Charlie Watts

jespo

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(Hoping to put some more fun and enjoyment back into this thread. Negative comments need not apply.)

I just finished putting together a Slinglerland BDP kit in a Charlie Watts configuration. I wanted to make a replica Gretsch RB natural kit out of rough shape orphan drums... but they cost too much money on ebay. This kit has the 'Stones' sound and look... and that's what I was hoping for. :happy11:
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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I could be wrong, but didn't Watts use Ludwig all through the 60s? I was thinking he didn't move to Gretsch until later....

(This could have been covered earlier)
 

Chunkaway

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One of the best rhythm guitarists ever (Keith Richards) calls Charlie Watts, "..one of the best drummers in the world..." so that is good enough for me. :)
 

tommykat1

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Sorry I was such a downer everyone!

I love the fact that Charlie plays (played?) a vintage Gretsch kit. Isn't the story that he played someone's at a jazz gig and fell in love with it there and then? Or does he play multiple brands?
 

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AtlantaDrumGuy said:
I could be wrong, but didn't Watts use Ludwig all through the 60s? I was thinking he didn't move to Gretsch until later....

(This could have been covered earlier)
Like most of us, he has been a bit of a moving target. You can find pictures of him sitting behind both Ludwig and Gretsch. The Gretsch book (Chet Falzerono) refers to the unlikelihood of him being able to obtain (price and distribution would both be hurdles) a Gretsch set when the Stones were beginning in 1963. Later on Chet notes the appearance of the black nitron kit circa 1968 on a David Frost Show in the same time frame as Beggar's Banquet. Then Get Yer Ya Yas out (1969) had Gresch black nitron on the front and Gretsch black diamond pearl on the reverse.

So the Gretsch kits were in evidence for the tail of the 60's.

Snare drums come and go with more alacrity.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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tommykat1 said:
Sorry I was such a downer everyone!

I love the fact that Charlie plays (played?) a vintage Gretsch kit. Isn't the story that he played someone's at a jazz gig and fell in love with it there and then? Or does he play multiple brands?
I believe Charlie is somewhat of a vintage drum lover. He has a Gretsch jazz kit as well, which I believe is a true RB. He also has a radio king kit with a larger bass drum. And who knows what else. Very cool. He could play anything in the world, but he chooses vintage gear in general. And he's used multiple snares through his career...not Gretsch...as mentioned.

This is in my definition the kind of cat I'd like to be...play what you want because it's about the sound...and not worry about endorsing one thing. Rock on Mr. Watts!
 

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He was in my shop while the Stones were in Seattle back in 2005(?) There was a photo of him playing his Sky Blue kit on the wall. He saw it and said "I still have those". He called them Blue Oysters. I knew what he meant. I didn't correct him. Probably the coolest day at work in the entire 17 years I owned the shop.
 

jespo

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No worries Tommykat1... Glad to see you back. :)

AtlantaDrumGuy, I couldn't agree with you more... I actually never seen a pic of Charlie playing a Gretsch snare... I'm sure they are out there...

Speaking of snares, does anyone know which snare Charlie used on the "Some Girls" recording? I REALLY like the snare sound on that album. You can hear that it was miked from the bottom and top... very 'snare side' heavy mix.... it kills on the 'Miss You' track. !!! (Sorry... love the disco Stones) :)
 

jespo

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Great story Donn!! I have vintage drum calendar that has many kits from your shop on my fridge.
donnbennett said:
He was in my shop while the Stones were in Seattle back in 2005(?) There was a photo of him playing his Sky Blue kit on the wall. He saw it and said "I still have those". He called them Blue Oysters. I knew what he meant. I didn't correct him. Probably the coolest day at work in the entire 17 years I owned the shop.
 

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I saw a documentary a year or so ago--on YouTube, I'm pretty sure--where he discussed his love of his vintage Gretsch drums. The interviewer asked him why he chose those instead of a new drum set, and he said he played them, fell in love with them, and bought them from the owner. Can't remember the rest. Sorry!
 

andrewro

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Yeah, I saw something in Youtube where he was interviewed. I think he said they came from SIR rentals when the Stones were recording in LA / Hollywood and he liked them so much he bought them.
 

MrDrums2112

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Charlie Watts is one of my favorite drummers. I only had he pleasue of seeing him play live once, on the Steel Wheels tour, and it was very memorable. His drums alwys sound great, and I love the signature Chinese crash - no one else could pull that off so well. I also love his kick drum sound. I have been doing a lot of experimenting with kick head combos, and it suddenly occurred to me that it's his sound I'm going for. Now, if i can only get there.....
 

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andrewro said:
Yeah, I saw something in Youtube where he was interviewed. I think he said they came from SIR rentals when the Stones were recording in LA / Hollywood and he liked them so much he bought them.
The owner's name is Jeff Shrin. He owned the kit and was asked to bring it to the studio for Charlie (it wasn't for a Sones recording but one of the stones members solo album)
 

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Charlie liked the way that kit sounded so much that he never changed the kick drum head until he broke it during a show in the early 2000s. He was like "why change it? It sounds fine". Now I see him with different bass head combinations all the time. I think in the last several years he's gotten a lot more into his drum sounds. His kit has remained the same since the 70s but his snare and cymbals are constantly evolving. Check out the new DW snare he's using now if you can find any pics from the current tour. It's a DW maple drum with the Rolling Stones' tongue logo on each panel. He is SO cool.
 

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Within rock there are different musical sensibilities, and Watts surely reflects something quite different than the majority of rock drummers: He swings the music. Like most good rock drummers, he stays out of the way and he plays grooves. But his grooves which could be repetitive have feeling that keeps the music bubbling along, and on the rare occasion when he makes a move, it is almost always unique to him but, more importantly, it fires the music. Reproducing those moves is not hard, but coming up with them in the first place requires something rather special. I have listened to drummers all my life and have rarely heard another approach music the way Charile does. Listening to drummers trying to play a Watt's groove is almost never a satisfying experience, because they play those grooves pedantically, not musically.

In my opinion, if you want to emulate a great rock backbeat artist, listen to Watts.
 

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Alright. Last night I saw the Stones in Toronto. I hope I rock like them when I'm seventy! With the comments from this thread in mind, I watched intently for any deficiency in Charlie's playing. Like psalty says above, he fires the music. However, a counterpoint to what psalty says: Charlie was very active last night...but I get what he meant by rarely making a move. Bat, da-bat bat Da! I love his playing. Great show. It amazes me just how much money they rake in. Minimum $180/tick, $55 shirt and stickers...and worth it.
Also, Toronto is an amazing city. I am surprised at how much it's grown since the last time I was there, and I'm always impressed with all of the action. Toronto and NY are awesome places. Yah, I'm sure you think differently.
 

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I got to see them 3 different times on the last tour. Each one amazing. Every show completely different. Even the "arrangements" of the individual songs changes from night to night. I think they just start playing and let the song evolve. They play more like a jazz band than a rock band. Sometimes Keith is playing lead and next thing you know he's playing rhythm and Ronnie has woven his lead in. It goes back and forth like that all night. All 3 shows I was right up close, sometimes right behind Charlie. I found myself standing there with my jaw on the floor most of the show. Seeing him play up close is amazing. Being close enough to see the visual communication between the players was amazing. One quick glance from Keith or Mick can change the whole direction of the song right on the spot. You can't see that from the 300 level of a stadium. Sometimes things go a little south if someone misses a cue but they always weave their way back in. I've heard people say the Stones are no good live. I don't even bother commenting. If you can't understand that they are amazing just by listening then it's not something someone can ever explain to you. I was really hoping they would come through Seattle this tour but no luck. I just hope I get one more chance to see them.
 

psalty

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And that is how the music stays fresh.

donnbennett said:
Every show completely different. Even the "arrangements" of the individual songs changes from night to night. I think they just start playing and let the song evolve. They play more like a jazz band than a rock band. ...
 

Rik_Everglade

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Three shows in one tour? I wish I could do that. I've seen them once in each of the last four decades, three in Toronto and once in Syracuse. This evolving explains their very loose playing on two songs. Charlie was doing many more hi-hat accents too. And that new Zildjian Tashformer cymbal that Charlie had way to his left was used only for the trashcan endings on some songs, he probably used it in-song probably twice the whole night.
 

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