Monday, August 15, 2022

Book Review: Charlie's Good Tonight

Charlie Watts was one of the most decorated musicians in the world, having joined the Rolling Stones, a few months after their formation, early in 1963. A student of jazz drumming, he was headhunted by the band after bumping into them regularly in London’s rhythm and blues clubs. Once installed at the drum seat, he didn’t miss a gig, album or tour in his 60 years in the band. He was there throughout the swinging sixties, the early shot at superstardom and the Stones' world conquest; and throughout the debauchery of the 1970s, typified by 1972's Exile on Main St., considered one of the great albums of the century. By the 1980s, Charlie was battling his own demons, but emerged unscathed to enhance his unparalleled reputation even further over the ensuing decades.

Watts went through band bust-ups, bereavements and changes in personnel, managers, guitarists and rhythm sections, but remained the rock at the heart of the Rolling Stones for nearly 60 years—the thoughtful, intellectual but no less compelling counterpoint to the raucousness of his bandmates Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. And this is his story.

Charlie's Good Tonight by Paul Senton is an authorized biography being released on October 11, 2022. Harper Collins publishing provided an early galley in exchange for a review

It seems music-nerds are often either fans of the Rolling Stones or The Beatles; I tended to towards the latter. The Stones, however, was one of older brother's favorite bands (up there with the Who and the Clash). So, I was very familiar with their discography long before I started to develop my own music listening patterns. And I very much do enjoy many of their albums from the 60's through the early 80's.

Naturally, this biography was an instant interest for me. Right off the bat, I liked seeing the forewards by Mick and Keith. Hearing what Charlie's good friends and long-time bandmates had to say about him, in their own words, was the right way to kick this one off. I also like that in the introduction the author outlines how this book is a tribute to the steady, professional drummer who was there to do his job and not be the source of scandal. The rest of the book is broken up into nine chapters plus four interludes labeled as "backbeats", all together telling the life story of this musician's musician.

I learned a lot from this book - from Charlie's style to his preferred music genres to his approach to family. Paul Senton delivers it all in a friendly and moving manner. I would certainly recommend this one to my music nerd friends.

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