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The Rolling Stones, whose drummer, Charlie Watts, far right, passed away on Tuesday, played in North County but once. It was a private show at Solana Beach’s Belly Up in 2015. Courtesy photo
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Sports Talk: Stones, Padres teamed up for great memory

The Rolling Stones were playing in North County and the Padres were doing likewise on the road and somehow it all came together magically.

That sweet intersection of music and baseball came to mind with Tuesday’s passing of the legendary Charlie Watts, 80, the longtime Stones drummer.

This longtime Stones fan learned of them appearing at the Belly Up in 2015. It was a private show for about 450 people hosted by late Rancho Santa Fe businessman Ralph Whitworth.

Days earlier, the Stones performed before a crowd of more than 40,000 at Petco Park to christen their Zip Code Tour.

Now the Stones were plugging in for a show a ZIP code over from mine, Cardiff’s 92007. Their proximity compelled me to make the short trek to Solana Beach.

This comes from someone who’s seen the Stones, over the past 40 years, at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego Sports Arena, Petco Park, Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Coliseum, The Forum, Hollywood Bowl and that’s a partial list.

The chances of settling in at the Belly Up?

Not. Very. Good.

Which is the opposite of what Watts always brought.

This exceptional man responsible for keeping Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on track always did so with a sly grin and an ease that others envied.

The modest Watts was cool for the spotlight to find his bandmates. His appearance, though, was striking.

While the other Stones colored their manes as the years rolled by, Watts was Watts and what’s wrong with that? His batch of white hair debonairly combed back set him apart, while he kept everyone together.

Back to the Padres.

If they were at home that night, I would have been covering them. With the Padres elsewhere, it allowed me to follow suit.

The Padres’ suits were across the street from the Belly Up entrance. That’s a friendly term for members of the organization more accustomed to sports coats than uniforms.

I spotted the group and immediately our chatter turned toward the Padres. They had a rally going, with Will Middlebrooks doing something, and it was a happy bunch whose smiles quickly grew.

Not as much as mine, but close.

A Stones official approached the suits, whose circle of conversation I had joined. He had a fistful of green bracelets and one found its way to my wrist.

Once entering the Belly Up, the Padres’ suits broke to their corner. We all heard the instructions of no cellphone pictures or recordings.

Watts took the stage with most everyone but Jagger. The drummer settled in, fiddled with his pedals and appeared amused over the intimate setting.

The calming Watts was never about the grand stadium tours or the excesses that accompany any Stones endeavor. This date was in a cozy club, which seemed to fit Watts.

A skinny Jagger burst on stage, but only after running sprints in the alley. He was lathered up and he expected Watts to fuel his engine.

The 90-minute show was predictably epic, from an opener of “Start Me Up” to an encore of “Satisfaction.”

Maybe the most content Rolling Stone was Watts, as he returned grins and head nods to Jagger while guaranteeing that the beat went on.

The Stones roll on, with their upcoming concerts in Inglewood and Las Vegas on my radar.

But nothing will match the first and only night that the Rolling Stones and Watts rocked North County. Someone was fortunate to attend, with an assist by the Padres.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him @jparis_sports

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