Charlie Watts Biographer Recalls His Ultimatum To Mick Jagger

When a bunch of lads gets together, it would be a miracle if there were no glitches and everything just went swimmingly. Besides being individuals with different artistic perspectives, their egos also come to play and stir the pot. The case was no different for the legendary Rolling Stones. During a recent appearance on Absolute Radio, biographer Alan Clayson reflected on the drummer Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger’s physical quarrel back in the day.

“I think he was very conscious that he was indispensable within the Stones,” Clayson said about Watts. “For example, he didn’t actually play on ‘It’s Only Rock and Roll,’ their single. That was Kenney Jones from the Small Faces. Neither did he play drums on ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want,’ which was actually played by their producer Jimmy Miller.”

He added, “But they had to ask Charlie for executive clearance, and rather than saying, ‘Well, you know you can wipe out what they did; I’m going to add mine,’ he was quite okay about it because he realized he was indispensable.” Watts was pretty comfortable with others playing the drums in their tracks because he knew he was an integral part of the act.

The author then recalled the infamous incident between the two bandmates. Alan explained, “At one point, there was an altercation where Mick Jagger phoned Charlie’s hotel room and said, ‘Please can you send my drummer to the studio?’ Charlie dressed up in his suit and tie and went around to, you know, wherever Mick Jagger was and punched him and said, ‘I’m not your drummer, you’re my singer,’ you know, which was quite significant.”

The dynamics within the band are something that most of us can’t wrap our heads around since Charlie’s punch didn’t change the band’s trajectory whatsoever. They continued as if nothing had happened until Watts’ passing. However, this incident definitely served as a warning for Mick regarding how he had to treat his bandmates. It was a kind of ultimatum, as Charlie Watts made it clear that he wasn’t one to be bossed around.