This is a photo I took of Charlie Watts in Toronto in 1996. That summer I drove to Toronto with my husband for a family reunion. Before leaving, however, I called Tickmaster Canada with one thing in mind-to get tickets to see The Charlie Watts Quintet. Charlie was going to be appearing at the Montreal Jazz Festival as well as at Massey Hall in Toronto several days later. I ended up getting tickets to see Charlie at Massey Hall. They were 10th row center, not bad I thought. We went to the Montreal Jazz Festival first & saw several great shows. The Master Musicians of Jajouka were playing there as well, a group with a Stones-related past. The Charlie show in Toronto was July 6th 1996, and I arrived at Massey Hall a few hours early & to my dismay NO ONE was around. Finally much closer to showtime, people started to gather in front of Massey Hall. The crowd was eclectic, a mix of 30's-60's, some jazz fans, some Stones fans. Once inside, someone from the balcony yelled "I think I bust a button on me trousers, hope they don't fall down!" Charlie was decked out in a white dinner jacket & Bernard Fowler, who sang for the quintet, was dressed in black. Charlie looked a bit embarassed to be the center of attention that night, but he did well appearing in front of the microphone to introduce his band. They played mostly old standards, many from the album Long Ago and Far Away, which Charlie was promoting. Bernard sang beautifully & Charlie drummed to perfection, a master of the brushes. I snapped photos all through the show, but since I didn't have a telephoto lens, the photos didn't get that great-plus the darkness of the hall didn't help. At the intermission I did manage to get a few great shots of Charlie's drumkit. Then when the show ended I waited by the backstage door with a small crowd of other fans until Charlie appeared. The security guy kept assuring us that Charlie would not sign autographs & that we would be disappointed as he would bolt directly into his van & be whisked away to his hotel. That didn't really matter to me. All I wanted was to get a glimpse the World's Greatest Drummer in an up close & personal way. I remember being SO NERVOUS that my hands were shaking & I was debating whether to snap a photo of Charlie or to try to get my program autographed. When Charlie appeared, time stood still & I hurridly snapped a photo when he was only inches in front of me. He was so close it turned out a bit blurred! Charlie was quite gracious & he did sign a few autographs for the fans. I went around to the other side of his van & stood beside his window & snapped one more photo- unfortunately it is of the back of his head! And as the van pulled away, Charlie turned & waved to us, which was sweet of him! So that was my Charlie moment in time. I kept thinking "what if this were Keith?", I'd have probably passed out from the excitement!

[Charlie's Drums]


December 1997



Email: bluelena@stones.com