The Rolling Stones debuted in the U.S. Top 40 in the summer of 1964 as part of The British Invasion, with Charlie Watts on drums, who passed away August 24 at age 80. KISS’ drummer Eric Singer told Goldmine, “This is a sad loss for all. Charlie influenced generations of fans and drummers. He was the king of playing ‘for the song.’ Charlie left us with a legacy of iconic tunes. What an amazing career!”
In the spring of 1965, The Rolling Stones achieved their first U.S. Top 10 composition with “The Last Time,” and its flip side was a song Watts co-wrote with the rest of the quintet, the gentle “Play with Fire.” That summer, they had their first No. 1 gold single with the classic “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” with Watts’ driving beat being a key ingredient as was the case three years later with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” At the end of the decade, Watts’ cowbell was prominent on “Honky Tonk Women,” which, like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” spent four weeks at No. 1 as their third gold single.
As the 1970s began, Watts was featured on the group’s live album Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! and was key to the rhythms of the extended songs “Midnight Rambler” and “Sympathy for the Devil.” The following year, The Rolling Stones debuted their own record label with the album Sticky Fingers and its first single “Brown Sugar” with “Bitch” on the flip side, where Mick Jagger sang, “My heart is beating louder than a big bass drum,” with Watts supplying the pounding backdrop. While AM radio stations played the A side, growing FM rock stations latched on to the flip side, with a title that for AM that was too controversial at the time.
The Rolling Stones
Flip side: Bitch
A side: Brown Sugar
Top 100 debut: May 1, 1971
Peak position: 1
Rolling Stones RS 19100
Later in the decade, during the disco era, “Miss You” became the group’s final No.1 gold single. In addition to the three minute 45, a 12 inch disco single was released, running over eight minutes, highlighting Watts’ steady dance beat in clubs.
In 1981, The Rolling Stones’ highest charting single that decade was released, “Start Me Up,” which peaked at No. 2 for three weeks and captured the energy Watts brought to the group’s biggest hits. Watts continued to record and tour with the band for the next forty years, just recently declining to tour due to health reasons. The jazz loving rock and roll drummer is survived by his wife Shirley, who he married in 1964, and their daughter Seraphina and granddaughter Charlotte.