Posted to Cave’s Red Hand Files website, his tribute comes in response to four seemingly random questions from fans that all intersect at his fateful, and seemingly lasting, first interaction with Watts who died last week at age 80.
Kevin from London asked about whether Cave works out before he heads out on tour, while Ray from Leeds asked the musician if he ever “slobs around in a tracksuit”. Sarah from Toronto asked if Cave felt any kinship towards Watts not only as a musician, but for both artist’s shared passion for dressing sharp. And finally, Barbara from Cleveland asked “what’s with this duplicate question bullshit?”
All of these questions intersect at a certain point, which Cave elaborates on in his telling of the first time he saw Charlie Watts in person.
He begins by talking about a time just before a tour where he went to a gym for the first time in order to work on his fitness. Cave says that in order to train comfortably, he ordered a tracksuit.
“When it arrived the tracksuit was very small — I think it was actually a child’s size. I had forgotten to order trainers but found an old pair of giant white sneakers that had belonged to one of the kids,” he wrote.
“As I left the house for my first session at the gym I was aware that I looked ridiculous and so I stuck on a bucket hat that was lying around in an effort to disguise myself.”
He said that he spent the “most punishing hour” of his life at the gym with a trainer who “basically violated” him.
After the gym, he had to head to Heathrow airport to pick up his wife Susie, but he realised that he was running out of time, so he had no choice but to wear the tracksuit.
“When I arrived at the airport I needed to have a piss so I stopped at the bathrooms and as I walked back out, in my tiny tracksuit, my giant white trainers and my bucket hat, there, walking toward me, was Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones.
“He had silver hair and was dressed in an elegant pearl-grey three piece suit, a button down checked shirt and a tie.
“He literally glowed with a kind of inner serenity, and as we passed each other we locked eyes for a moment and he smiled at me — not an unkind smile, but not a kind one either, rather the impassive look one animal might give to another in the wild, that signalled their complete and total supremacy.”
“As I watched Charlie Watts disappear into the crowd, I rearranged my bucket hat, and thought, “There goes a truly great drummer,” which is what I thought when I heard the news this week of his passing — “There goes a truly great drummer.”
Late last week, The Rolling Stones shared a slideshow video in tribute to Watts that featured an array of archival photos and videos featuring the late drummer.