Less than two weeks after the Rolling Stones arrived in America for the first time back in June 1964, they headed to The Mike Douglas Show to perform their cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.” This was the pinnacle of Beatlemania, and the segment features predictable interview questions (“Do you know the Beatles, gentlemen?”), but it begins with Douglas shaking hands with each member of the band and asking for their names.
As always, Charlie Watts is the most impeccably dressed member of the band, since none of the others bothered to wear a tie. He also says his name so softly that Douglas has him repeat it three times. “Charlie Waltz? Watts?”
Douglas then brings a couple of starstruck female fans onto the stage to shriek and gush, but Watts keeps his hands behind his back and looks quite uncomfortable. He was already dating Shirley Ann Shepherd and they’d marry less than four months later. Miraculously, especially considering the track record of his bandmates, they stayed together for the rest of Watts’ life. A lot of people are hurting right now, but her pain must be unimaginable.
At the time of this Mike Douglas Show appearance, the Stones were just another British Invasion band that came to America in the aftermath of the Beatles. There was no reason to think they’d be any more special than the Dave Clark Five or Gerry and the Pacemakers, and their set was almost all covers like “Route 66” and “Walking the Dog.” But they began releasing original singles early the following year like “The Last Time” and “Play With Fire.” By the time “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” hit in June 1965, it was clear they were operating on a higher level than nearly all of their competitors.
They went through countless changes in the decades that followed, and Watts was the only constant presence in the band besides Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Seeing them take the stage without him next month will be very sad and surreal, but it’s likely he’d want them to continue. They’re also celebrating their 60th anniversary next year and that deserves a celebration of some sort, but it’ll be very bittersweet with Charlie.