Home / Classic Hits News / The Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts Talks 50th Anniversary, His New Boogie-Woogie Band


Much speculation has circulated in the press about what special plans The Rolling Stones may have to mark their 50th anniversary, but if drummer Charlie Watts knows what’s in store for his band, he isn’t saying.  In an interview this week, the 71-year-old stick man tells ABC News Radio that the milestone was completely off his radar until fairly recently.

“I wasn’t aware it was 50 years until I was told last year, and the person who told me got it wrong,” declares Watts, who officially joined The Stones in January 1963.  “It’s actually next year.”

He adds, “We’re gonna do things, but I don’t know if we’re gonna play.  We haven’t got that far.”

As for what significance the group’s 50th anniversary holds for him, Watts says, “It’s just a long time to have a band going.”

The drummer is a bit more interested in talking about his side project The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie, which just released their debut album, Live in Paris, on Tuesday.  The retro jazz outfit, which also features dueling pianists Axel Zwingenberger and Ben Waters and double bassist Dave Green, recorded the collection during a series of September 2010 shows at the renowned Paris jazz venue Les Duc des Lombards.

Watts admits that he plays in this group for the enjoyment of it, and hadn’t initially planned to release the recordings as an album.

“This band never got together for albums and DVDs,” he explains to ABC News Radio.  “Axel asked Ben if they should play together some time, and then Ben asked me if I would like to play and I said, ‘Yeah, if Dave does it,’ ’cause I always like playing with Dave.  So…that’s the level it’s at.  This has taken it to another level, having a record out.”

The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie is celebrating the arrival of the concert collection with a series of New York City shows during the next few days.  On Thursday, the band will make its U.S. debut when it plays a special two-set show as part of Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing series, an event that also will include pre-concert dance lessons.  Watts and company also will play a four-night stand, Friday through Monday, at the famed jazz club The Iridium.

Regarding the Lincoln Center event, Watts says it’s rare these days to see people actually dancing to live music, while noting, “what we’re doing Thursday night is not unusual for this music.”

He adds, jokingly, “That’d be a real bummer [if, after having] had dance lessons before, nobody’d move their feet.”

Asked to compare playing drums with The Stones and with his boogie-woogie band, Watts tells ABC News Radio, “There’s no difference at all…except one is physically a lot harder on you because of the volume you play at or the strength you play.  And you can’t play like that with this band. You’ll drown everyone out.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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