calling him 'my drummer.'
Richards told Esquire magazine that Jagger once pushed the mild-mannered Watts over the edge. Jagger, after a few drinks in a hotel, phoned Watts and asked, "Is my drummer there?" Watts, dressed in a full suit, knocked on Jagger's door, told him "Don't ever call me your drummer," and decked him in the face.