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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 17:36 GMT
Watts confirms Stones reunion
Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones: Reunion is planned
By entertainment correspondent Tom Brook in New York

The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has confirmed that the band plans to reunite next year for a special 40th anniversary tour.

Watts, who is currently performing with his jazz group in New York, said: "As far as I'm concerned, it will happen. We said we would do it in June and we are gearing up to it."

Watts was speaking in his dressing room backstage at New York's famed Blue Note club where he is been entertaining fans with his jazz group.

Over the years, Watts has maintained a passionate interest in jazz alongside his career as drummer for one of the world's top rock bands.

Charlie Watts
Watts: Protective of his band

Although a celebrity in his own right, Watts, 60, has a sprightly and generous demeanour onstage constantly shunning the limelight and diverting attention to members of his group and their solo acts.

He seems proud and protective of them saying: "I am not a very virtuoso type of player. I never wanted to be. I prefer the rhythm as opposed to solo.

"And that is why I have this band to hear them play because they're all great soloists."

Influence

For this Rolling Stone drummer his jazz band has brought him deep satisfaction. Referring to his achievements with his group he says: "What I think is nice is that a lot of it is coming true, a lot of dreams for me, it is coming true."

Watts describes his jazz, which is hard to categorise, as "mainstream" or "straight-ahead".

Miles Davis
Miles Davis: An inspiration for Watts

He has been influenced by many jazz greats including Miles Davis and Max Roach. He first got interested in jazz at age 12 and can recall buying a record by the Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker Quintet.

He also remembers his father was an ardent fan of the jazz singer and band leader Billy Eckstine.

New York's status as a jazz mecca has waned a little over the years, but Watts says coming to perform in the city is still "like bringing coals to Newcastle".

But the drummer felt it was important to perform in New York at this time. The downtown Manhattan club scene has been hit hard by the faltering economy and attacks of 11 September.

Even the long-established Blue Note, which is located more than a mile north of ground zero, has found business is suffering.

Relaxed

Watts recalls that in the immediate aftermath of the attacks he wondered whether he should go. But then he says he spoke to Mick Jagger and a friend and concluded that he had to stand by his commitment and come.

Britney Spears
Britney Spears: Watts says the Rolling Stones cannot compete

He argues that "if you don't do it, it's like giving in really. I'm glad we came. I'm glad I did it."

Watts is passionate about both the Rolling Stones and his jazz, but admits that he is more relaxed with his group, adding that "the world of the Rolling Stones is quite hyper".

He has no plans to retire from jazz but he does acknowledge that age is a factor when it comes to the longevity of the Rolling Stones. He wants the band to do an anniversary tour next year before it is too late.

He says: "I think it's time to do it, and I think if we leave it any longer we really will be too old to do it. I think there's a time when you have to look at this. It's a Britney Spears world. I'm not in that world."

That may be true but Watts seems to have found an extremely comfortable niche pursuing his passion for jazz while still revelling in his membership of what he believes is the best rock and roll band in the world.

See also:

09 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Stones set London ablaze
09 May 01 | Entertainment
Wyman lays into Hear'Say
25 May 99 | Entertainment
Bill Wyman tours memory lane
09 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Wyman slams Stones
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