The Rolling Stones Call Charlie Watts' Death 'Very, Very Hard' for the Band: 'He Was the Rock'

Mick Jagger said Watts "was the rock" of The Rolling Stones, adding that he had "held the band together"

Charlie Watts Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones in 1978. Photo: Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty

The Rolling Stones have fond memories of their drummer Charlie Watts, who died at age 80 on Aug. 24.

In their first interviews since Watts' death, singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards shared with Rolling Stone what they loved most about their late friend.

Jagger, 78, said Watts "was the rock" that The Rolling Stones was built around, adding that he had "held the band together for so long."

Charlie Watts
Charlie Watts. David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns

"The thing he brought was this beautiful sense of swing and swerve that most bands wish they could have," Jagger told Rolling Stone. "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."

Richards, 77, recalled Watts' "incredible" sense of humor, adding that he found "joy" in making him laugh.

"If you could hit that spot, he wouldn't stop, and it was the funniest thing in the world," Richards explained in the interview. "He had an incredible sense of humor that he kept to himself unless you sparked it. And then it could be painful to laugh."

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones in 2019. MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP via Getty Images

"A most vital part of being in this band was that Charlie Watts was my bed," he added. "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."

Watts died nearly three weeks after a spokesperson for the drummer told PEOPLE that he was unlikely to join the band's upcoming tour, which begins Sunday, after undergoing an unspecified medical procedure.

"With rehearsals starting in a couple of weeks it's very disappointing to say the least, but it's also fair to say no one saw this coming," the spokesperson said at the time.

Charlie Watts Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones in 2019. Kevin Winter/Getty

Steve Jordan, a member of Richards' band X-Pensive Winos, was selected to fill in for Watts on tour prior to his death. Jagger told Rolling Stone that the drummer, 64, has been "very respectful of Charlie" and his legacy.

"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," the singer explained. "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."

"Steve brings with him a lot of knowledge about the Stones," Richards added. "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."

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