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Not everyone can say that they sat backstage and took drugs (caffeine) with a Rolling Stone. But I did.... and what a pleasure.
Considered to be the worlds most widely consumed psychoactive drug. There are several known mechanisms of action to explain the effects of caffeine. The most prominent is that it prevents the onset of drowsiness, and for that reason alone caffeine, as in coffee and tea, has been my drug of choice for many decades now.
For anyone interested that means a cup taken first thing each morning, with that one becoming two whilst on tour, as I’ll also gulp down a smallish amount of either twenty minutes or so before stepping on stage. It perks me up, that’s for sure, it also helps me focus. Or so I feel.
That brings me to Charlie Watts. A gentleman, artist, horse breeder, cricket fanatic, jazz bandleader and one of the world’s greatest drummers. Charlie of course is and was known most famously for being a Rolling Stone.
For that reason the news of his passing this week has led to voluminous outpourings, each one I have come across detailing how much he will be missed by those who knew and worked with him.
Over the years Simple Minds have worked with the Rolling Stones on a number of occasions, mostly at various European festivals. It’s always an honour, albeit very surreal. How come? Duh…Because they are the f*cking ‘Rolling Stones.’ And whilst others might refer to them as “Rock Royalty etc” - on a good night I have found myself thinking that what I was witnessing was more comparable to ‘Zen Masters.’ A mere quirk of fate. You don’t have to do anything to be born into royalty. Whereas be “a master” at anything? I don’t need to tell you that it takes colossal effort and sacrifice.
Other memories, particularly of Charlie? Well, we once shared a studio complex in the centre of Manhattan during the mid eighties, and although the rooms we worked in were of course separate, we nevertheless shared the main area where they would hang out for hours, to the extent I always wondered how they got any work done?
Nevertheless to say that the Rolling Stones could not have been friendlier, even encouraging in some ways, is an understatement. And as individual characters, they were almost as impossible not to like, as it is impossible for me not to love the feel of say, Gimme Shelter, ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ and ‘Brown Sugar’ in particular.
Years later. Backstage at a festival site in Belgium, I was thrilled to be greeted by Charlie who informed me that he was having ‘A good old fashioned cup of tea’ - China teapot and all - “If you fancy joining me?”
I certainly did fancy joining him. What a pleasure that was!
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