Hear pre-Rolling Stones Charlie Watts perform with Blues Incorporated in 1962

Charlie Watts
(Image credit: Photo by Stanley Bielecki/ASP/Getty Images)

We all know and love Charlie Watts for his prolific output with the Rolling Stones, but before he joined up with Mick, Keef, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman in 1963, Charlie was already part of what would become British blues history, drumming for Blues Incorporated.

The band was started by Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies in 1961, and featured what would become an all-star, revolving cast including Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, Graham Bond, Davey Graham and many more.

“I played in a jazz quartet at a place called the Troubadour which is still there - a coffee bar in Earls Court.” Charlie told BBC 6Music’s Matt Everitt in 2011. “One night Alexis came in and sat in. 6 months or so later I got a message from Alexis to say would I go and play in this band of his. 

"I went there, and my wife was there. That’s where I met my wife, at the rehearsal of Alexis’ band. I wondered what the hell they were playing, and for some reason Alexis asked me to join the band, and I did for a year or so.

"Because of Alexis, I got asked to play in lots of blues bands, so I became associated with blues. Alexis, all his life was a hub for young people, particularly blues and obscure jazz players. He was a great one for bringing them on and listening to them. One of these people was Brian Jones, so I played with Brian and knew him socially through Alexis.”

Together, Korner and Davies began running the Rhythm and Blues Night at the Ealing Jazz Club, attracting a throng of blues and R&B fans including the future Stones, Bluesbreakers Eric Clapton and John Mayall and Jimmy Page to the audience, as well as sometimes sitting in with the band. 

“Mick sang with Alexis a few times, and Keith sat in with Alexis a couple of times. I left Alexis and started playing with various blues bands, and then I was asked to join the Rolling Stones. It was just another band to join, I was in about three of them!”

Charlie left the band in 1962, recommending Ginger Baker as his replacement, but not before some of the performances were thankfully captured. 

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.