2 June 1941 – 24 August 2021
The Rolling Stones drummer’s childhood friend and fellow musician recalls a home-loving connoisseur and collector of ephemera
I first met Charlie Watts in 1946, when I was four and he was five. We moved into new prefabs built after the war in Wembley Park – we were number 22, he was number 23 – and our mums hit it off pretty much straight away. We were very close, Charlie and me, throughout our lives. There was one point after he joined the Stones when we didn’t see each other for years, but when we did eventually reconnect, we picked up where we left off. Our relationship never really changed.
From an early age we were both interested in jazz. It was a mutual thing. I used to listen to records in Charlie’s bedroom, discovering musicians such as Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton. Later, when his dad bought him a drum kit and I got a double bass, we’d only been playing for a few months when we heard that a jazz band was doing auditions for a drummer and bass player. We did the audition and as we were the only ones that turned up we got the gig with the Jo Jones Seven and started doing weekly sessions at the Masons Arms pub in Edgware.