mardi, août 17, 2004

Charlie - Télérama - Décembre 1998

"I hated the 60s and 70s"
By Frederic Lecomte Télérama,
December 2, 1998 (translated from French)

(snip short intro)

FL : For the last 10 years, you are the one who gets the biggest ovations each time Mick Jagger introduces the Stones members on stage. How do you explain this popularity ?

CW : It is because of the way Mick introduces me, isn't it ? (laughs) These ovations are a huge compliment, but I certainly won't try to explain this popularity. When you start thinking about those things, you get crazy.

FL : No Security is distinct from other live albums, as it includes some songs for the first time in a live version.

CW : So ? Mick and Keith wrote about five or six hundred songs since the Stones started. We naturally draw on this vast repertoire. In a concert, there is always a list of songs the audience always ask for. If you go to a Ringo Starr's concert, you inevitably wish to hear him sing Yellow Submarine... That being said, we regularly try to play songs we rarely play. Hence the presence of Sister Morphine, Memory Motel, or The Last Time.

FL : How would you define your position inside the Rolling Stones ?

CW :[long silence] My position ? Like any drummer : to settle the rythm, to keep musical cohesion between each instrument, and to provide a platfrom for the others.

FL : Many people consider you as the eminence grise of the group, the "wise" stone...

CW : Wide, I don't believe. Better say upright. But I never look at myself, and refuse to analyze the way people receive me. It has no importance.

FL : What is your relation with two personnalities as strong as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards ?

CW : No one is closer to me, and I hope this feeling is mutual. Their personnalities are what they are. You must live inside their spheres, follow their directions.

FL : Do you like tours as much as you did 20 or 30 years ago ?

CW : I am unable to remember anything in the 60s or the 70s ! All those years spent on the road finally form a long and unique show. From our last tour, I remember only a neverending line of suitcases and a crowd of people telling me all the time where I have to go and what I have to do.

FL : And your very first concert with the Rolling Stones, at the Flamingo Jazz Club in London, on 01/14/63 ?

CW : No memory at all, except that I had played in this place before I was with the Rolling StoneS. To remember vaguely some event from the past, Keith, or formerly Bill Wyman, had to tell me about it. On the other hand, I remember very well our first english tour, in 1963, in cinemas and small theaters, when we shared the bill with the Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley and Little Richard. It was wonderful.

FL : For thirty years, you combined your drumming with Bill Wyman's bass. Did his leaving in 1993 change the rythm pattern of the group ?

CW : I miss him terribly, even if we are still in touch by phone. But on stage, Darryl Jones is such a gifted musician, and such a kind person that it is very easy for me to play and tour with him. If we had nowadays a bassist with a too strong personnality, it would be unbearable. On tour, you have to share each moment, 24 hours a day, to give a 2 hours show. And about determining if Darryl Jones is a better or worse bassist than Bill Wyman is to me a stupid issue. Each of dule Ellington's Orchestra lineup was unique and magic, but no individual musician was irreplaceable. The Rolling Stones are Mick and Keith. The strength and the essence of the group depend on their happiness and their longevity. It doesn't matter who plays bass or drums with them : as long as they will be together, the Stones will exist.

FL : What is the drums part you are the most proud of ?

CW : Maybe Not Fade Away, on the Stripped album. But it is hard to say, because I never listen to the Rolling Stones albums.

FL : In his book, Stone Alone, Bill Wyman says you are the only one in the group who never took any drugs in the 60s and who always remained faith full to your wife. What did motivate this attitude ?

CW : Having always loved my wife, unconditionnaly ! Actually, I hated the 60s and the 70s. I found the music awful in this era, and even if I was in the heart of the action, I never saw a revolution. Only the birth of my daughter made me happy. All these little girls screaming during our concerts, and the "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll" supposed way of life always seemed ridiculous and unhealthy to me. About dope, I caught back during the 80s, taking tons of powder. I was the first one surprised, my wife did not understand, but the most amazed was Keith Richards ! I had no taste for anything anymore, I was dispising myself. I had gone adrift at more than 40...

FL : Had you imagined having such a long career in music ?

CW : Not at all. Before being in the Stones, I used to back different artists as oportunities happened. In the very early 60s, Alexis Korner had asked me to play drums in the Blues Incorporated. Meeting him was determining : that day I joined my first group and met my wife ! Alexis was a true catalyst, habing a sixth sense for tracking down exceptionnal musicians, like Jack Bruce, for example, incredibly gifted bassist, singer, and composer. At that time, I had never heard the sound of a harmonica, and for me, Blues was when Charlie Parker was sad. And at that moment, Cyril Davies, a singer and harmonicist, arrives from Chicago and gets in the group. I had no idea about what was happening... The whole english musical scene was exploding thanks to Alexis Korner's visions. That was when a little guy left his Cheltenham countryside, a guitar under one arm and a bootleneck on a finger. His name is Brian jones and the first thing he does when he arrives in London going to see the Blues Incorporated in concert. This is how I met him. Around Alexis also was a guy named Mick Jagger, who sometimes climbed onstage to sing a song while his pal Keith Richards was watching...

FL : You say you don't like rock'n'roll, never listen to the Stones records... wouldn't you have prefered remaining an advertising designer ?

CW : No ! I always wanted to be a drummer, but I was convinced I would never be able to. My dream was to become Kenny Clarke and to play for the great masters of Jazz. But that's a different kettle of fish ! When I was 17, in 1958, I went to Paris to see my idol play with Bud Powell, a piano genius, and Pierre Michelot, a bassist who had played with Django Rheinhardt. This world was my universe, and I loved these musicians. In the Paris of the 1950s, jazz was not alusic reserved for black people, as it was in the USA, and this is why your capital was at that time the ultimate place for jazz musicians. I remember a very romantic ambiance, I remember meeting Kenny Clarke in St Germain des Pres, a flamboyant man who lived a true romance with Paris. Myself, I had the feeling to live in a Fred Astaire film.

FL : The Rolling Stones played blues, rock, rythm'n'blues, soul music, disco, reggae, but never any jazz. Did you ever suggest to try it ?

CW : No, I just advised Mick to invite Joshua Redman to come to play on Waiting
On A Friend during our last tour. I also suggested to invite Miles Davis on some of our song, but unfortunately, it didn't happen... The only jazz musician Mick invited on his own idea was Sonny Rollins, during the studio session, in Paris, for Waiting On A Friend, in 1980. Sincerely, I didn't think Rollins would accept. But he did it, and what's best, he loved it ! It had been enchanting to be able to play with the one who I think is the last giant of saxophone. As a simple listener, I always prefered Sonny Rollins to John Coltrane, whose success did shade many sax players.

FL : After always playing in gigantic places like the Stade de France, don't you sometimes have the impression to be more of a funfair beast in a giant rock"n"roll circus ?

CW : I feel more like a little mouse. It is a big show, and my most important part is to make so that Keith gets his share of applause. And those giant stadiums really are not made for music. All this, after all, is just comedy.

Thanks to Thierry who translated this text ! :) All rights reserved for respective copyright holders. Any content will be removed at the request of any copyright holder.