The Rolling Stones’ Most Iconic Charlie Watts-Style Drum Tracks

During a 58-year career with the Rolling Stones, drummer Charlie Watts helped create the band’s heavier sound that set them apart early on and would come to define them. He was instrumental in driving the music and anchoring the beats, serving every song like no other.

Throughout the British Invaders, the prolific drummer was never known for being too eccentric or too often self-destructive like The Who’s Keith Moon, or for being the gregarious of a rather shy quartet like Ringo Starr of The Beatles. Instead, Watts’ acclaim came from being steady, composed and unwavering behind the kit.

To honor him on the first anniversary of his death (August 24), here are the top ten most iconic Rolling Stones drum sounds, courtesy of drummer drummer, the late Charlie Watts.

1. “If You Can’t Rock Me” (1974)

The drums immediately launch this intense track. Confident and catchy, Watts commands this lesser-known tune from the Stones.

2. “The Ape Man” (1969)

Thundering through a flicker of keys and steady bass hits, Watts gives this song so much texture.

3. “Under cover of night” (1983)

The 80s took no prisoners, the Rolling Stones being no exception. However, Watts seemed immune to the decade’s penchant for synthetic drums and closed snare drums that went off like gunfire. This track had four backing percussionists, but Watts remained central to the overall sound.

4. “The Moon Is Up” (1994)

Every drum hit is warm, bright and full. With smoother production and clean instrumentation, “Moon Is Up” is the perfect vehicle for Watt’s expert drumming.

5. “Get Out of My Cloud” (1965)

From the beginning of the song, the drums dominate. It’s the steady 4/4 pattern that never falters throughout the song that makes it so effective.

6. “Sympathy for the Devil” (1968)

A flurry of acoustic conga and maracas rhythms give rise to the incredibly inventive drumming of “Sympathy for the Devil.” Watts said of the song, “We tried a lot of different ways to play it. In the end, I just played a Latin jazz atmosphere.

7. “I Miss You” (1978)

Drums and bass seem to strut hand in hand in this rhythmic melody. According to Watts, one song was heavily influenced by nightclubs, “Miss You” has that signature four-on-the-floor beat.

8. “(I Can’t Get Any) Satisfaction” (1965)

Never faltering, not for a second, Watt’s drive beats full throttle in this Stones classic. Tireless precision makes his drumming so impressive.

9. “Give Me Shelter” (1969)

Watts makes a big splash on “Gimme Shelter.” A haunting track, Watts injects light and life into it with every beat.

10. “The Honky Tonk Women” (1978)

An instantly recognizable song from the opening lick, Watt’s drumming doesn’t get much better than “Honky Tonk Women.” It carries the sonic anthem from beginning to end.

Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

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