Charlie Watts: Paul McCartney pays tribute to Rolling Stones star
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The band’s legendary drummer, who was the engine behind their sound, died aged 80 on Tuesday. His publicist, Bernard Doherty, said in a statement to the PA Media news agency: “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts. “He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family. Charlie was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and also, as a member of the Rolling Stones, one of the greatest drummers of his generation.”
The London-born musician’s death comes just weeks after it was announced that he would miss the Stones’ upcoming US tour as he recovered from an unspecified medical procedure.
Although Charlie is renowned as one of the best drummers in rock music, he was never knighted by the Queen for his contributions to art, unlike his bandmate, Mick Jagger.
Charlie revealed his disdain for knighthoods during a 2001 appearance on BBC Radio 4’s “Desert Island Discs”.
As he introduced a version of Vaughan Williams’s “Lark Ascending”, he pointed out how composer Simon Rattle had been knighted.
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He said: “I’m glad you’ve got Nigel Kennedy playing it and ‘Sir Simon’ as he’s called now, everyone is sir.”
Host Sue Lawley then asked the drummer if he was expecting his own knighthood anytime soon.
Charlie replied: “No thank you, it would be the death of us if we got recognised in those quarters.”
Charlie’s disagreement with knighthoods for the band was reportedly shared by the Queen herself.
In 2003 the monarch was said to have refused to knight Mick Jagger for his services to popular music.
The Stones frontman eventually received the honour in December of that year from Prince Charles in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Mick received his nomination for a kinghood from then-Prime Minister Tony Blair soon after he took office in 1997.
However, the Queen was said to have rejected the proposal for number of reasons.
The singer used to refer to the monarch as the “Chief Witch” of England, according to Christopher Andersen, who published the book, “Mick: the Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger”.
The author said the Queen was also worried about the relationship between the musician and her sister, Princess Margaret.
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The pair had been known to attend some of the same parties, where drugs were taken, and had been pictured dining together.
Mr Andersen said the Queen had been able to avoid giving Mick a knighthood by choosing to have elective surgery on her knee on the day, even though it was not an emergency.
He quoted an anonymous courtier as saying: “The Queen looked at Mick Jagger’s name on that list, and there was absolutely no way in the world that she was going to take part in that. She simply arranged to be elsewhere.”
Mick also faced pushback over the knighthood from his Rolling Stone, Keith Richards.
The guitarist told Uncut Magazine at the time that he “went f**king berserk” when he heard of his bandmate’s nomination.
Keith told the magazine that knighthoods were not what the band was about and also referenced his and Mick’s brief spell in prison after they were convicted on drugs charges.
He said: “I thought it was ludicrous to take one of those gongs from the establishment when they did their very best to throw us in jail and kill us at one time.
“It’s not what the Stones is about, is it? I don’t want to step onstage with someone wearing a f**king coronet and sporting the old ermine.”
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