Jun 022021

This is an excellent opportunity for me to restate that I believe the Charlie Watts Hoax is a Hoax! Put aside Jimmy Miller’s drumming on a few tracksssss on Let it Bleed and Exile. It plainly doesn’t matter if he was out to lunch during the Undercover-Dirty Work era. During the truly crucial years of the Rolling Stones (1964-1981, let’s say), Charlie Watts played drums on probably 98% of their recordings. PROVE ME WRONG!


  19 Responses to “Happy 80th Birthday, Charlie Watts!”

  1. Everyone knows Bernard Purdie was The Stones drummer.

  2. Chicken, this sounds like some lashing out by a butthurt Beatles fan who can’t deal with reality.

  3. I had no idea there was a Charlie hoax theory, by the way.

    I’ve probably posted this before but here’s the footage from the camera that was on Charlie during All Down the Line when Martin Scorsese was filming his concert movie:


    I love seeing the song from his vantage point and the look he gives the camera at the end is priceless.

  4. Man, that’s cool. Quick observations: Love the economy of his kit; it’s tiny. Why is one of the mic stands with the picks sticking out left there when it’s not in use? Is the stage really that small? You could have replaced Mick with Martin Short’s Ed Grimley character and no one might have noticed. Put four of those Stones on a scale and it’s probably not hitting 500 pounds.

  5. I finally watched the movie about a month ago and it was great. The stage is small because it’s at the Beacon which I think is roughly the size of the Tower. I don’t disagree about the Ed Grimley comment but over the years I have an increasing appreciation for Mick. He really kept the whole thing running over the years. I think his efforts allowed Keith the luxury of being Keith and as his reward, he gets goofed on for not being as cool as Keith.

    And I agree, the small kit is awesome.

  6. Haha, I just googled Charlie Watts Hoax because I was unfamiliar with it and the first and only thing that came up was the Mod perpetrating this nonsense on this very site.

  7. How can you prove that the hoax is a hoax when you can’t first disprove the hoax?

    Thank you for that hearty laugh, Oats. This is the true meaning of Rock Town Hall. I’ll dig back into my files and share some more proof that Watts either didn’t drum on many of the early Stones’ records (ie, Brian Jones era) or an Imposter Watts joined the band around the time of Exile.

  8. OK, I probably presented this as evidence years ago, but since that time there are a dozen more commercially available (on Spotify) versions of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” available. Listen to the original single. Whoever is drumming is not a technical wizard, but he knows how to articulate the snare from the groovy kick. It could be Mick Avory rocking that beat. Listen to any of the 2 dozen live versions on Spotify, including the one the opens Get Your Ya-Ya’s, and it sounds like the guy who didn’t make the cut for your high school band. HOAX!

  9. PS – I summon any drummers or drum experts in the Hall, such as andyr, to show me connections between the drummer on almost any Brian Jones-era hit and the real Charlie Watts who would emerge in live recordings and albums from Some Girls on.

    To his credit, I am certain Watts lays down the most beautiful snare hits ever put to tape on both studio and live versions of “Beast of Burden.”

  10. cherguevara

    I swear I once saw an episode of the Letterman show where Watts and his big band were guests, but they left the building after a soundcheck and flaked by not returning. If I’m not mixed up, Gary Busey was a guest,.so he filled the time doing a Buddy Holly number with the band. Did anyone else see this?

  11. Cher, your story is confirmed!


    This definitely adds credence to the veracity of the hoax.

  12. This interview is better than Spinal Tap boiled down to its essence.


  13. cherguevara

    Ah! Of course it was not explained that way on the show, I remember Letterman passing it off more as, “that wacky rock and roll legend is on another planet!” I hated that they did that on the show, reducing band members to side-players in their own group. I’m glad they ditched that approach in later years, but they did it for a long time.

    Are there any contemporary drummers who play with the jazz-influenced touch of those early rock and rollers? I really like that style of drummer – Hugh Grundy of the Zombies is another one of that ilk I really like. I think now the jazz-influenced drummers are more fusiony or heavy handed, like a Bill Bruford or overplaying dude from Dave Matthews band who must play four Weckls to the bar.

    Watts just seems like one of the most wonderfully quirky guys in rock. I also remember an article in Musician magazine where it was said that he never changed his drum heads, and there was still confetti between the heads and the rims from some show back in the late 60’s. And he signs autographs as “Charlie Boy?”

    And of course there’s this story of Watts punching Jagger for calling him, “my drummer.”
    This telling doesn’t make clear if Watts was awake at 5am when Jagger called his room, or if, as some tellings go, he woke up and put on a suit expressly to punch Jagger.

    Maybe this is all old-hat to the serious RS fans.

  14. I remember that Letterman episode, cher. (I was looking for it for this post, but it’s not online.) I was in my early teens and loved Dave’s smartass weirdo persona. I fondly recall him doing a terrible Charlie impression saying “I’m going someplace else.”

    My response to Mr. Mod is as follows:

    I don’t think a single member of the Rolling Stones has ever played “Jumpin ‘Jack Flash” correctly in concert. I still don’t understand why Keith never plays the awesome opening guitar part that precedes the main riff. (I mean, I *understand* he’d rather posture with his Tele than play things right, but anyway.) Far as I’m concerned, Charlie is usually earnestly trying to locate the groove of that song; sometimes he eventually does.

    My main objection to The Charlie Watts Hoax is the original assertion by am erstwhile townsperson that, duh, everyone knows Hal Blaine played on a lot of those early albums. I’ve actually never seen this verified anywhere. At this point, show me the research that Charlie’s not on that stuff. Anyone can don the lab coat to reach the conclusion they want to reach. I want to see the receipts.

  15. Oats, you do make a good point that no one in the Stones plays “Jumpin’Jack Flash” and countless other classics properly. Listen, I don’t have the access and artistry Oliver Stone would have to actually prove my long-held claim of a hoax. Perhaps we shift this discussion away from an effort to disprove the Charlie Watts Hoax and, instead, try to determine a strong live performance by the Stones past 1966 other than various live versions of “Midnight Rambler.”

    Or, if need be, I’ll see if I can call in the services of Oliver Stone to double down on my claim.

    Seriously, I think Charlie Watts live is a terrible drummer. I’ve known great drummers playing with mediocre live bands and they can find the groove, leaving the posturing guitarists in the dust, if need be. I LOVE the Stones, especially the Brian Jones-era band, but in any live clip I’ve ever seen or heard, Watts sounds like a kid named Joe, who was a last-minute sub for my close personal friend and longtime drummer Sethro, who wisely opted out of playing our proto-band’s first show.

  16. I think this is pretty excellent. A hot groove from Charlie, Bill et al, and both Mick and Keith singing like they mean it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSyNUAzPofI

    I would also refer to the bonus live tracks from the most recent Goats Head Soup reissue (it’s on Spotify), aka the old bootleg The Brussels Affair.

  17. You got me, Oats: that is an excellent live performance of “Happy.” Even Charlie is keeping up.

  18. If you are advancing a conspiracy theory, you bear the burden of proof, not I.

    Your theory is that other musicians played his parts and your proof is that he walked off a major television show because the show insisted that other musicians play his parts? Interesting…

    No further questions your Honor.

  19. Right on, Mr. Mod. I enjoyed this healing moment greatly.

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