Rolling Stones pay tribute to Charlie Watts at start of US tour

The Rolling Stones paid tribute Sunday to their late drummer, Charlie Watts, while kicking off the first date of the U.S. leg of their “No Filter” tour in St. Louis.

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The show at The Dome at America’s Center began with the stage empty as a drumbeat played, CNN reported. Photos and videos of Watts were projected on four huge screens as a crowd of about 60,000 people shouted, “Charlie,” according to Reuters.

Except for a private concert last week in Massachusetts, the show was the band’s first since Watts’ death last month, The Associated Press reported. It marked the start of the first Rolling Stones tour without Watts since 1963.

>> Related: Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones, dies at 80

“It was quite emotional seeing those pictures of Charlie up on the screen,” Mick Jagger said after appearing onstage alongside Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, according to Reuters. “We all miss Charlie so much both on the stage and off the stage.”

Watts died Aug. 24 at a London hospital weeks after announcing that he would not join the Stones on their “No Filter” tour after undergoing an unspecified medical procedure. He was 80.

>> Related: Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts drops out of US tour after medical procedure

In a series of interviews published last week by Rolling Stone, Jagger said Watts “held the band together for so long, musically, because he was the rock the rest of it was built around.”

Richards told the magazine that Watts was his “bed.”

“I could lay on there, and I know that not only would I have a good sleep, but I’d wake up and it’d still be rocking,” he said. “It was something I’ve had since I was 19. I never doubted it. I never even thought about it.”

The 13-date “No Filter” tour had been scheduled to begin in May 2020, though it was pushed back because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported. Steve Jordan, a longtime Stones associate who was a member of Richards’ side project, X-Pensive Winos, played drums in Watt’s place Sunday, according to Rolling Stone.

The band will next play Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina, before continuing on to Pittsburgh; Nashville; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Tampa, Florida; Dallas; Las Vegas; Atlanta; Detroit and Austin, Texas.

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