Charlie Watts would have been happy playing drums for a jazz trio in small dark clubs.
Instead, Watts gained fame with the Rolling Stones, performing in huge stadiums around the world.
The band's rhythmic pulse for 60 years, Watts died Tuesday at age 80 in London. Fellow rock stars hailed him as one of the era's great drummers.
With his tailored suits, patrician style and art-school sensibility, Watts brought jazz-world cool to the world's rowdiest band.
Accentuating Keith Richards' forceful guitar riffs with restrained jazz progressions, Watts gave the band's hardest rock songs a swinging pace. While Watts learned his craft playing along with bebop records, he also loved American big-band dance numbers.
Taking a break from the Stones, he recorded with jazz bands he put together, and performed on stage in 1985 with a 32-piece orchestra that played swing classics like "Stompin' at the Savoy."
Along with other British rockers, Watts was born during World War II, and grew up during the country's postwar deprivation. Baby-boom heroes like Watts came from a different world.
Watts died just as the Rolling Stones were to embark upon another world tour. After a recent medical procedure, Watts had withdrawn from the grueling schedule.
Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood and Richards will still play the band's famous songs. But the Rolling Stones won't be the same.