Chichester musician remembers his dear friend, the ever-stylish Charlie Watts

Chichester musician Alan Clayton – a friend to The Rolling Stones for 40 years – has paid tribute to the late, great, ever-stylish Charlie Watts.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 4:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 4:08 pm
Alan and Keith

Watts, drummer to The Stones for nearly 60 years, died on August 24, aged 80.

Alan, who moved to Chichester a couple of years ago, will offer a few words in his memory when he brings his band The Dirty Strangers to Chichester’s Chichester Inn on Saturday, September 11.

“I met Charlie just after I met Keith (Richards) and Ronnie (Wood). The last time I saw Charlie, which was at Stones rehearsals, he give me a set of cymbals. That was a year, a year and a half ago, before Covid. Charlie’s spirit lives on in my studio.

“Charlie was just a normal person which is the biggest compliment you can give anybody. Whenever you were talking to him, he was interested in what you were talking about, and he was funny. He was very funny. He was one of the funniest people in The Stones. He had a very dry sense of humour.”

Alan was a decorator back in the early 1980s when he first got to know Charlie, Keith and Ronnie: “And I was doing a scaffolding job in the Kings Road. People knew that I knew The Stones, and the foreman came up to me and said ‘You know Charlie Watts, don’t you?’ He said ‘Charlie has just gone into that shop there. I am sure he will be pleased to see you when he comes out.’”

The foreman’s point was that there are plenty of people who claim to know The Stones…

“Charlie’s jag that he was driven around in was parked there, and when he came out, I shouted down to him from the rooftops. Charlie said ‘What are you up to?’ I said ‘Not a lot’, and so he said ‘Why don’t you come round for a cup of coffee then?’

“In front of the foreman I took off my overalls, left them on the scaffolding, slid down the scaffolding and got in the jag and drove off with Charlie!”

Charlie came from Wembley, “just down the road from where I came from. I remember when I was very young and enthusiastic, I invited him to come to a pub gig we were doing. He rang me up saying he couldn’t make it, but thanked me very much for inviting him. He was like that. Some people you talk to are just waiting for the next person. Charlie was never like that.

“He was just a lovely person. He was funny and he was very stylish. He was always looking at your shoes to make sure that they were polished. He was a very, very stylish man. I was always wary about my shoes in his presence!”

Alan first got to know Keith Richards through his friend Joe Seabrook who was Keith’s bodyguard: “He introduced me to Keith and 40 years later I am still his friend.

“I moved down to Chichester two or three years ago. The thing was that our house in London I bought 40 years ago and was worth a lot of money 40 years later. We decided to cash in and move down and move away from the city.

“Keith said ‘Stay at my spare place at Redlands’, at West Wittering: “We lived in the bungalow next door to Redlands until we found a place. In that seven months we found the place where we now live in Chichester. It’s a lovely place. We have got the sea. We have got everything there.”

As for the gig, Alan will certainly say a few words in memory of Charlie: “It will be our first gig since we lost him.”

As for The Dirty Strangers, they are a rock and roll band. They’ve been going for 43 years and have got five albums out, on one of which Keith played piano. They are currently working on their sixth.

Tickets can be bought at Time Machine record store in Chichester who are putting on the gig, as well as The Chichester Inn.