Jul 31, 2023

Celebrating the lasting impact of The Rolling Stones

A legendary night in Guernsey and an intimate portrait of Charlie Watts

Blog by Sophie Lucassen

On the 18th of August 1964, The Rolling Stones performed at the New Theatre Ballroom in Guernsey. They played ‘Not Fade Away' and 'Can I Get a Witness' among other songs on their set. Fifty-nine years ago, the band consisted of Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts. The band defined hard rock in the 1960s with their electrifying sound and rebellious personalities. Their timeless hits like “Start Me Up” and “Jumping Jack Flash” have captivated many generations.

The Rolling Stones' presence in Guernsey left an unforgettable mark on the island’s music history. Their brief visit to both Jersey and Guernsey ignited rock ‘n’ roll in the Channel Islands and brought music lovers together. Even now, The Rolling Stones still continue to unite rock ‘n’ roll fans. In May this year, Paul Sexton, music journalist and author of “Charlie’s Good Tonight: The Life, the Times & the Rolling Stones: The Authorised Biography of Charlie Watts” spoke at this year’s Literary Festival.

The Guernsey Literary Festival brings together some of the world’s greatest writers, speakers and thinkers. More than 65 events were hosted, most featuring writers and speakers from the UK and the Channel Islands, over the two weeks to celebrate the joy of books, with over 7,000 people attending. In his book, Paul Sexton captures the essence of the band’s legendary drummer, Charlie Watts. The biography sketches a detailed portrait of Charlie’s biggest inspirations and shows the introspective part of the devoted husband and father.

During the event, Paul spoke about his experiences interviewing The Stones over the course of thirty years and delves into Charlie Watt’s character, musical inspirations and his relationship with the other band members. The sold-out event took place at The Golden Lion. The audience consisting of multiple age groups reminds us of the enduring power of music and how The Rolling Stones’ influence in the scene has been nothing short of monumental.

Paul talks about Charlie’s unwavering dedication to his family, his incredible fashion sense and his introverted and unique characteristics, like how he would sketch every hotel room he visited and how he would spend a fortune on phone calls to his wife, Shirley, while he was on tour.

The intimate setting of the event gave opportunities for the audience to casually ask questions about Charlie’s ambiguity about being a rock star and share experiences with other fans. Paul Sexton and Jim Delbridge created a casual atmosphere and the event ended with a book signing, where Paul Sexton exuded a similar humble energy to Watts himself.

‘Thank you so much to all the brilliant Guernsey Literary Festival team. What a great few days!’ Paul Sexton, music writer and biographer and Rolling Stones expert.

Next year’s Guernsey Literary Festival takes place from 23 April – 5 May, 2024. Visit our pages to stay up to date on future events or become a member and be the first to buy tickets for next year’s events and help support the festival to fund vital educational and outreach work.