Not Immortals

(Originally posted in August. Updated.)

RIP Charlie Watts.

We saw the Rolling Stones in Houston in 2019. It was the first time I had seen the Stones live, which is just insane, except I was really a Beatles person growing up.

We had tickets to see them in Dallas this year, but we actually skipped it. I wasn’t into it (see below) and my wife really wants to avoid crowds, so we just stayed home.

A couple of weeks before Charlie passed away, the Stones had announced that he was sitting the tour out. That was disappointing, but health comes first.

Now, we’ve lost the chance that he would change his mind or have a miraculous recovery.

I’m a lot more upset than I thought I would be over hearing that Charlie passed away. He was 80. Anyone in a rock band that lives to be 80 has lived a good life. However, these guys were supposed to be immortal.

Between the Beatles and the Stones, John Lennon died at 40, but it wasn’t his fault. George Harrison died at 58, but it was cancer. Brian Jones died at 27, but that was a rock and roll death.

This one hurts. I miss Charlie. Even if the Stones have had multiple incarnations and “Keith and Mick ARE the Stones”, it just wouldn’t be the same without Charlie.

Even though I was a Beatles person, I listened to the Stones, and they grew on me. I think you have to be a certain age to actually get the Stones, I think. I know I appreciate the Beatles more now, as well.

However, as much as the Stones records grew on me, I learned in 2019 that they are really a live band. They tore up the stadium in Houston. As much as I enjoyed Sir Mick prancing around and Keith banging away, the most compelling member of the band for me was the quietest one (with the loudest instrument) and that was Charlie.

  • Mick Jagger, fresh out of heart surgery, running around the stage.
  • Keith Richards, leading the charge, playing fifty-year old licks that never age.
  • Ronnie Wood, playing the licks Keith can’t remember.
  • Bill Wyman, at home, because he retired from the band 26 years ago.
  • Charlie Watts, a quiet gentleman, looking bemused behind a drum kit and apparently enjoying himself.

I thought that night that he had surely discovered the secret to a long life in rock and roll – never really believing you were doing what you were doing.

I am so glad we made the trek to Houston to see the Stones live. The trip actually got postponed once when Mick had heart surgery and I thought, “I hope we didn’t miss our chance.” When they rescheduled, we drove down again (we had gone the original weekend anyway because we had so many side trips scheduled.)

It was like being a teenager again.

We had dealt with Mick’s age a month or so before, but now they were ageless.

This year, we dealt with Charlie’s age, and now he’s timeless.

I may regret not going to see them in 2021, but I will always have 2019.

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