Rolling Stones Kick Off Tour with Emotional Tribute to Late Drummer Charlie Watts

by Josh Lanier
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The Rolling Stones resumed their much-delayed “No Filter” tour Sunday, but it was without Charlie Watts, the band’s drummer nearly 60 years. It was the band’s first major since his death last month, and they paid tribute to the late legend at the beginning of the show in St. Louis.

The show opened on an empty stage with just a drum track playing, the New York Post said. Video of Watts playing with the band throughout the decades played on giant screens around the stage. Afterward, the band appeared and performed two songs before walking to the front of the stage to address the giant hole in the Rolling Stones lineup.

“This is our first-ever tour we’ve ever done without him,” Mick Jagger told the crowd. Bassist Ronnie Wood and guitarist Keith Richards stood alongside of the lead singer. “We’ll miss Charlie so much, on and off the stage.”

Charlie Watts died last month in London, though the band didn’t release a cause of death. He was 80 years old. Steve Jordan, who stepped in for Watts in the past, is filling in on the tour.

Jagger recently told Variety that Watts was “the rock” that held the band together.

“The thing about Charlie was that he was always there, always played beautifully, and was always willing to discuss what to do about it — how he could make it better,” Jagger said. “He held the band together for so long, musically, because he was the rock the rest of it was built around. … It’s a huge loss to us all. It’s very, very hard. But we had wonderful times, and Charlie made some wonderful music.”

The Rolling Stones released a tribute video the Watts shortly after his death.

Ringo Starr: Charlie Watts Was ‘A Beautiful Human Being’

The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr recently opened up about his friendship with former Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts in an interview shortly after Watts’ death.

Fans and critics often compared the two drummers as they were contemporaries in two of the biggest rock bands of all time. Though, Ringo said he didn’t see it like that. He was in awe of Watts’ work ethic and ability to manage the big egos of the band.

“He was a beautiful human being,” Starr told The Daily Mail. “Charlie was a great guy and a lot of fun, and he had a harder band than I did to keep together.”

Fans and friends of Charlie Watts said the Rolling Stone drummer never got enough credit during his life for what he brought to the band. He preferred to remain quiet and contribute rather than compete for the spotlight.

Musicians understood what he was doing and that the Rolling Stones were built on Watts’ beats.

“He’s always been a solid foundational drummer,” Roots drummer Questlove said. “He’s the anti-drummer. He wasn’t performative to let you know how hard he was f**king working. He gave you the basic foundation.”

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