Happy Birthday, Charlie Watts

NEW YORK - MAY 10: Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones talks to reporters during a press conference to announce a world tour at the Julliard Music School May 10, 2005 in New York City.
Surrounded by his more flamboyant bandmates, the drummer for the Rolling Stones has always managed to hold down the fort without sacrificing a single fluid ounce of cool. 

Since he turns 72 today, here is a smattering of particularly cool things about the often overlooked Stone, behind the 8-piece kit in the back there.


For one, the suits. 

While, for example, Keith Richards’s style is famously haphazard ­­– enough so to inspire Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Cpt. Jack Sparrow -- Charlie Watts is always on point in the most elegant, Savile Row of ways.  Whether it’s a classic three-piece, with a pop of color or rocking neutral tones, the man always looks good.

Jazz Influence

Much of Watts’s sense of style, both musical and sartorial, comes from jazz.  He has said many times that he doesn’t see himself as a rock and roll drummer, despite playing in what is arguably the quintessential rock and roll band.  The jazz influence is very important to the unique rhythms of the Stones’ music and Watts himself. 

In 1960, before the Stones, Watts wrote and illustrated a children’s book called Ode to a High-Flying Bird, a tribute to Charlie Parker.

Not A Morning Person

One famous Charlie Watts story goes that once upon the mid-1980s, in Amsterdam,  Mick and Keith were out partying until the wee hours.  They returned to Mick’s hotel room at 5 a.m, and a drunk and coked out Mick called Charlie’s hotel room, demanding “Where’s my drummer?”

Charlie got out of his hotel bed, showered, shaved, put on one of his very prime suits, went to Mick’s room, and punched the singer by way of greeting, saying “Never call me your drummer again; you're my f*cking singer.” 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Watts, and thanks for the jams.