Mick Jagger says his late bandmate Charlie Watts is always in his thoughts, especially when he is working on a song and no longer has the drummer to “bounce things off.
The Rolling Stones released new studio album Hackney Diamonds on Friday — their first collection of original songs for 18 years and the first since the death of 80-year-old Watts in August 2021.
The 12-track offering features appearances from the late drummer as well as a host of stars including original member Bill Wyman, Lady Gaga and Elton John.
In an interview with The Guardian, Jagger said: “It’s a couple of years now, and I still think about Charlie a lot…
‘Not as intense as I used to be’
“I miss his laconic humour. His taste in music. His elegance. His don’t-care attitude – he didn’t get intense. Keith and I get a bit intense…
“But Charlie wouldn’t, and it rubs off a bit – I’m not as intense as I used to be.”
The drummer formed part of the band’s original line-up alongside remaining members, guitarist Keith Richards and Jagger, who now perform with Ronnie Wood and Steve Jordan, the band’s drummer since Watts died.
Watts had played on a number of early samples which were then finished after his death, including the tracks Mess It Up and Live By The Sword which feature on the record.
“I think about him when I’m playing, and what he would have played; whether he’d have liked this song, because I’d always bounce things off him,” Jagger reflected.
“I’d be playing him the silly pop songs of the moment, and he’d love all that.”
The 80-year-old singer admitted he has not found the loss of his friends any easier as he gets older, adding: “There’s a lot of people around your age, they’re dying all the time.
“I don’t have any friends older than me, only one. Apart from the band, all my friends are much younger.”
‘It depends on the child’
Jagger, who has eight children, added that becoming a father in his late 20s meant he has been conscious of his mortality for a long time.
He had a son, Deveraux, with his girlfriend Melanie Hamrick when Hamrick was aged 29 and he was aged 73.
Reflecting on fatherhood, he said: “The more children you have, the more laissez-faire you get about them, to be honest.
“And it depends on the child – they have their own personalities and you can mould them to a certain extent, but you see their likes and dislikes and encourage them to do things they gravitate towards.
“It’s fun to have children, at any age. But if you’re working, and always away, you don’t get to enjoy it quite as much.”
Asked how he feels about the band continuing to perform, Jagger said: “How long can you really do it? It’s like asking: how long can someone go on playing for England? Not long, is usually the answer.”
He added: “I do think about it. But I write all the time. You’ve just got to keep writing, and now everyone (in the band) can see they can record quite easily.
“It was only three weeks in the studio. It’s not difficult. Too much angst went into recording before. If it’s no good, it’s no good; if that track doesn’t work, another one will. Do it.”
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