Fred: As I've said to many musicians, it doesn't matter whether you are KISS playing a sold out show at the local arena or whether you are the Holiday Inn band on a Tuesday night playing Jimmy Buffett covers. Millions of people would give their left arm to be us even on our worst day. I try to remember that. I try to be conscious of the fact that I am in a rarefied position when I'm on stage.
"In this episode, Fred LeBlanc of Cowboy Mouth talks about the impact of having a huge hit ("Jenny Says") along with several other hits, what it means for a band's career and corresponding record label politics. Plus treating the live experience like a gospel tent revival, playing Madison Square Garden, advice about enjoying the moment and being a frontman who happens to be playing drums."
Fred: Thanks everyone so much for inquiring about us during and after Ida! We have the most awesome fanbase in the entire world and your concern is very appreciated! We and our loved ones all made it through OK, thank goodness. However, as I mentioned during the last couple of shows, our merchandise storage area was wrecked by a fallen tree, so we were unable to sell merchandise this weekend. Here’s a link to the merchandise site -- https://cowboymouth.bigcartel.com/ -- along with all the awesome new stuff we have. Check it out. I really think it’s a great new line of T-shirts and everything. And thanks again for being such a great group of folks!
Fred: The story goes that in the mid-1980s as the Rolling Stones struggled with internal conflicts, Charlie Watts (the drummer since day one) was also dealing with family issues that were threatening his personal stability. During this time he drank too much and developed a temporary dependence on some terrible substances that he thankfully overcame soon after.
One night while the band was having business meetings during the days, Jagger had a bit of a bender and, while drunk, called Charlie’s hotel room and screamed into the phone, “where’s my f’ing drummer?!? Tell him to get his a££ up here!“
After Jagger hung up, Charlie took a deep breath then proceeded to take a shower, shave, put on one of his best suits (he was always impeccably groomed away from the stage), and took the elevator up to Jagger’s floor.
He got to Mick’s room and knocked on the door. When Jagger answered, Charlie greeted Mick by punching him squarely in the face and telling him, “don’t you ever call me your f’ing drummer again. YOU are my f’ing singer, and don’t ever forget that!“ At that, he turned around and went back to his room.
There was literally only one person on planet Earth who could’ve gotten away with it… And that, my friends, was Mr. Charlie Watts.
There will be lots of eulogies about him being the best who ever lived and all of that type of thing… And I have to say, I disagree. I believe the best drummers who have ever lived are Ringo, Zigaboo, Dave Grohl, John Bonham, and Willie Green. Not necessarily in that order. But what do I know? I haven’t heard everyone.
But I think Mr. Watts was definitely one of the smartest drummers who ever lived. If you look at the Stones’ legacy, the road they traveled is littered with great songs. And I mean GREAT songs. Beyond the usual suspects that we all know are tunes like “Sway,” “Moonlight Mile,” “Parachute Woman,” “No Use In Crying,” etc… In each of those is a solid backbeat that NEVER gets in the way of how strong the song and groove really are. And that is the mark of a truly brilliant drummer.
Such was Charlie Watts’ respect within the band that after Brian Jones had died and Bill Wyman left, the band business consisted of Mick, Keith, and Charlie alone. Ron Wood was not even made a junior member until the mid-90s. Charlie, being a trained graphic designer, had a major hand in all the group’s stage and merchandise designs over the years, which is a huge part of the Rolling Stones legacy.
Especially considering the era he came out of, most drummers of the 60s and 70s had a desperate need to overplay for attention. Charlie Watts was almost the complete opposite of that in every way. The Stones were also smart enough to turn his lack of overt personality into one of his most charming personality traits. Another stroke of genius.
I learned a lot from listening to those records: I may look like I’m doing a lot on stage, but if you listen to CM closely, you’ll hear that my drumming really is very basic with me not wanting to get in the way of what (I believe) are some pretty damn good songs.
And honestly, what a great life Charlie lived. Not only did he participate in some great music, but apparently he also left behind a very solid life not dabbling in the debauchery that the Stones have been known for over the years. I guess somebody had to be the adult in the room. Not a bad thing to be known for…being the adult in the Rolling Stones. Somebody had to do it!
And he had to look at Mick Jagger’s ass for almost 60 years.
Had to? Or got to…?
Bon voyage, Charlie! Put in a good word for the rest of us.
"We might have lost yesterday. We might not have tomorrow. But we have right here and right now!"
Last night in Winston-Salem, NC
Fred: I am enjoying music now more than I ever have. In the end, it’s seriously all about work. We work and work hard. If someone forks up 20 to 30 bucks to see our band, we’re going to bring it.