Why Charlie Watts Exits Mid-Recording of Iconic Rolling Stones Song

Why Charlie Watts Exits Mid-Recording of Iconic Rolling Stones Song | I Love Classic Rock Videos

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Charlie Watts, the legendary drummer of The Rolling Stones, was known for his impeccable timekeeping and steady presence in the band’s music. However, even the best musicians face challenges, and Watts experienced one during the recording of one of the band’s most iconic songs. He struggled to find the right groove and eventually walked out of the session, leading to a producer stepping in to play the drums.

During a recording session with The Rolling Stones, Charlie Watts left the session abruptly.

In 1969, The Rolling Stones released “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a widely recognized song that has become a staple in their catalog. Surprisingly, it’s not Watts’ drumming that can be heard on the track, but the producer Jimmy Miller.

According to Mick Jagger, the song started as a simple acoustic guitar tune, but it proved difficult to record because Watts couldn’t find the right groove. Frustrated, Miller decided to take over the drums and play the part himself.

“‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ was something I just played on the acoustic guitar — one of those bedroom songs,” according to the book According to the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger stated. “It proved to be quite difficult to record because Charlie couldn’t play the groove and so Jimmy Miller had to play the drums.”

Al Kooper, who played French horn and keyboards in the studio with the Stones, recalled the tense situation. Miller tried to show Watts how to play the part, but he couldn’t replicate it. Eventually, Miller offered to sit at the drums and play the part for Watts to follow along. Instead, Watts expressed his frustration and walked away from the session. As a result, he didn’t play on that particular track.

Kooper revealed NPR:

“Well, the producer, who was Jimmy Miller, was trying to show Charlie Watts how to play somethingAnd first, he explained it to Charlie, but Charlie couldn’t play it. So Jimmy said, ‘Can I sit at the drums and I’ll play it for you and then you’ll be able to do it?’ So he sat down and he played it, and Charlie said, ‘Why don’t you just play it?’ and walked away. And I said, ‘Oh, that’s not good.’ So Charlie Watts didn’t play on that track.”

Charlie Watts allegedly remained absent from the studio until completion of the recording

Reportedly, Watts stayed out of the studio until the recording of the song was completed. However, he viewed Miller’s drumming in a positive light and recognized his contribution to the track. Watts praised Miller’s ability to play songs on records, even though he didn’t consider him a great drummer. He acknowledged the greatness of the drum track on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

“Jimmy Miller played drums on a couple tracks on Let It Bleed, including ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want,’ which I subsequently copied,” Watts said. “That’s how good Jimmy was at hearing songs. He wasn’t a great drummer, but he was great at playing songs on records, which is a completely different thing. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ is a great drum track.”

The challenges he faced while recording ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ do not diminish the talent of The Rolling Stones drummer.

While Watts may have struggled on that particular song, it doesn’t diminish his talent as a drummer. He was known for his steady and grounding presence in The Rolling Stones’ music, breathing life into their songs with his reserved yet powerful drumming. Watts, modest by nature, often underestimated his own skill and couldn’t understand the admiration others had for his drumming. Nevertheless, his contributions to the band were invaluable, and he rightfully earned his place among the greatest drummers of all time.

Sadly, in 2021, Watts passed away after being a member of The Rolling Stones for nearly 60 years. His bandmates mourned not only the loss of his drumming but also the loss of his friendship and companionship. Watts will forever be remembered as a remarkable drummer who left an indelible mark on the world of music.