Thirty-five years ago, Steve Jordan got a call from Keith Richards asking him to play drums on a new version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" that he was creating with Aretha Franklin. "I remembered Charlie Watts saying, 'If you ever work outside of [the Rolling Stones ], Steve Jordan's your man,' " Richards wrote in his memoir Life . "It was a great session. And in my mind it was lodged that if I'm going to do anything else, it's with Steve."
He stuck to that pledge over the years when he used Jordan in his group the X-Pensive Winos along with special projects like the Chuck Berry documentary Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll. And when word came down this past summer that Charlie Watts would be unable play on the Stones tour because of health problems, Jordan was the obvious candidate to take his place.
"After all the fans' suffering caused by Covid," Watts said in a public statement, "I really do not want the many RS fans who have been holding tickets for this tour to be disappointed by another postponement or cancellation. I have therefore asked my great friend Steve Jordan to stand in for me."
It was only supposed to be a temporary position, but it became permanent on Aug. 24 when Watts died. That placed a heavy burden on Jordan's shoulders, but he handled his responsibility with incredible grace and dignity throughout the entire tour. Around a week after the run ended, Jordan spoke with Rolling Stone about the experience, and to share a new song he created with former Beastie Boys DJ Mix Master Mike.
Are you still unwinding from the tour?
How did you feel when you walked offstage after Florida and it was all over?
Let's go back to the beginning. How old were you when you became a fan of the Stones?
How did your fandom grow in the years after that?
Jump ahead to 1978 and tell me about first meeting them. SNL . I was in the house band. There was extra security and everything because they were there. Everybody was trying to get close, but I wasn't focused on that because the New York Yankees were playing the Kansas City Royals in the American League championship series. That was the only thing that meant anything to me, whether the Yankees were going to advance to the World Series. [Editor's note: The Yankees won 2-1 that night and advanced to the World Series. They then beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.]
I was in the SNL band dressing room, which was called the Departure Lounge. I was in there watching the game. I wanted to get the autographs of the band, but I wasn't going to hang out and miss the game to meet them. My recollection is I somehow ran into Charlie. One thing leads to another where I asked him for an autograph and the band. He comes back with a piece of paper.
I end up sitting in the dressing room with him and showing him the ins and outs of baseball. He said, "Oh, this is kind of like a combination of cricket and rounders, isn't it?" I'd heard about rounders. That's where you run back and forth to the bases. And cricket involves a bat. It is a combination of those two games. I was like, "I guess it is." Sitting next to Charlie Watts, watching the Yankees. It doesn't get much better than that.
What led to you spending more time with them around the recording of Dirty Work ?
There are only a few drummers that played on Stones tracks while Charlie was alive and well. That was Kenney Jones who played on "It's Only Rock 'n Roll" with Willie Weeks on bass since the track was really cut with Ron Wood. Then Jimmy Miller played drums on "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Happy" because Jimmy Miller was producing, and he happened to be a fine drummer. He had that pulse, that New York funk, that groove, to bolster that aspect of the band, which he did with Traffic and Spencer Davis Group. And then Sly Dunbar played on "Undercover of the Night." That was a specific thing they were going for. It's happened in those cases, but in any other case, it's Charlie.
They've had great percussionists play with them from time to time, like Rocky Dijon from Rock and Roll Circus. That's the role I wanted to play, like when Ollie Brown played along during the live stuff with Stevie Wonder. That was the role that I was more comfortable being in for the band because there's a lot of percussion with the Stones. It's really the maracas, which Mick ends up playing a lot … it's important on those recordings. You miss it when you don't hear it.
Can you talk about what made Charlie such a unique and distinct drummer, and so perfect for the Stones?
Of course, Ringo swung his butt off, and that's why I love the way he plays. All those tracks are swinging. But the Beatles didn't do a lot of blues stuff. They did more R&B. When they covered stuff, they didn't cover hardcore blues records the way the Stones did. They covered R&B/pop hits. That's why they covered all those Motown records or Little Richard stuff or Chuck Berry. When they did "Roll Over Beethoven," it was a very poppy version as opposed to when the Stones covered "Around and Around," it was more a little hardcore sounding.
Over the years, Stones fans have often speculated about what might happen if Charlie was unable to make a show or tour. Almost without exception, your name always popped up because of your time with the Winos. Were you aware of that sort of chatter? Musician magazine did a thing of, "What are the chances of X, Y, and Z?" My name came up as a possible bass player [ laughs ]. I was like, "That's interesting. I do know that style of bass. I love that. I love that that's chatter." That's before there was real internet kind of stuff.
I knew some people that were up for the [bassist] role and they were all good choices. I know why Charlie loved playing with Darryl [Jones]. I knew every bass player that was up for the job. They were all friends and all great. They couldn't really lose.
Did you see the Stones on the 2019 tour?
You don't understand what that is. You need to alter your playing when you're playing in a stadium. A lot of the subtleties that you would like to execute just don't translate in an 80,000-person stadium. If that's the essence of your playing, you have to figure out what your approach is going to be, and not compromise your musicality. That's because your musicality is the thing that makes you so unique and fuels the sound of your band. That's a lot to think about, much less execute. And he did it flawlessly that night. I was amazed. I obviously didn't know that would be the last time I'd see him play.
How did you first hear about the possibility of you stepping in for the tour this year?
That's kind of what it was. It was not anything more than that. It was kind of like, "Maybe I'll just do the rehearsals, and when he's recovered, then he will come in and do the shows."
How did you feel? It's a big responsibility to sit at that drum kit.
If Mick is feeling comfortable with everything, in my opinion, then you get an even more extraordinary performance than you usually get. You always get an extraordinary performance, but when the band is clicking and the grooves are right, then it actually becomes even more extraordinary, if that is possible. And it does happen. When the thing is really locked in, it goes to other heights.
Even as a fan, you will go to the show and basically take bets on when the band is going to kick in. It's like driving. You're shifting gears. You get the truck started and you're pulling out of the driveway, and you hit the open road and you're shifting, that's basically what it was to watch that band.
That's part of the whole lure of seeing them live. "Now they've got it!" Maybe it's the fourth song in. Maybe you don't know when it's going to happen. The first song you're just blown away by what you're hearing and the initial thing. But they're still shifting and figuring out what the room sounds like, what the audience sounds like, how you feel.
When friends ask me what it's like playing with them, I say that it's like being strapped to the outside of a rocket ship going straight up. That's what it's like for us. You go out there for the first song and it's like blastoff. You go, "Wow!" And the crowd is going crazy and you're playing one of your favorite songs you heard when you were, like, a toddler. It's just completely surreal. The whole experience is just bizarre.
I should speak about Ronnie, too. He has this kind of indelible energy, which I definitely feed off as well. The thing that was extraordinary for me was hearing the two guitars do, as Keith puts it, the weave. They aren't playing two separate guitars; they are interlocking. No other band has that. People try to imitate that, but they don't have that. That's one of the great joys besides Mick's whole thing. It's hearing the two guitars do the weave right in front of me. It's just incredible.
Tell me about rehearsals. I know the band goes through about 80 songs. That's a lot they're throwing at you.
But a lot of my favorite parts of the rehearsals were the deeper tracks you don't get to hear very much, playing "All Down the Line," "If You Can't Rock Me," "Live With Me," "Sweet Virginia," "Dead Flowers," "Faraway Eyes," "Shattered," "She's So Cold," "She Was Hot." We played everything. We played "Moonlight Mile" a lot, and it was really great. I'm still lobbying to get that played if there are more shows in the future, which I don't know. I'm going to lobby harder for that one.
We played all this stuff. "Under My Thumb." That's not a deep track, but it's a different one to play. We added a new twist on it as well. It was just amazing, so exciting to play these songs with them every day.
How much are you trying to replicate Charlie's parts, and how much are you trying to put your own spin on the material?
The band has played songs differently for about 50 years, or more. You start to think, "What's your favorite live period?" I cross-referenced my favorite live period of the band to the recordings, and I figured out what I want to retain and where they are now. Then I got a good fusion of the two. My goal was to bring back some of the stuff from the records, and then reference what I think of as one of the hottest live periods for the band. For me, that was from about 1971 to 1975 during the Mick Taylor years where Charlie was incredibly on fire.
I referenced that live stuff, as opposed to the later live stuff, and I wanted to bring back some of that juice. Going with that live energy and fusing that with the record. My whole thing is that it's got to feel right. Just like Charlie, it's gotta feel right.
Charlie died during rehearsals, and suddenly the tour took on a very different tone. Did you feel a different sort of burden at that point?
From the perspective of an audience member, I can tell you that the shows felt cathartic. We were all there together to celebrate Charlie and all the music he created.
You have to understand, the week before Charlie passed, I had gotten information that he was doing better. That week, the rehearsals took on a different energy because we were upbeat about him recovering. The week before, we were like, "Charlie is going to be cool! This is great!" The whole energy of the rehearsals were even more upbeat because he was feeling better. We were playing this stuff with less of a burden. "We're going to do this, and play that, and Charlie is going to come back and everything will be great."
That made the shocking even more shocking and tragic since the week before, there was a whole other mindset. And then it became this whole other thing. I don't read social media and so I'm not bogged down with chatter. It doesn't affect me since I won't let it. I didn't want to think of an extraordinary burden since it was already enough before his passing.
The first show was a private one at Gillette Field in a tent. This was a much smaller crowd, giving you a chance to sort of warm up. How was that night emotionally and musically?
But it wasn't a real show. It was great to do it and get one out and be onstage with them in front of people, but it does not compare to what really happened when we played St. Louis .
What was that night like for you?
Here's the other thing about that first night in St. Louis. I had never seen a complete Stones show in my life. I'd never seen a whole show. When I go to see them, I'm either backstage for part of the show or I leave before the encore to beat the traffic. I've never seen an entire show until that night. I'm playing there and I'm thinking, "This is a great show. Wait, I'm in the show! What are you talking about?" It's a great, great show, but I'd never seen an entire show. It was amazing.
As you said, playing to a stadium is very different than any other type of venue. And there's no real way to know what it feels like until you're up there doing it.
Luckily, we actually have the best front-of-house audio engineer in the world in Dave Natale. I don't know what it would be like without him. Having the best person, and also the monitors are extremely important. The monitor person that we have is the best monitor person I've ever worked with. I never had any issues with my monitors, not once. And I'm usually pretty attentive to the monitors since they're everything. If you don't hear the right thing when you're playing, you're not going to be able to connect and create that pocket. You're trying to find where everybody is so you can get the groove going. That's on the monitor mixing, and this guy was the best guy I've ever worked with.
Each night had a different set list on this tour, and they threw in some real surprises, like "Connection."
Are there certain songs you pushed for?
I've always wanted to hear "Memory Motel."
I'm sure watching Mick work the stage from up close is a lot of fun. A guy his age still doing that is really just remarkable.
How did you feel every night playing "Satisfaction," a song that came out when you were a kid?
As the tour went by week after week, did you get more comfortable? Did the weight start to lift off your shoulders?
It's obviously different than when Charlie was there. Everyone will always miss Charlie and want Charlie, but it's not a reason not to go.
Every show began with that audio collage of Charlie. Hearing that as you walked out must have been a real reminder of his legacy.
How was the finale in Florida? It was an amphitheater, so the vibe must have been very different.
Did you grow close to the various members of the band throughout the tour? Soul Book , I had Darryl play on a couple of things. Bernard Fowler and I are very close friends. I've known Bernard forever as well. We had that.
There are lots of rumors about a 60th-anniversary tour of Europe next year.
Are you keeping your calendar free for next summer just in case?
Tell me about "Venom GT," the song you made with Mix Master Mike. We're premiering the video here (directed by Anaka Marie Decker.)
One thing led to another, and we went into a studio and started recording songs. What we would do was go in and say, "Let's cut something at this tempo. Let's cut something with this groove." That's basically all we would say to one another, and then it was on. It was pretty wild. It was a spontaneous-combustion kind of thing where we'd play it and all of a sudden, at the end of a few minutes we'd have this piece of music.
Once we had all of this music, I said, "OK, Mike. Take it into your lab and do a couple of edits here and there." And that's what he did. He ended up naming 90 percent of the titles. Everything that came back, I was like, "That's hysterical. That's fantastic."
Our original idea was to cut these tracks and give them to MCs for them to spit over, which still might happen on a couple things, but they were so glorious on their own that we just said, "We gotta put this out." Meegan and I were just like, "Let's put this out on our label, Jay-Vee Records . Let's do it." That's what we did.
Tell me about your upcoming album Garage Sale with the Verbs.
This is a totally random question, but Neil Young wrote recently that he's going to release the music you recorded in 1989 with him and Poncho and Charley Drayton before the SNL broadcast. Are you looking forward to hearing that stuff again? Laughs ] It was a pretty wild scene, but Niko Bolas was there recording it, so I know it sounds great.
And Neil is always on fire. Talk about someone you love playing with. I just love playing with Neil. He's one of a kind. It's very much like Keith. They are both music first.
The live "Rockin' in the Free World" at SNL is really one of Neil's best performances ever captured on camera. SNL of the season] with Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos in 1988. The following year, 1989, we were the premiere show with Neil Young.
When we played with Keith, that was the Winos' very first gig. We had never played before anyone before, let alone millions of people on national television. We had never played live. That was the first gig, Saturday Night Live .
I just saw Charley play with Bob Dylan . Who would have guessed all these years ago that in 2021, he'd be with Bob Dylan at the exact same time you're with the Stones.
I'll let you go in a second, but I really hope the Stones 60th-anniversary tour happens next year.
It's not just you miss him as a musical partner, but he's a great guy. He was a great person. He was such a mediator with different energies. Outside of music, they must miss him tremendously. Anytime I saw Charlie, and it wasn't like I saw Charlie and talked to him every day, but I remember every time I saw Charlie. One night, I had dinner with Jim Keltner, Ringo, myself, and Charlie. These things are with me forever. For them, they have a boatload of memories. I can't put myself in their shoes. I don't know how they feel.
From a fan's perspective, a tour is the best way to honor the guy. They should just keep going out there and playing the music they made with him. And you did a really great job with a very hard task.
- LeBron James Under Fire After Blaming China Row On 'Misinformed' Rockets GM
- Rocket Report: Lots of new engines, SpaceX review explained, BFR changes
- One small step: What will the moon look like in 50 years?
- Building a rocket in a garage to take on SpaceX and Blue Origin
- Jordan Clark Removes Joe Root, Kane Williamson And Jonny Bairstow In Roses Hat-Trick
- How “Elon Musk” came to SXSW and launched a rocket to Mars (but not really)
- On Thursday a rocket failed. Three humans remain on the ISS. What’s next?
- Could chip fat help dirty shipping clean up its act?
- Ars takes a first tour of the length of The Boring Company’s test tunnel
- “Electric like Dick Hyman”: 170 Beastie Boys references explained
- ‘Absolute scandal’: how does restoring a ship help endangered species?
- What does Argonaut’s $21,000 carbon bike look like? Whatever you want
- In 1996, alternative rock died a messy, forgettable death
- Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp on Making The Green Lantern Weird as Hell
- 9 Things We Loved About Stranger Things 2 (and 4 We Didn't)
- Fed debate shifts from large cut to whether to cut at all
- Avengers: Endgame Is the Perfect Reward for the Patient and Deranged
- All the Questions We Still Have After
- Everything We Learned in Our Latest Look at Avengers: Endgame
- Cygnus Spacecraft Heads to Space Station With 40 Mice, Satellites
Steve Jordan on Touring With the Stones: ‘It Was Like Being Strapped to a Rocket Ship’ have 3915 words, post on www.rollingstone.com at December 6, 2021. This is cached page on Movie News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.