The Night Charlie Watts Dressed Up To Punch Mick Jagger
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Twelve drummers drumming ...
When we think of Christmas songs and drummers drumming, we think of "The Little Drummer Boy." But let's talk about something else instead, based on how many individual opinions we've heard expressing deep loathing toward that boy and his ra-pa-pum-pum. Consider how David Bowie said "I hate this song" when asked to sing it with Bing Crosby, during a Christmas special shot five weeks before Crosby's death. Within an hour, a songwriting team came up with a different song he could sing to complement Crosby's "Drummer Boy" rendition.
Drummers in general get a lot of disrespect, often wrongly portrayed as the most dispensable member of the band. Charlie Watts from The Rolling Stones often felt like he was treated more like one of the band's session musicians than one of the core four.
One time in 1984, the Stones were in Amsterdam, and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards went out partying without Watts. Late at night, Watts awoke to his phone ringing. Mick and Keith were back. "Where's my drummer?" said Mick, over the phone.
Now, to us, that sounds like an affectionate question, Mick Jagger asking after his absent friend. Charlie Watts took it a little differently. He put down the phone, shaved, and dressed himself in a formal suit and tie. Then he went to Mick's hotel room and punched him in the face. Keith had to catch Mick Jagger to save him from falling out the window into a canal (according to Keith, he only stepped in because he spotted his own jacket on Mick's shoulders and wanted to save it).
"Never call me your drummer again," said Watts. Some sources go further and claim he said, "I'm not your drummer, you're my singer," except adding some choice profanity before the word "singer."
Watts died this past August at the age of 80. His bandmates had only good things to say about him at his funeral, and all agree that he would have lived longer if his friends made him party with them more often.
Top image: Raph_PH/Wiki Commons