The lengendary Rolling Stone drummer was unlike his fellow band members, and may better be described as the mild man of rock.
Despite the infamous libidos of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, Watts never strayed from his wife of 58 years, Shirley Ann Shepard, who he met before he even joined The Stones. “I hated the girls chasing me down the road,” he said when he appeared on the BBC's Desert Island Discs. “The way I live is very monastic and kind of disciplined.”
He also revealed on Desert Island Discs that he was a huge cricket fan, choosing a snippet of commentary from the 4th test series between England and Australia in 1956 at Old Trafford as one of his eight tracks. He was a regular at the Oval, and could often be found quietly sneaking away to watch games after being on stage. The famously sartorial drummer even purchased a Don Bradman blazer from the 1934 England-Australian test series for £3,600 to add to his wardrobe.
It was an extensive wardrobe. He owned more than 200 suits, including several worn by the Duke of Wellington, which he would use to inspire his own commissions. Indeed, he once joked that “I’m saving the bespoke tailoring industry single-handedly.”
It wasn’t only cricket and bespoke tailoring that he enjoyed. He loved the working-man’s patter of Tony Hancock, selecting a clip from Hancock’s Half Hour as another of his Desert Island picks. As for the book he chose to take to the island with him, he selected Dylan Thomas’s Collected Poems.
Perhaps as a throw back from his early days as a graphic designer, he owned an extensive selection of vintage cars – despite not being able to drive! “Charlie is a great English eccentric,” band-mate Keith Richards said. “I mean, how else can you describe a guy who buys a 1936 Alfa Romeo just to look at the dashboard? Can’t drive – just sits there and looks at it.”
For more insights on the mild man of rock, you can download Charlie Watts' appearance on Desert Island Discs from 20 years ago.
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