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‘Working class Oiks’ was how my boss, in the office I worked in London, saw the Rolling Stones who had just burst on to the pop scene to thrill those of my generation: they gave London in the early 1960s what the Beatles had given to Liverpool and the swinging sixties were well underway.

Oik was a nasty slang term often used by the English upper classes in a derogatory sense to describe a person regarded as inferior, ignorant, ill-educated, or lower-class. That didn’t worry us, we liked Mick’s swagger and the non-conformist insolence of the Stones.

Now Charlie Watts, their impassive drummer for more that half a century has died: he never said much and showed little emotion but he held together the Stones, Mick and ‘Keef’ Richards, Bill Wyman and all too briefly Brian Jones and later Ronnie Woods.

I didn’t know Charlie Watts but I was raised in South London in those post-war years and I went to school a few miles away from where Mick went to school in Dartford – we played his school team in soccer.

At that time in the early 1960s the sharp young blades around town were very much into flash suits, stove-pipe pants and winkle picker shoes. There was a certain East End Jewish tailor, off the Whitechapel Road as I recall, who had caught the eye of Charlie Watts and his mates and they had their jackets and suits made up there.

Word spread and I ended up getting a suit made by this same tailor – there was a photo of Charlie in the window of the shop modelling a suit. In those days the fashion was for two buttoned, short jackets, Bum-freezers as they were known.

Later in 1963 I took a ten pound assisted passage to Australia – best investment I ever made – the suit stayed at my parents home and probably ended up in an op shop as I married a Queensland girl and stayed in Australia.

Meanwhile, Mick and Keith opened up a corner shop in leafy Surbiton to see them through their retirement, just ask Michael Caine:



Farewell, Charlie Watts, you entertained us for a generation – not bad for a classy oik!


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  1. Ally Morgan

    I was told (or read), that the Rolling Stones members had better educations and backgrounds than the Beatles……and it was just the music style, hair, clothing etc that gave people the opposite idea. That being said, I saw both of them live…I was a Stoner for sure….

  2. Michael Taylor

    Indeed, Ally, the Beatles came from working class families, even bordering on the poor. John Lennon went to an art school, but he was the only one who furthered his education.

    I was given a wonderful book in the late 70s: “The man who gave the Beatles Away” by Alan Williams, who was their manager in their early Liverpool and Hamburg days. I remember one sad story from the book… they had a drummer before Pete Best came along, but he left the band to become a forklift driver at a large bakery. John, Paul, George and Alan Williams went to his work one night to beg him to come back to the band. He said no, citing that he was under pressure from his girlfriend to get a steady job with regular income.

    Years later he was asked about that decision. All he said was; “I’ve left that woman.”

    But of the Stones, I have a brother that’s been to so many of their concerts that he may as well have joined the band. He has every record they produced, and just about every book written about them. If neither was available in Australia, he’d order them from overseas.

    I got the feeling the he liked them. 😁

  3. BB

  4. Michael Taylor

    BB, Freddie Mercury was another Liverpudlian.

    One of the many things I learned on the Magical Mystery Tour in Liverpool in 2018.

  5. Michael Taylor

    A lady I worked with in Canberra – a huge Stones fan – said that the best guitarist they ever had was Michael Taylor.

    No, it wasn’t me, but I liked the name.

    He joined them after Brian Jones drowned. He later quit the group and was replaced by that ‘strolling bone’ Ron Wood.

  6. BB

    Aye, it’s a small world Michael.

    I think this Queen classic is an appropriate tribute to Charlie Watts.

  7. Roswell

    BB, we used to play that song whenever someone dropped out of recruit camp.

  8. Carl Marks

    Has he forgotten Mick Taylor?.

    they were at the top when this guy was with them.

    Too much armchair darts though

  9. RomeoCharlie29

    I think Ronald Searle of Nigel Molesworth fame might have coined the term Oiks, indeed going further he might have called his favoured oiks, Ozard oiks. But given my age, I might be confused.

  10. wam

    Good read waltz of the cuckoo, I wonder if the cry yoiks is related?
    I was an up the long ladder and down the short rope, joandill bloke with harry belafonte thrown in, and thought of the rollingbeats as yellers not singers. Took my darling, as a surprise, to see the beatles arrive at the Adelaide and was caught in an efficient police tactic to make sure me and the thousands of others did not succeed, I had tickets to their concert and couldn’t believe the absolute waste of money. Never had much time for either but danced to them at parties. I, occasionally still annoy grandies’ phone fingering with sounds of irish rebel songs played loud on a dirty tree and a turd turntable. What a boring old fart, I am!

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