To paraphrase Meat Loaf, three out of four ain't bad. At least when it comes to the Rolling Stones. Or is it?
Late Wednesday, the Stones announced that founding drummer Charlie Watts will not participate in this fall's pandemic-delayed 13-city No Filter Tour, including an Oct. 24 concert at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Watts, 80, recently underwent an undisclosed but "completely successful" medical procedure, and doctors have prescribed rest.
"For once my timing has been a little off," Watts quipped in a statement.
Well-traveled drummer Steve Jordan will sit in with the three other longtime Stones, co-founders Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and guitarist Ronnie Wood, who joined in 1975.
Jordan has played with Richards' side project X-Pensive Winos, the house bands on "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night With David Letterman," and on tour with the Blues Brothers, Eric Clapton and John Mayer. The drummer has recorded with Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson and many others.
As a producer, Jordan has helmed projects by Soul Asylum, Bettye LaVette and Buddy Guy, to name a few, as well as two Richards' solo albums.
Moreover, Jordan, 64, has worked with the Stones before, playing on their 1986 album "Dirty Work" when Watts wasn't available. Watts also was treated for throat cancer in 2004.
This could be the last time in Minnesota for the world's greatest band, and it's hard to imagine a Stones concert without Watts, the highly regarded timekeeper who is so steady that you hardly notice him. The change may not be as seamless as when Darryl Jones moved into the bass slot after Bill Wyman retired, or when Wood stepped in for Mick Taylor.
The Stones' on-and-off No Filter Tour, which started in 2017 in Europe, was delayed in early 2019 when Jagger underwent a heart valve procedure. He was on fire when the band returned to the road in Chicago. However, the 2020 leg of the trek, including a May 16 date in Minneapolis, was postponed due to COVID-19.
The last time the Stones were in the Twin Cities, in 2015 to perform at TCF Bank Stadium, Watts toured the Minneapolis Institute of Art with Jagger — joking to a staffer as they left: "I don't have anything in my pockets. I'm clean. But I wish I could have taken one of those teacups [on display outside the museum's period rooms]."
The night before the concert, he gave fans a special treat by sitting in at the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis. Playfully billed as "Band 2," the group featured three Stones sidemen — saxophonist/leader Tim Ries, keyboardist Chuck Leavell and singer Bernard Fowler — along with several Twin Cities musicians.
Watts watched the hourlong first set from the balcony (at the table where Prince sometimes sat because it has a curtain to keep the curious away). He stood and leaned over the railing, watching intently as his pal, jazz-fusion drummer Steve Smith of Vital Information, sat in on one of the few non-Stones numbers, "Take the Coltrane."
Watts reappeared at the start of the second set on the drum kit. Ries led the group in a quick "Happy Birthday" to recognize Watts' 74th. And then it was as close to Rolling Stones time as you'll get in a 275-seat club in Minneapolis on a Tuesday night: "Ruby Tuesday" with one of the world's great rock drummers.
The silver-haired timekeeper was understated and steady, before ending the song with a little flourish.
That may be our final lasting memory of Watts in Minnesota.