Chuck Leavell, the Rolling Stones‘ longtime keyboardist and musical director, says the entire band is still coming to terms with the death of drummer Charlie Watts. Watts died of cancer on August 24th at the age of 80. He’s been replaced for the current dates by Steve JordanKeith Richards‘ primary solo collaborator for the past 35 years.

Chuck Leavell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “We all are still pining and sad over the loss of Charlie. We knew that he was ill; we knew that he was not going to be able to make this tour, and he had already given Steve Jordan his blessing to do that. Actually we all expected a full recovery over time. So when the news came, I was in a car halfway to the airport to start rehearsals. I saw the email and it was just devastating. I had to hide my face several times in the airport, thinking of him and getting emotional. We miss him very much.”

He went on to explain, “But you know Charlie Watts would never want to be the reason this band would stop, I can tell you that. We took a day or two to talk about Charlie and share some stories and grieve. And then carry on. And that’s what we’ve done. We honor Charlie, and celebrate him at every show.”

Regarding Steve Jordan stepping into the drum spot for Watts, Leavell explaining, “He’s been part of the Stones family, so he was definitely the logical choice. You know Steve is a fantastic drummer. He has a slightly more aggressive style of drumming. We’re adjusting to him, and he’s adjusting to us, but it’s really, really working out well. He studied, and he studied hard.”

In 1982, Chuck Leavell replaced former-Faces member Ian McLagan to become the Stones’ keyboardist for the European leg of the band’s tour behind Tattoo You — a gig he’s had since then. Leavell, who also played with Eric Clapton, had previously achieved fame as part of the Allman Brothers Band and his own group, the Allmans off-shoot ensemble, Sea Level.

  • The Rolling Stones tour dates (subject to change):
    November 6 – Las Vegas, NV – Allegiant Stadium
    November 11 – Atlanta, GA – Mercedes-Benz Stadium
    November 15 – Detroit, MI – Ford Field
    November 20 – Austin, TX – Circuit of The Americas
    November 23 – Hollywood, FL – Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hotel & Casino


  • Just released is the Rolling Stones‘ latest archival set, Tattoo You: 40th Anniversary.
  • The deluxe edition features a new remaster of the 1981 nine-week chart-topper, a bonus disc of nine previously unreleased — yet heavily bootlegged tracks — and a two-disc June 1982 performance art London’s Wembley Stadium.
  • Tattoo You was originally released on August 24th, 1981 and was comprised mainly of reworked outtakes from the band’s archive dating back to the 1972 sessions for the following year’s Goats Head Soup
  • Among the highlights on the bonus disc is the band’s unreleased Goats Head Soup gem, “Fast Talking Slow Walking,” the It’s Only Rock N’ Roll-era outtake, “Living In The Heart Of Love,” and the 1975 Black And Blue-era, early reggae version of “Start Me Up.”

CHECK IT OUT: The Stones — with Chuck Leavell — on June 26th, 1982 live at London’s Wembley Stadium: