Ringo Starr remembered an amusing encounter he had with Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts at a party at Starr’s home in the ’70s. The night also included an appearance from Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham.
“I had a drum kit up in the attic – it was like a cinema attic, music, whatever you want to do up there,” Starr said during a recent press conference. “Charlie came, and so did John Bonham. We’ve got three drummers, just hanging out. Bonham got on the kit. But because it was just like … you know, it’s not like onstage, where you nail them down, so they’re steady. It was just like there. So as he was playing, the bass drum was hopping away from him.”
Watts and Starr stepped up to hold down the bass drum down for Bonham as he played. “You think, ‘Ah, man! That would have been a great little video, a TikTok or a photo [that] would have gone worldwide!'” Starr said. “But in the ‘70s, I had parties, and you’ll never find any photos because I wouldn’t let you take photos, you know, in my house. But I always think, That would have been a great shot to have.”
In a 2005 interview with Rolling Stone, Watts cited Bonham as an example of how the dynamic of close-knit rock bands can shift dramatically depending on the drummer. Even so, replacements don’t necessarily spell the end of a group, he said. When asked if he could imagine the Stones continuing to play without him one day, he said yes, “if Mick [Jagger] and Keith [Richards] wanted to do it.”
“There’s no reason why they shouldn’t, if people turn up to see them,” Watts, who died last month, said. “The greatest thing, I suppose, is the combination of the four of us. The Stones is that. Technical ability is another thing. It’s like the Who. They’ve had some fine drummers. They’ve got one now — Ringo Starr’s son Zak. He’s great. He’s not Keith Moon. That was a personality. Pete Townshend and Keith — they were fantastically mad, the pair of them, onstage. John Bonham was the same with Led Zeppelin — it was a sound, thunderous.”
Starr recalled his relationship with Watts fondly, noting he was a “great guy” and “a lot of fun.” The pair lived near each other in London and would occasionally run into one another at events. “He had a harder band than I did to keep together,” Starr said. “He was a beautiful human being. He was like the quiet man.”
Change the World, Starr’s new EP, will be released Friday and includes cameos by Joe Walsh, Toto members Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather, Linda Perry, Trombone Shorty and others. “Though I’m making the EP for me, I get to play with all of these different people and have a lot of fun,” Starr said of the project. “I’m not here to be tortured. I’m here to have fun and play with good musicians and hang. That’s what it is.”
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