It’s strange how you only learn things about a person when they die. Last week the Rock ‘n Roll world mourned the loss of Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts. He was a member of the famed bad boys of rock n roll for nearly 50 years.
The Stones are one of my top five favorite bands, right up there with The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Barenaked Ladies and the Pittsburgh Group, The Clarks. I like to think that I knew a lot about the members of those groups as a fan, but there’s always something that folks, no matter how famous, tend to keep private.
I knew Charlie Watts was a jazz guy. In his time away from the Stones he liked to perform with a jazz trio in clubs. He was very reserved, save the time he punched Mick Jagger for referring to him as “his drummer”. Otherwise, he was antithesis of a rock star, preferring to stay in his hotel suite and draw as opposed to partying with the “Glimmer Twins” (as Mick & Keith were known). He was married to the same woman for nearly the same time as he was in the Rolling Stones, some 57 years.
The one thing that I discovered upon his passing was that Charlie Watts…was a car guy! He had amassed quite a collection of cars over the course of his adult life. What a treat for the car guy/music fan in me to have had some time to chat with him about his career, his jazz artist influences and his favorite (sorry, favourite, as one would write in the UK) cars!
Among the collection, a Lamborghini Miura, an early coach-built Bugatti, a 1937 Lagonda Rapide Cabriolet, one of 25 ever produced. He also had a bright-yellow Citroen 2CV just like the one in “For Your Eyes Only”, with a tailored suite to match. In fact, he had suits made to match all of his cars. The only thing he didn’t have? A driver’s license!
That’s right! He owned all these fantastic and rare cars and never drove a one. He was content to sit in one of his many garages, with a tailored suite matched to the car, fire up the motor and listen to the sweet sounds of piston beats and exhaust notes. Who can question that? After all, there are those of us who like to wrench or race or cruise or clean. So, no matter how you choose to appreciate a car, we can all agree, while he was alive, Charlie Watts lived that Car Show Life!