THE ROLLING STONES played their first show without longtime drummer Charlie Watts Monday night (September 20) at a private party hosted by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Watts died last month at a London hospital, and singer Mick Jagger got emotional talking about his late bandmate while performing for an invite-only crowd of about 300 people. He told the audience: "This is the first show of our 2021 tour, so this is it, this is the tryout. I must say, though, at this point it's a bit of a poignant night for us because it's our first tour in 59 years that we've done without our lovely Charlie Watts.
"We all miss Charlie so much. We miss him as a band, we miss him as friends, on and off the stage," he continued. "We've got so many memories of Charlie, and I'm sure some of you that have seen us before have got memories of Charlie as well. And I hope you will remember him like we do. So we'd like to dedicate this show to Charlie. Let's have a drink to Charlie."
"Mick Jagger had visible tears and his voice broke when he dedicated the private concert and the entire upcoming STONES tour to the memory of their late drummer Charlie Watts," one attendee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the New York Post.
"Guitarist Keith Richards came over and embraced Mick as they shared the poignant moment," the source added.
THE ROLLING STONES played a 15-song set that opened with "Let's Spend The Night Together" and also included "Tumbling Dice", "Under My Thumb", "Gimme Shelter", "Start Me Up", "Miss You", "Jumpin' Jack Flash" before closing with "Street Fighting Man" and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction".
THE ROLLING STONES will kick off their U.S. tour in St. Louis on September 26. Stepping in for Watts on the trek will be his "great friend" Steve Jordan. Jordan previously played with Richards.
Watts's publicist said that he "passed away peacefully in a London hospital [on August 24] surrounded by his family."
Charlie's death came just weeks after THE ROLLING STONES announced that Watts would be missing several U.S. tour dates while he was recovering from an unspecified medical procedure.
Although Watts wasn't a founding member of THE STONES, he had been with the band since January 1963.
He battled throat cancer in 2004 but got the all clear after undergoing two operations.