Charlie Watts on jazzman Charlie Parker:
“I didn’t know what the hell Charlie Parker was playing … I just liked the way he played.”
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From Showbiz Cheatsheet:
The Rolling Stones have been around for six decades, but even they have their influences. Blues musicians like Buddy Waters and B.B. King inspired Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. However, The Rolling Stones’ drummer, Charlie Watts, wasn’t exactly influenced by the blues. He was a die-hard jazz enthusiast up until the day he died, which sadly was Aug. 24. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the genre, and when he couldn’t relate to the rock star lifestyle, he always knew jazz would be there for him.
As a child, Watts grew up loving jazz, and the drums weren’t his first instrument. He bought a banjo thinking he’d play in a jazz band one day, but when he realized the instrument was hard to play, he broke off its neck and made his own drum from the remains.
“Yeah, I bought a banjo, and I saw all these dots in a book,” Watts told Down Beat in 1987. “Did you ever see a banjo book or a guitar book? I couldn’t have done that. Oh dear, all these little dot things.” His father later bought him his first drum kit, and he taught himself how to play by listening and watching his favorite musicians.
“I was 12 years of age, and I heard (saxophonist) Earl Bostic play ‘Flamingo,’ and when I was 13 I went out and bought a record by (baritone saxophonist) Gerry Mulligan called ‘Walking Shoes,’” Watts told the Union-Tribune in 1991. “I’d heard Chico Hamilton “play brushes on ‘Walking Shoes,’ and – bingo!– I wanted to play the drums.”
At the time, Watts noted his enduring appreciation for those records. “I still love Gerry Mulligan, and to this day I play that record; the same applies to Charlie Parker. When I play ‘Walking Shoes’ now, I’m 13 again, I’m young. It still does that to me. A lot of people will say, ‘I love a record that the Stones did,’ and a lot of it has to do with what they were doing then, when they were young, because now they’re old.”
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