It’s a typically radiant morning in Los Angeles, but Benicio Del Toro is feeling a touch of the blues. Bereavement, to be exact. The deceased, who died a few days before our conversation today, is a man he didn’t know personally. In fact, he saw him in the flesh only a handful of times, but on the first occasion — as a 14-year-old, in 1981, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York — the young Del Toro was struck by a mojo that surfed the crowd and left him with a feeling he’d carry for the rest of his life.
“Oh, man, Charlie Watts! He was the roll of the Rolling Stones,” Del Toro says. “I think Charlie Watts is the first musician, maybe, that I listened to where I was actually feeling the story of the music in some ways. I just remember trying to follow his drumming and always getting lost and trying to figure it out all over again. I’ve been listening to his drumming since my childhood. But, hey, we got a lot of work that he left behind that is going to outlive all of us, and that’s nice to have. For me, it’s like the Stones and the Beatles, the Who, Zeppelin, even Elton John — these are musicians I’ve listened to when I was up, when I was down... They’ve made me feel braver in life, if there’s such a thing. There’s this, ‘You’re not alone’ element to that music. Yeah, some connection. Whatever it is... You can call it spiritual.”