The singer has given his first proper interview following the death of his longtime bandmate to Rolling Stone magazine, and admits the drummer's passing is a "huge loss."
"The thing about Charlie was that he was always there, always played beautifully and was always willing to discuss what to do about it - how he could make it better," Mick says. "He held the band together for so long, musically, because he was the rock the rest of it was built around..."
"The thing he brought was this beautiful sense of swing and swerve that most bands wish they could have. We had some really nice conversations in the last couple of years about how all this happened with the band. It's a huge loss to us all. It's very, very hard."
Bandmate Keith Richards agrees, telling the publication, "A most vital part of being in this band was that Charlie Watts was my bed. I could lay on there, and I know that not only would I have a good sleep, but I'd wake up and it'd still be rocking. It was something I've had since I was 19. I never doubted it. I never even thought about it."
The Stones will rock on with drummer Steve Jordan, who was announced as Watts' replacement in early August (21), weeks before his death.
A member of Richards' band the X-Pensive Winos, Jagger is convinced he'll be a great fit. "He's very respectful of Charlie," the singer adds. "He played with Keith before we started the rehearsals, and then he did homework, listening to the tunes. When we talk about what Charlie did on this one, we listen to the original record, and then we listen to the live versions."
"There's certain licks that we want to do, that Charlie did. There's certain drum licks that one doesn't think about, but they're part of the tune in a way that a bass part or a guitar part is part of the tune."
Richards adds, "Steve brings with him a lot of knowledge about the Stones. He'll say, 'No, Charlie plays like this.' Steve is so meticulous, so aware of the seat he's sitting in. Steve said this to me: 'Charlie played the drums. He didn't hit them!' "
Mick and Keith are preparing for their first tour without Watts in almost 60 years when they hit the road in Missouri at the weekend (26Sep21). They paid tribute to Watts and toasted their later drummer during a warm-up show at Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts on Monday night (20Sep21).