The Rolling Stones second UK album cover.

At Least The Stones Still Have Charlie Watts

“Would You Let Your Daughter Marry A Rolling Stone?” can now be replaced with “Would You Let Your Insurance Company Insure A Rolling Stone?”

I just came across this article and found nothing of it to be troubling, surprising or disturbing despite the headline.

The Guardian; Rolling Stones Settle Insurance Claim

The article discusses the insurance settlement related to the tour cancellation following the suicide death of Mick Jagger’s long-time girlfriend L’Wren Scott. It discloses that Mick has had some emotional issues related her sad passing which not only isn’t surprising, but should be an expected reaction to the sudden death of an intimate partner. It also discloses the inability of Keith Richards and Ron Woods to secure any sort of insurance policies on their lives resulting from their long-term addictions and the serious health issues related to those additions. Also of note was that Jagger’s former wives, Bianca and Jerry Hall are both covered under his insurance policy. Good for them, especially Jerry who I have much sympathy for battling Mick’s childish inclinations for way too many years.

The Stones are upset about the personal information being exposed from this policy dispute which is a bit odd considering Keith Richards’ recent tell-all autobiography and all the other nasty personal bits the Stones never bothered to even hide in the closet in the first place.  For example, the sex and drugs, and drugs and oh yeah, did I mention drugs? On the other hand, it would appear the band are a bit sensitive when it comes to the public’s intimate knowledge of their day-to-day health issues which, one might suppose, come with the territory of being 70+ year old former substance-abusing rock and rollers. I guess the then 27-year-old Keith in 1971 couldn’t possibly imagine how his innocent love of opiates might make functioning as a guitar-toting senior citizen rock god, a bit dodgy.

If I were to fathom a guess as to why any of this would bother them, I would say it comes down to perception and money. First, they need to maintain a professional image as the tough-as-nails bad boys of rock and roll they’ve always promoted and personal details revealing them as old and frail might derail aspects of the Stones career going forward. Noted health issues might lead concert promoters, lawyers, agents, etc. to use this information as a negotiating tactic with Stones management to extract more favorable touring deals for themselves at the expense of the Stones. I could be totally wrong about this but I suspect there might be something to it.

Secondly, along with this, these personal details about their health are allowed to fester, it might derail the Stones image amongst the general public, possibly causing slower ticket sales because it’s just not very “rock and roll” to be impeded by age and health issues. In other words, if the Stones are perceived to be physically losing a step or two, some of the concert-going public might feel a bit differently about plopping down $1500 for a pair of floor seats at the Garden. And if a ticket to a Stones show gets attached to the idea that the Stones are effectively now an oldies act, and their overall image in the concert industry diminishes,  the value of their ticket prices might also diminish, changing the perception that it isn’t that “hot” of a ticket and their future income from touring and other endeavors might be potentially compromised. Again, this is the nexus of perception and money.

This does not change how I personally feel about the Stones as 70-year-old rock stars as it’s abundantly clear to me that both Keith and Ronnie have lost more than a few steps due to their addictions and overall deterioration of their musicianship through the last decade and a half. Mick, on the other hand, still sounds pretty darn good to me and doesn’t appear to have lost anything physically as he moves and acts like a 20 year-old on stage. Mick, if anything, suffers at this point from a lack of coolness mainly as result of trying so damn hard, and succeeding, to act and look (wrinkles notwithstanding) 40 years younger than he is. Good for him right? But he’s just not cool to me anymore. Keith is still cool but he really looks more and more frail by the minute. Ronnie, since joining the Stones in 1975 has been Robin to Keith’s Batman and everyone knows, sidekicks are just not that cool. They merely bask in the coolness of their leader.

Charlie Watts, on the other hand, is the coolest, baddest 73 year-old mo-fo on the planet. Charlie doesn’t give a damn what you, I or anyone thinks of him. The man punched Mick Jagger in the face for knocking on his hotel room door after all. Now that’s rock-and-roll and I like it.

8 thoughts on “At Least The Stones Still Have Charlie Watts”

  1. Mike, nice comment on the Stones. Full of truth and we all know the truth hurts, especially 70 plus year old rock stars. Seems they need a reality check.

    1. The Stones organization employs themselves and a lot of other people. So a lot is riding on these guys hitting the road on a fairly regular basis. The reality check will be when one of them leaves the material plane. The question will be whether Mick gets a replacement and soldier on? Keith and Ronnie are not well and either of them, being uninsurable, is not a good omen.

  2. Hello Michael,
    This is a great article and so much truth in it, I personally think The Stones should call it a day or should I say a few decades and hang it up, at this point I can truly say if I was given free tickets to see The Stones I would give them to someone, I like good old Charlie Watts he has always been to me like George Harrison was for The Beatles the quiet one, but can still bang the skins!

    1. Thanks Willie! Charlie truly is the coolest, as far as I’m concerned.

      What I’ve noticed in videos of the Stones live in the past decade is how much Keith’s guitar playing is falling apart. He not only doesn’t look physically well to me, but his hands just are not what they once were and the rest of the band is carrying him at this point. The article I referenced mentioned some degree of arthritis and I can see it in his gnarled hands and the sound produced by his playing. But I don’t think Keith will ever pack it in, and so long as Mick and Charlie want to keep going, it will be what it will be and it’ll be up to whoever is surrounding Keith to keep him sounding marginally up to speed, (pun intended).

  3. Hello Michael,
    The Stones are sure not like Paul McCartney -At The Speed Of Sound ha ha!!, really if you look at McCartney sure you can tell he is in his 70’s I think he aged well but he can still play and sing well and still sells out and I’ve always thought The Beatles had alot more class than The Stones!!

    1. McCartney’s held up a little better probably because of his lifestyle which has always been vastly different than Mick, Keith and Ronnie’s. As far as singing goes, I think Mick still holds his own just fine and puts on a show as well as he probably ever has. Keith’s age and lifestyle have really caught up to him now. I honestly can’t see him doing too much more touring in the future. Even now, the Stones don’t exactly hit the touring circuit as long and hard as they once did. It’s no accident as I’m sure Keith has become aware of his limitations.

  4. Hello Michael,
    Mick Jagger can still hold his own as far as his vocals and he sure can move around on stage pretty good as for Keith Richards Time Is Not On His Side, he looks like he is ready for a nursing home and truly he has trouble playing like he did in the younger days but like you said life style comes into play a lot McCartney looks Healthy and can still play pretty good his vocals are somewhat weak but he looks alive!

  5. Hello Michael,
    I didn’t know where to post this on your web site, but here it is did you read where Lou Reed said he didn’t like The Beatles he said they were garbage and said groups like The Beatles and Doors wouldn’t even go up to the ankles of The Velvet Underground as far as music and popularity, he said that he was going to take music where it’s never been before, as for me Lou Reed was o.k. I’m not a big fan of The Velvet Underground but I truly think he had no clue as to the genius of Lennon & McCartney as music writers and performers or The Beatles as a whole, what do you think about his comment.

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