The Hands of Charlie Watts

Posted February 7th, 2022

As most people know, Charlie Watts was the drummer in the Rolling Stones, from 1963 to his recent death in August 2021 at aged 80.  As a mark of respect to a man whose drumming skills I strived to emulate when I was a teenager, I offer these observations about his personality from a consideration of his hands.

Long Ring Fingers

The most obviously notable feature of his hands are that his ring fingers are longer than his index fingers.  Performers, musicians and artists frequently have long ring fingers – because this finger is strongly associated with aesthetics, design and presentation.  Interestingly, before Charlie Watts joined the Rolling Stones, he studied at Harrow School of Art – and his first job after art college was working as a designer in a London advertising agency.  Charlie made valuable contributions to the Rolling Stones’ marketing and presentation, creating artwork for some of their early releases and then collaborating with Jagger in the design of their elaborate stage sets in later years.

One of the more obvious manifestations of Charlie’s long ring finger is that he was renowned for being one of the best dressed rock stars, ever.  His dapper and sartorial dress sense conveyed an elegant presentation, one which carried over to the elegance of the Arabian stallions he reared at his stables in Devon.

Straight Major Air line, separated at the Beginning

His Major Air line (headline) runs straight across the palm and is quite long, showing a logical, systematic mind and someone with level-headed thinking.  Charlie avoided the chaotic aspects of the drug-fuelled lifestyles of his bandmates.  The length of the line shows that he was thoughtful and introspective, a line formation that perhaps reflects his love of jazz.

The separation of the line from the Major Earth line at the start of the line (above the thumb) shows a lack of closeness within his family unit when he was growing up in post-war London – his father was a lorry driver so was perhaps not around much when he was young. This lineal formation tends to bring a sense of independence and autonomy where the person likes to do their own thing, irrespective of what others around them are doing.  Others see such a person as having a certain detachment or aloofness.

Reduplicated Major Water Line

This sense of detachment from the people around him is also shown by the extended reduplicated ending to the Major Water line. Here is someone who is emotionally and socially reserved and who creates an image or persona which they project strongly out onto the world.  In this case, since the index finger is relatively short, what Charlie has here is a case of personal insecurity or lack of self-confidence compensated for by the development of a strongly defined persona.  In fact, the reduplication is so long, we usually term this a Persona Line, as we have seen previously in the hands of Michelle Obama.  When the line is this long, there is usually a great secretiveness about the person’s private life and what you see usually has no bearing on what is actually going on in their life.  Without telling his bandmates, Charlie quietly got married in 1964 and, in contrast to the dramatic and extravagant sexual and emotional lives of the other Stones, remained solid in his relationship with Shirley right through his life.

And, despite being the drummer in perhaps the greatest rock band of all time, actually all Charlie wanted to do was to be a jazz drummer!  The ‘real’ Charlie was hidden under the weight of the image and expectation of being associated with the outrageous antics of the Rolling Stones.