Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards said Charlie Watts was “smiling down” on the band as it continued with Steve Jordan in the late drummer’s place.

The veteran group had already announced a tour with Jordan as a stand-in before Watts’ death in August. Jordan has been associated with the Stones for three decades, having worked with Watts and also on Richards’ solo projects.

“The last thing I wanted to do was a Rolling Stones tour without Charlie,” Richards told Apple Music Hits in a recent interview. “Charlie said, ‘Look, go on with Steve.’ Everyone [knows] that I’ve worked with Steve for 30 years, and he’d also worked with Mick and me over the last couple of years in the studio. So it was kind of a seamless transition. Steve has brought a new energy.”

He added that he "can almost feel Charlie smiling down on us every night. You’ve got to roll with the punches. This is rock ‘n’ roll. My important thing is ‘roll.’ The ‘rock’ is comparatively easy.”

Richards also discussed the feeling onstage during a Stones performance, noting that those were the moments he and singer Mick Jagger feel their closest. “When Mick and I are out there working … we both know that, ‘Hey, I’m counting on you,’” he said. “And there’s a beautiful jousting and also, like, a support. That’s where, actually, I feel my friendship with Mick more intensely than at any other time. … That’s the first time I said that.

“When I see my man out there singing, I think ‘Jeez, look at that cat there. He’s out there stark-fucking naked.’ I have to support my friend, and he knows that I’m gonna be there. I have his back. He has mine. It’s an interesting piece of improvisation goes on every night, and it’s, like, how far do you want to push it? And that’s half the fun of it. It’s never the same. This show has no script.”

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