A well-respected session musician who had already been due to replace Charlie Watts on the upcoming Rolling Stones tour before the drummer’s death aged 80 is set to fill in when the gigs begin in just a month’s time.
Steve Jordan, who has worked with the band for 35 years, was announced three weeks ago as the replacement for Watts when it emerged he would not be well enough to take part in the Rolling Stones USA No Filter Tour.
Tickets are being offered for up to £3,000 after the death of Watts on Monday, with the Stones set to embark on a 13-date journey across the US after the final leg of the world tour was postponed last year amid the pandemic.
Watts had already been due to miss the tour, with Jordan announced on August 5 as his temporary replacement. The first date is due to be September 26 in St Louis, Missouri, and it will end on November 20 in Austin, Texas.
Jordan, 64, is also expected to travel with Sir Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood to Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Nashville, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Tampa, Dallas, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Detroit.
The drummer had been due to fill in at Watts’s own request, and has huge experience as a singer, songwriter and producer having collaborated with the Stones since 1986 and with Richards on a number of his solo projects.
Emmy and Grammy winner Jordan worked on Richards’ solo records Main Offender in 1992 and Crosseyed Heart in 2015, and was also involved in his side-project Keith Richards And The X-Pensive Winos.
Jordan said earlier this month when it was announced he would fill in: ‘It is an absolute honour and a privilege to be Charlie’s understudy and I am looking forward to rehearsing with Mick, Keith and Ronnie. No one will be happier than me to give up my seat on the drum-riser as soon as Charlie tells me he is good to go.’
Jordan has also worked with Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Billy Joel, Stevie Nicks, John Mayer and BB King – and has played in the house band for US TV shows Late Night with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live.
Tickets for the upcoming Stones tour are being offered for thousands of pounds – with the most expensive one currently available on resale website Viagogo is £2,976 ($4,088) for the Atlanta date on November 11 – while there is also a £46 ($64) ticket on sale for the same event for £1,262 ($1,733), which is 27 times the face value.
Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (left, in Pasadena, California, in August 2019) was already not due to take part in the new tour – and be replaced by well-respected session musician Steve Jordan (right, in Nashville, Tennessee, in October 2018)
The Rolling Stones USA No Filter Tour is due to resume in a month’s time with a final 13-date journey across the US
Keith Richards with Steve Jordan in 1989. Jordan worked with Richards on his solo records, including Main Offender in 1992
Jordan has also worked with Eric Clapton 0 pictured during the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Bridgeview, Illinois, in July 2007
Some fans are speculating over whether this could be the Stones’ last tour, with one saying: ‘I think the Rolling Stones might go on one final tour in memory of Watts.’
Three weeks ago on August 5, it was announced that Watts would miss the band’s tour because he was recovering from an unspecified medical procedure.
Rolling Stones No Filter USA 2021 Tour dates
The Rolling Stones are due to perform a 13-date tour starting later this month.
The No Filter tour begins on September 26 in St Louis, Missouri, and finishes on November 20 in Austin, Texas.
The tour was rescheduled from 2020, but the shows in Vancouver, Louisville, Cleveland and Buffalo were canceled – and another three were added in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New Orleans.
Rolling Stones No Filter USA Tour
- September 26 – St. Louis, MO @ The Dome at America’s Center
- September 30 – Charlotte, NC @ Bank Of America Stadium
- October 4 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Heinz Field
- October 9 – Nashville, TN @ Nissan Stadium
- October 13 – New Orleans, LA @ New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
- October 17 – Los Angeles, CA @ SoFi Stadium – n/a
- October 24 – Minneapolis, MN @ U.S. Bank Stadium
- October 29 – Tampa, FL @ Raymond James Stadium
- November 2 – Dallas, TX @ Cotton Bowl Stadium
- November 6 – Las Vegas, NV @ Allegiant Stadium
- November 11 – Atlanta, GA @ Mercedes-Benz Stadium
- November 15 – Detroit, MI @ Ford Field
- November 20 – Austin, TX @ Circuit of The Americas
A spokesman for Watts said at the time he was ‘unlikely to be available for the resumption of the Rolling Stones USA No Filter Tour this fall’.
The spokesman added that rehearsals were due to be ‘starting in a couple of weeks’, which suggests that they would have been underway by now.
Sir Mick Jagger had also said the Stones were looking forward to welcoming Watts back ‘as soon as he is fully recovered’.
The band has played more than 40 tours, making them one of the most enduring and successful rock acts of all time.
Watts said at the time: ‘For once my timing has been a little off. I am working hard to get fully fit but I have today accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while.’
Stones fans who had tickets for the gigs were left devastated by Watts’s death, with one saying: ‘I can’t believe Charlie Watts died only a few weeks after I bought tickets to see the Rolling Stones. I’m f***ing crying y’all. I am not OK.’
Another said: ‘I was hoping to get tickets to see the Rolling Stones in November! Now Charlie Watts is dead. I’m not OK right now.’
A third fan added: ‘I have tickets to The Rolling Stones in September. I was determined to see them before they die. He will be missed! Hope they still do their tour.’
Tony Barrell, a British journalist and author of books including Born To Drum: The Truth About The World’s Greatest Drummers, suggested the band may consider calling it a day following the loss of their friend.
He said: ‘When I heard they had to replace the drummer for their new tour, I thought, ‘Oh, can they just carry on?’ Bands have done it, bands have lost important members and carried on.
‘If I was the Stones I’d say ‘no’ and jack it in out of respect for Charlie. Because it wouldn’t ever sound the same without him.’
Barrell said The Rolling Stones ‘could go on forever’ and pointed to the band continuing following the death of their founder and original leader Brian Jones in 1969.
However, he believes the remaining members – Sir Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood – should bring the curtain down.
Watts with Ronnie Wood, Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in Detroit in February 2006
The most expensive ticket currently available on resale website Viagogo is £2,976 ($4,088) for the Atlanta date on November 11
There is also a £46 ($64) ticket on sale on Viagogo for the Atlanta date for £1,262 ($1,733), which is 27 times the face value
He said: ‘They could carry on again. I don’t know, it remains to be seen what Jagger, Richards and the rest of them think, really. But if I was them, out of respect, I’d call it a day.’
Watts was known for his sophisticated and inventive playing on classic tracks including Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Honky Tonk Women and Brown Sugar.
Barrell credited him with helping keep the band together, offering ballast to counter the other members’ more exuberant styles. ‘The Stones respected him enormously and he respected them,’ he said.
‘He was, in a way, the Ringo of the band. Because Ringo is also a great swinging drummer with a quite unusual technique and Charlie was as well. He didn’t need a massive drum kit, like the great prop drummers, he just needed eight or nine bits.
‘He used the same cymbals for decades but he knew how to play them and he got what he wanted out of them every time. He was a relentless timekeeper and a perfectionist.’
And it was not only musically where Watts’s more reserved style helped the band, according to Barrell.
He said: ‘It’s often the drummer’s role to be a diplomat in the band, stop people fighting. And Charlie would smooth things over with a bit of dry humour and he was a great arbiter.’
Asked to sum up Watts’s legacy, Barrell said: ‘He’s a towering example of how to play fantastic drums in a rock and roll band. That’s his legacy, I think.’
Sir Mick, Richards and Ronnie Wood have all paid poignant tributes to Watts following the drummer’s death.
The quartet had been together since 1963, working on era-defining tracks including (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Paint It Black, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Brown Sugar.
Watts, who died ‘peacefully’ at a London hospital on Monday surrounded by his family, was considered the most mild-mannered of the Stones, providing an essential counterbalance to his more exuberant bandmates.
Wood shared a picture of himself and Watts on Twitter, writing alongside it: ‘I love you my fellow Gemini – I will dearly miss you – you are the best.’
Sir Mick paid tribute to his colleague of almost 60 years, sharing a picture of Watts smiling while seated behind a drumkit. The 78-year-old frontman did not add a caption.
In his tribute, Richards, 77, posted a picture of Watts’ drumkit with a ‘Closed’ sign hanging on it. He did not include a caption either. Their tributes came as the rest of the rock world lined up to honour Watts.
Sir Paul McCartney described Watts as a ‘fantastic drummer, steady as a rock’, while Sir Elton John called him ‘the ultimate drummer’ in tributes posted on social media.
Watts’ counterpart in the Beatles, Sir Ringo Starr, also tweeted a picture, writing: ‘God bless Charlie Watts, we’re going to miss you man, peace and love to the family, Ringo.’
Queen drummer Roger Taylor said on Instagram: ‘How sad, we’ve lost a true gentleman. The immaculate beating heart of the Rolling Stones.’
Watts grew up in Wembley, North West London, and as a youngster was listening to music from greats like Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker.
He said it was the record Walking Shoes – by saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and drummer Chico Hamilton – that inspired him to want to become a drummer.
As a teenager, he was invited to join Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, where he would meet a young Sir Mick, who occasionally sang with the band.
In 1989, alongside the rest of The Rolling Stones he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2006 was voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame by Modern Drummer magazine.
Watts, a lover of cricket, married his girlfriend Shirley – who was a sculpture student at the Royal College of Art – in 1964 and the pair had one daughter, Seraphina.