There is a wonderful English expression to refer to the position of someone who is forced to replace another person in the exercise of a responsibility: ‘putting on someone else’s shoes’ would be a rough translation. Well then New York musician Steve Jordan (1957) has had to put on the shoes of the missing Charlie Watts as a battery of the Rolling Stones on the tour that the incombustible British group will begin this Sunday, September 26, in St. Louis, Missouri. An aúpa ballot, and not just because of the exquisite taste with which Watts chose his footwear (preferably brown leather ‘penny loafers’ and black vega shovel oxfords made to measure at George Cleverley’s legendary London shoe store) , but the totemic status that the deceased drummer had achieved as a pillar of the sound, image and idiosyncrasy of the band.
Presumably, Steve Jordan will play a role similar to the one Darryl Jones has been playing since he replaced Bill Wyman as bassist for the Rolling Stones in 1993 both at concerts and on recordings: associate musician who does not reach official membership status. But the fact of being an external agent does not mean that the profile of the New York drummer does not fit quite precisely in the history and the present of the group.
A ‘dirty job’ in 1985
For starters, this is not the first time that Jordan has wielded the drumsticks in the service of the Stones. He already did it in 1985 during the recording of the LP ‘Dirty Work’, when the volatile state of Charlie Watts, who in those years had developed an addiction to heroin, forced his companions to recruit a replacement to cover the absences of the drummer in some sessions, Steve Jordan already gathered more than adequate credentials to the job. Like the Rolling Stones, he had started his professional career defending a repertoire anchored in blues, rhythm and blues, and classic soul; in your case, like drums in the Blues Brothers band, the duo that actors John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd founded in 1978 as part of a ‘sketch’ for the program ‘Saturday Night Live’, where twenty-something Jordan was pounding the drums. In that space of the NBC he coincided with the pianist Paul Shaffer, who in 1982 persuaded the drummer to change the set and join the The World’s Most Dangerous Band, the group that entertained the talk show ‘Late Night With David Letterman’.
It was Charlie Watts himself, on whom Jordan had made a very pleasant impression when the Rolling Stones appeared on ‘Saturday Night Live’, who suggested his name as a possible eventual replacement in the mid-1980s. In the ‘Dirty Work’ sessions, The New Yorker hit it off with Keith Richards, who shortly thereafter suggested that he collaborate again on the recording of a version of the Stonian classic ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash ‘with Aretha Franklin for the soundtrack of the film of the same title starring Whoopi Goldberg. became even closer when in October 1986 both They were part of the band that accompanied Chuck Berry at the two tribute concerts from which the documentary ‘Hail! Hail! Rock’n’roll ‘and was definitively sealed with the incorporation of Jordan to the X-pensive Winos, the group that has accompanied Richards in his three solo LPs –’Talk is cheap’ (1988), ‘Main Offender’ ( 1992) and ‘Crosseyed Heart’ (2015) – and on subsequent tours.
From Dylan to Calamaro
Beyond the ‘stone’ universe, Steve Jordan has developed a prolific career as a session musician, producer, and songwriter. The list of records on whose credits the New Yorker’s name appears simply pulls his back and includes recordings by giants such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen (the drummer played on the ‘Devils and Dust’ album), BB King, George Benson, Rod Stewart, Solomon Burke, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Bruno Mars, and many others. Among them, Andrés Calamaro, who featured Jordan’s drumsticks in the LP songs ‘High Dirt’As if all this were not enough, our man has still had time as a permanent military man in the John Mayer Trio (a trio devoted to blues rock that is completed by guitarist and singer John Mayer and bassist Pino Palladino, another ubiquitous instrumentalist) and of forming together with his wife, Meegan Voss, the group The Verbs, which has published three LPs to date. The last one, ‘Cover Story’ (2015) is a collection of covers of some of the couple’s favorite songs from the 60s and 70s and includes a wonderful reading of Los Bravos’ ‘Black is black’.