Never mind the two and four

Ever wonder what makes Charlie Watts’ sound so damn powerful on that little drum kit? Well perhaps it’s his highly original style of play that includes the omission of the hi-hat on the downbeats of two and four. A closer look reveals how he holds his right hand up on those beats, hitting the snare drum with his left hand producing a loud pop like a gunshot when the stick hits the snare. It is something that stands out in the Rolling Stones sound and it’s also an incredibly simple solution to stretching the volume of the kit. It also goes beyond any expected form of normalcy. In fact, to the untrained eye it appears that Watts is simply unable to play with both hands simultaneously. I must admit that I found it curious in my youth and have only begun to appreciate this unique approach. It’s easier said than done to discipline oneself to ignore the downbeats of two and four. It is contrary to most drummer’s muscle memory. That said, it works perfectly for Watts’ style and gives the Stones a distinctive swing. Here is a video of Watts using this technique:

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