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Farewell to Charlie Watts

People & Horses

Farewell to Charlie Watts

Charlie Watts, by. Ewa Imielska-Hebda
Charlie Watts, by. Ewa Imielska-Hebda

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On the evening of August 24th, news spread around the world about the death of Charlie Watts, the drummer of the legendary band The Rolling Stones, which has been giving concerts for nearly 60 years, on which several generations of music lovers grew up. In the international community of Arabian horse breeders, Charlie Watts was known as an inseparable companion supporting his wife Shirley in breeding, subsequent purchases and collecting trophies for Arabian horses owned by their Halsdon Arabians stud, which regularly gathered the most expensive horses bred in Poland. Hence, Charlie Watts has been a regular guest in our country for years, as well as at almost all the most important Arabian horse shows that his wife has attended since 1987, when they appeared together at the European Championships in Ostend.

Shirley & Charlie Watts, by Ewa Imielska-Hebda
Shirley & Charlie Watts, by Ewa Imielska-Hebda

Professionally – a musical legend, considered one of the best drummers of all time. Privately – extremely modest, always elegantly and impeccably dressed, winner of the Vanity Fair Award for Best Dressed Stars, with a sense of humor, patiently posing for hundreds of photos with anyone who asked for them. The opposite of the stereotype of a rocker associated with, for example, his band mates. As he claimed in numerous interviews, show business did not interest him at all, he did not watch MTV, he was virtually alien to stimulants, he even quit smoking in the 1980s. Described as “the quiet giant” by another outstanding drummer – Stewart Copeland of The Police. So Charlie Watts will be remembered by hundreds of Arabian horse lovers around the world. Let us give the floor to those who knew him the closest and remember him in touching words:

“Dear Charlie, the day I heard about your death, the pain and the feeling of emptiness did not leave me for many hours,” Elvis Giughera, co-founder of the ArabianEssence platform, privately a friend of Charlie and Shirley Watts, began his extremely personal memory.
– It seems impossible to me that we will never have another happy time together again. In recent years there have been many of them: a short trip to Paris, where you and Shirley liked to spend your free time; dinners on the occasion of the holidays in London, which were our regular item on the agenda; or Shirley’s birthday in September, when my mother made apple fries for you; to watching X-Factor together – it was almost unreal for me that a rock legend sat in my living room to comment on the performances of reality show participants. How many fun moments we spent together! You were always happy and smiling, your disarming surprise was unforgettable when Shirley invited us to a concert in Hyde Park, and you, surprised, asked: did you come especially for me? You were a gentleman, sensitive and sensitive to the needs of others, always available to everyone. Today the whole world mourns a percussion virtuoso, and I mourn a friend I will always carry in my heart ”.

Ricardo Saliba, Paulo Saliba and Charlie Watts with the stallion Polonez (Etap - Parma by Aswan) 1980, bred in Janów Podlaski Stud. Charlie Watts has been visiting the farm of Saliba Family (Brazil) during the first tourne of the The Rolling Stones in South America, by archive
Ricardo Saliba, Paulo Saliba and Charlie Watts with the stallion Polonez (Etap – Parma by Aswan) 1980, bred in Janów Podlaski Stud. Charlie Watts has been visiting the farm of Saliba Family (Brazil) during the first tourne of the The Rolling Stones in South America, by archive

The disarming modesty of Charlie Watts is also confirmed by the breeder from Brazil, Paulo Jamil Saliba: “During the first tour of The Rolling Stones in South America, Charlie Watts was planning to visit our stud. Unfortunately, the band’s flight from Mexico City to Sao Paulo was delayed which resulted in a delay in the scheduled concerts as well. Charlie called our office to say that he would visit our stud a day later than we agreed. When I laughed and replied that all of Brazil already knew about it, I had the impression that Charlie did not realize how important an event his band’s first visit to our country was. The horse inspection at our stud, which he eventually visited in the company of The Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Jones, was a lot of fun for him”.

The visits of the Watts’ to our country were of great importance, recalls Marek Grzybowski, the organizer of the Polish Prestige auction, who first invited Shirley Watts to buy Polish horses in 1989. A year later, she and Charlie came to Janów. “It is with deep sadness that I learned of the news of Charlie Watts’ death,” writes Marek Grzybowski. “He and his wife Shirley were among the most important clients of the Polish Prestige auction in Janów. When in 1989 I met Shirley at one of the most important shows and invited her to the auction, I did not know that she would come to Poland with her famous husband. Mr. and Mrs. Watts did not miss any auction. They watched the horses together, then Charlie made the bidding. Very discreetly, with a gentle finger gesture or a slight nod of the head. He clearly enjoyed the bidding game. As an auctioneer, I knew Charlie would never give up once he started fighting for a horse for his wife. For the journalists and photographers gathered at the auction, the participation of the famous “Rolling Stones” was the most important event of the auction. The same was true for the public, the inhabitants of Janów Podlaski, as well as for people travelling to Janów from all over Poland. The Watts won the auctions with spontaneous joy, and the audience welcomed this with sincere applause. I look at old photos. There is joy on all the faces. It was a joy and pride for Poles that the wonderful Polish Arabians were appreciated by the global clientele. For guests from abroad, it is a joy to participate in the Polish Arabian Summer Festival, the most important event for Arabian horses in the world. For us it was an opportunity to show the public, especially Polish politicians, that the state studs are such a good promotional asset that they should never be privatized. I think that our distinguished foreign guests, such as Charlie Watts and others, contributed, albeit unconsciously, to the decision by Polish politicians to abandon the privatization of the studs in Janów, Michałów and Białka”.

On the day of Charlie Watts’ death, The Rolling Stones were in the process of preparing for another tour, which Charlie Watts had to give up for health reasons, but he said he was working hard to get back to playing. Unfortunately, both the legendary group and the Arabian horse community, without the figure of Charlie Watts, a virtuoso with always smiling and cheerful eyes, will never be the same again. On behalf of the polskiearaby.com portal, we would like to join the condolences flowing from all over the world to his loved ones.

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