Aw, Man - it hit like a hammer. I honestly thought that he drafted in Steve Jordan for the US tour because he was looking after his long-term health, but I see now that that was just a cover to keep the press off his wife and family. Charlie is and was the consummate gentleman in every possible way. A genius drummer that people consistently under-estimate and every idiot who ever said that to me and I told them to play 'Honky Tonk Women' on their own kit and play it better than Charlie.
Failure - every fucking time, every time.
Last time losing a player cut this deep was John Lennon, and previous to that, John Henry Bonham.
The classic Charlie story as follows: Charlie's asleep in bed in his chosen hotel across town from the band and the other Stones are having a party in theirs across town. Mick calls Charlie, waking him up and then addressing him demanding to know 'where's my fackin' drummer then?' and Charlie immediately hangs up the phone.
Gets out of bed, shaves, fixes his hair, chooses a shirt, tie, three piece bespoke suit from Saville Row, and takes a car over the the party. Strides into the party room and adeptly turns Mick around and tells him: 'don't you ever call me your fackin' drummer again, you're my facking singer'.
Smashes him one on the nose, and then turned on his heel and departed in as much dignity as he arrived.
Same here, I attended a pipe and reed band drummer's class for around five or six meetings and then left just before St Patrick's Day as I had no intentions of walking through the city centre in a kilt. In retrospect, that was an error. I ended up doing lead drummers roles with Macnas when they headed up political and economic protests over the the years, and we trooped all over the city leading UCD students as well as Trinity. Which is exactly where I learned to despise the west Brit types in Trinity who I later entertained in the Junior's Common Room over th main gate most lunchtimes for a good few years with a variety of bands.
The Trinity Ball was another good show to get on the bill of and the last time I played it was with an augmented version of 'Loose Booty' which was our hip-hop/Irish trad fusion band. Instead of playing as a regular four pieces, we added nine more guys to the bill and played a 0600am show to the party people who were all coming down from trips on ecstasy. Our fee was one Irish punt, and that was only offered so we were ensured we were insured by the event should anything go wrong.
It was one of the most fucked up gigs I ever played: one mate shoved a pill into my mouth earlier and I swallowed it. It was the strongest ecstasy I ever tried, and during one track which had two separate time signatures in the verses and chorus sections, I played the up-tempo 4/4 section perfectly, but for some reason* when we hit the bridge to the chorus and shifted to a 6/8, I dropped tempo down to almost a snail's pace - and even worse: I was too fucked up to cop on. I looked up and the rest of the lads were creased in laughter, but I didn't know why - mainly because I was seeing multiples of each stick while I was playing and they all looked real. They weren't though, I was having whatever the name of that stuttered type visual trip you sometimes get with MDMA.
Next morning at 1000am nyself and Brian, the bassist, were booked for a photo shoot of a new line of Paul Smith man's winter wear for Jardain A'la Mode Paris - both of us looked like death warmed up, but they used the shots and we got paid.
* Never play drums on MDMA - it's so fucked up seeing dozens and dozens of sticks whizzing around infront of you and not knowing which one was real and which an hallucination.
Pills and music. Best musical experience I ever had was when they were about to make magic mushrooms illegal so the flatmates and myself decided we should mark the moment by getting off our tits for the weekend, more or less, allowing some time on Sunday for recovery. The house was mental ... we had to wrestle the phone off've one lad who was determined to ring his parents to apologise for everything at about 2am.
But having retired for some introspective moments in the dark in my room I turned on the stereo and the music came visibly, and I mean I could actually see the little musical notes come bouncing out of the speakers and run around on the floor jumping at the right time and generally having a great time.
Must have watched the little musics for a good half hour before having to go and find the housemates to report this strange visitation from a little tribe of musics that had moved into my room.
I think I forgot because one of the housemates, a 6"2 Geordie, was wandering around wearing a dolphin mask in the hall and that was a show-stopper looming out of the shadows I can tell you.
Anyway. To Sean the Magic Mushroom God- 'thank you for the music'.
The best bit was the last thing I remember before going quantum was one of the lads saying 'I'm not getting much off these mushrooms. Do you think we should have bought more?'
Famous last words. Anyway. I know other people's experiences in this area can get tedious but as long as music is around in my opinion you'll never separate humans from sensory experience with music and mood-changers.
Speaking of Gerry Leonard on the 'Americans' thread, here's another wee diamond from his days with Donal Coughlan (RIP) on the Hinterland project from the 80's. The two lads wrote all the tunes and Chris O'Brien co-produced the album with them at Ringsend Road studios, drafting in Wayne Sheehy for drums and loops, and later hiring Sean Gormley for live shows on the bass (Sean's the older brother of Phelim, the sax player in The Commitments) two of which I managed to see on a tour they were opening for Prefab Sprout.
Great days, so they were - Dublin was hopping with talent.
This one's about a friend of Donal's, a fellow called Stanley who drank himself under and ended up on the streets in Dublin, usually sleeping under the portals of the Pro Cathedral. His body was found in the Ivy House after he drank himself to death. Sad tune, but a wonderful arrangement too by Gerry.
I saw a great comment yesterday from someone or other about Charlie Watts. It was something like 'there is a divide between serious drummers as to whether Keith Moon was a great drummer or not. There's no debate at all about Charlie'.
Back in the days of Ballyer, me and my mate Terry-Lee kept musical schedules for various days of the week. We bought our hash in the Meeting Place on Dorset from the Dunne family and then hopped a truck home again. Hop on a flat-bed at the main lights on the NCR, it always took the same route up Conyngham Road to Chapelizod, where we hopped off at the lights and walked the hill home.
Friday nights was always Floyd: we'd start with Ummagumma and roll a few spliffs, then hit The Wall when a spliff was lit up and ready to go. We drank tea, not beer. No idea why, as we could have afforded it but booze wasn't our bag at all. As soon as the hash settled in, we'd sit in silence and listen to every track under the microscope. We took the entire album apart and knew every section and arrangement by heart. It was, at the time, the eight wonder of the world, even though I never really dug Nick Mason, he played for the songs and did a brilliant job of it. I was hooked on Roger Waters and his tone, lyrics, ideas, arrangements, the works. Gilmour too: the second solo at the outro on 'Comfortably Numb' still knocks me to the boundaries even now, every time. That first note of the second solo is both the end of the world and the beginning of time. I'm sure Hendrix would have stopped dead in his tracks at David Gilmour's soaring guitars.